Sloppy Bao – Vietnamese Sloppy Joe

DSC_5059

It’s a little hard for me to look at these pictures now because I’ve been toying with vegetarianism the past week and this very meaty sandwiches is seriously one of the best I’ve ever made. I know, it’s a sloppy joe. Not very classy. But this one is so unique, so flavorful, and pretty to look at. It’s really just as easy as a regular sloppy joe but with a few asian condiments mixed in like fish sauce and red-curry paste. The meat mixture is really good, but I think it’s the toppings that make it shine. The recipe I used recommends Thai basil, jalapeños and mangos, but notes that Granny Smith apples could be used too. I trust Martha of course, but I thought the green apples looked and tasted perfect. I have a weird time imagining it with mangos, but if you try it please let me know! I went with lots of basil, fanned out apples, and a sprinkle of green onions for mine. I also subbed chili garlic sauce instead of the curry paste because that’s what I had and it was great too! It seems like this recipe is pretty flexible, which I love and would love to hear any of your ideas for ways to tweak it. All I can say is that you really should try this. I’ve never had anything quite like it before and it was a wonderfully quick and smile inducing weekday meal.

DSC_5043DSC_5045 DSC_5047 DSC_5050 DSC_5051 DSC_5055 DSC_5057  DSC_5061 DSC_5063 DSC_5067

Turkey Avocado Egg Rolls – CPK Copycat

DSC_5362

Up until a few weeks ago, it had been a really long time since I had eaten at a California Pizza Kitchen. We had some family in town, which meant a girls only shopping trip was in order! We were probably 20 minutes into the outing when lunch became the next inevitable step. When your shopping has barely begun and the food court kinda sucks you can always count on a CPK to be attached to the mall somewhere. And side note: I have mentioned my love for food courts before on this blog, so when you hear me call one disappointing enough for me to ditch it, you know it’s bad. I think my love for food courts has diminished significantly since moving back to Colorado from Boston though. Boston food courts were the bomb! Anyway, this trip to CPK was the first time I didn’t get a pizza and boy was I pleasantly surprised (I replicated my salad too – coming soon!). My mom had the turkey avocado egg rolls for her meal and was nice enough to share because they were so good that everyone needed to experience it. I decided right away to try these at home even though I felt pretty unsure about how well I would be able to replicate the presentation. Really, the most challenging thing was figuring out how to roll them up properly, but after a quick google session I had it down. This turned into a bit of a hybrid recipe where I used this as a guide for proportions and for folding the wrappers, but I did a bit of a different sauce and fried them because, duh. You could of course bake them though! For my sauce I actually used one of those packets of ranch powder in a spicy flavor because for a reason unknown even to me, I hate buying bottles of ranch dressing. If I absolutely need it for something I’d prefer a one-use option. These egg rolls are such an awesome party food/appetizer that tasted even better than the original, in my opinion. They are similar to the guacamole wontons that I made a while back, but with all of the salad like fillings, it could be substantial enough for a full meal if you’d like (I did!).

DSC_5356DSC_5357DSC_5359DSC_5360DSC_5364DSC_5363

A Taste of Foods to Come

DSC_5059[Sloppy Bao – Vietnamese inspired sloppy joe]

I always get mega excited when I try a recipe that is so delicious that it’s worth repeating. I have found a lot of those lately, which is awesome, but despite my enthusiastic texts to my mom and sister immediately following the consumption of a repeatable dish, I never actually repeat it. No matter how good, I am not a recipe repeater. I used to be pretty against outfit repeating. I’m sure this was influenced in some way by the Lizzie Mcguire Movie (anyone?). These days though, I am ALL for outfit repeating. I mean, some weeks I catch myself repeating basically the same outfit every day with just a minor tweak or two…dark skinny jeans, army green utility jacket, white or grey t-shirt, navy Keds = big YES for me.  I of course still love changing my outfits up every so often, but when it comes to cooking dinner I love variety and experimentation, which evidently translates to no repeats. Ever. This isn’t even something I realized until just recently because I used to have a tiny rotation of go-to dishes. No idea what to make and don’t want to go to the store? Ok, time to make some carbonara. Those go-to’s have been neglected as of late and for the moment, I’m totally cool with that. Here are my top 10 recent repeatable dishes that I probably will never repeat but would totally be happy to eat again (Whoa). Most surprising to me is how many salads are on this very official list! I’ll be posting about each of this in more detail very soon. Let me know if any of these look particularly interesting to you!

DSC_5089[Grilled Steak and Onion Salad] DSC_5102               [Just one amazing burger]DSC_5222      [Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Radish]DSC_5270       [Birthday Macarons]DSC_5271               [My pride and joy – homemade croissants] DSC_5311         [Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette – OMG]  DSC_5328         [Grilled Peach Pizza]DSC_5362         [Turkey Avocado Egg Rolls – Inspired by a lady lunch at CPK]DSC_5369 [Caramelized Peach Salad – also inspired by said shopping day lady lunch]DSC_5381            [Tuna and White Bean Salad]

My First Love – Mac & Cheese

DSC_3736

Oh, goodness. I feel 50% sheepish and 50% totally psyched to be writing this post. Yeah, it’s been an unreasonably long time and I’ve been dreading writing one of those I’m back/excuses, excuses posts that I don’t particularly enjoy reading myself, but here we are. I’ve thought about you a whole lot over the last few months. I thought of you when I went on a trip to LA, while I moved from the east back to the west, while I made (and am still making) a ridiculous amount of felt Christmas crafts. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said ‘yeah, hopefully I’ll blog that at some point’ or the number of ‘to post’ folders I have neatly organized on my laptop (at least I have the organized thing going for me!). If you are interested in the list of excuses, all I can say is: finals, moving, job hunting, working, more job hunting, travel, family and so much family (it’s been awesome being back home again!). Something has definitely been missing from my life though, and I’m feeling really giddy writing this! Like, I actually got butterflies uploading these photos…eye-rolling at myself.

Speaking of butterflies, I finally made myself sit down and blog because I’ve been having a bit of a dilemma/doubt fest regarding my first love – mac & cheese. It’s just been so long since I’ve had really, really good mac & cheese and it’s been extremely disappointing. Of course, this is really all my own fault because I haven’t made it from scratch since these pictures were taken…well back when it was still sunny at dinnertime. I have to admit that boxed macaroni is a definite guilty pleasure of mine. Every time I buy a box I shove it to the bottom of my basket and hope that there’s a self-checkout. I know I’ve mentioned that my brother is my partner in novelty food tasting crime and we’ve been pretty into tasting all the weird macaroni flavors lately. None of them have been very good and I started to wonder if I had lost my taste for this stuff. After all, I used to absolutely hate it as a child. Yep, my tastes have become more childlike over the years. Paul quickly pointed out to me that I probably just need to have some homemade again. Ding, ding. That must be it. And so, this post is here to serve as inspiration for myself and any of you stuck in an unfortunate mac & cheese rut. I am remembering how wonderful and beautiful this recipe was and I think mac & cheese and I might be able to forego couples counseling. Phew. Thank you gruyere, thank you bacon, and thank YOU, for reading this and for not judging me too harshly 😉

DSC_3712DSC_3714Sharing naked photos of your significant other online is wrong, isn’t it? Oops.DSC_3730        Fully clothed. DSC_3722 DSC_3730 DSC_3733

Philly Cheese Steak Night

DSC_4394

My homemade baguettes strike again! Just like the caprese sandwiches, I wanted to make something fairly simple so that we could really enjoy the fresh bread. I also just love how cool I feel slinging my spatula around while grilling the meat and veggies. Maybe I should get a job at a food court?? That would actually be pretty sweet, but I think I would tire of smelling like onions and shopping mall every day…I used the first recipe that came up in a google search for a guide and then kind of did my own thing. I didn’t melt the provolone into a sauce, but I’m sure that would be amazing and I totally forgot that I bought mushrooms to add! I hate when that happens. I think it turned out for the best though since the bread is what made this particular sandwich extra special. Next time I gotta try the melty cheese sauce!

PS this is my 101st post! How cool is that?! I totally missed it when I posted number 100!

DSC_4382DSC_4385 DSC_4394 DSC_4403 DSC_4393 DSC_4400

Caprese Sandwiches on Homemade Bread!

DSC_4293

Last weekend we stumbled across a delightful bakery/cafe called the South End Buttery. I saw the word buttery in the distance and knew I had to see what was up. We loved the design of the place and all the treats looked great. I was starving and grabbed a simple caprese sandwich without really expecting much…but it was so delicious! It made me think about how much good ingredients can make a difference in certain dishes. When it’s composed of just four things, quality ingredients make it shine. This is a sandwich that’s pretty hard to mess up, so I could tell they must be using good stuff. The bread was just perfect and I loved how they used a whole skinny baguette – easier to eat and cute! So, I decided then and there that I would attempt to make my own homemade baguettes. Eek! That’s something that has always scared me. Anything with yeast has kind of always scared me. I’ll post most about the actual bread making later, since this is sandwich week. But, spoiler alert: it was a success! The homemade bread and fresh basil made this simple classic even better. And perfect for an evening dinner in the park!

DSC_4291DSC_4296DSC_4369DSC_4322DSC_4320

anim_da234c51-9c42-9414-1536-68a25ee4807dSimple as 1…2…3

Sandwich Week – Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

DSC_3566

What are two people supposed to do with an entire roasted chicken?? It’s a little bit too much for just two people, but this turned out to be a great way to revive the leftovers! I’m always trying to get Paul to give me hints or ideas about weekday lunches. He usually says anything I make will be good, but one day he said “I know…maybe you could make buffalo chicken sandwiches?” Done! I shredded some of our leftover roast chicken from dinner and put together these  sandwiches. I really like making homemade wings, but these were 100 times easier. I basically tossed some hot sauce/wing sauce with the shredded chicken and topped it with ranch. Plus, coleslaw either on the side or on top! Just a simple idea for leftover chicken, but oh so great for a mid-week work lunch!

DSC_3533DSC_3557

Sandwich Week – Salmon Club Sandwich

DSC_3706

It’s sandwich week on BepCity! Liz Lemon really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to sandwiches. Everyone just wants a sandwich! I have noticed an overflow of sandwich pictures in my photo library over the past month or so and they are all coming at you during this very special week. I’m starting off with one that has been a definite crowd pleaser. I made this once for Paul and once for my whole family. Paul said it was the best sandwich he’s ever had and my mom repeated the recipe a few weeks later. And I thought it was really good too! The sandwich in the pictures was made using three (small) slices of bread and bacon, based on this recipe. It’s basically a BLT with red pepper mayo on the bottom layer, and grilled salmon with a little more mayo on the top later. I’ve also made it with just two slices and no bacon and I promise it’s still great! And healthier too…

So, take my advice, and Liz Lemon’s, just eat this sandwich.

DSC_3707DSC_3690 DSC_3704

Just matching my food, no big deal.

Tiny Food Party!

DSC_4080

In case you didn’t know, I’m one of those people that loves things in miniature. And tiny food is pretty much at the top of my ‘things that are cuter in miniature’ list. A few years ago Paul and I had a daylong obsession with buying these themed sets of tiny plastic food. They came in a little set with maybe 5 different types of food. My favorites were the carnival set with funnel cake and snow cones and a fast food breakfast set that even came with the styrofoam tray and to-go lid. So funny! And the part that really sucked us in was that they came in a mystery box so you didn’t know which set you were getting. We bought one each at Urban Outfitters, opened them right outside the store and I think promptly went back inside and bought two more. I can’t remember what they were called and I can’t find them online, but maybe I’ll dig them up and take some photos when I’m back in Colorado! If you have any idea what I’m talking about, please let me know!

Ok, so tiny plastic food is awesome, but tiny real food is of course, even better. As I mentioned in the mac and cheese bites post, we had a tiny food party when I was home and it was so much fun. We all had at least one dish to make – even our brother put together the lovely caprese skewers! It’s always extra fun when everyone is assembling together. We used the Tiny Food Party book for the skewers, mac and cheese bites, crab cake sliders, and mini chicken and waffles. Yes, MINI CHICKEN AND WAFFLES! Can you believe it? Not only is it the cutest thing ever, but they were really delicious and a lot more convenient to eat. Our grocery store was out of mini waffles, so we just cut regular ones into smaller circles. I seriously can’t get enough of this book. I’m sure you will be seeing it make some more appearances in the future! How do you feel about miniature food? Cute or just annoying??

DSC_4078DSC_4038DSC_4059DSC_4054DSC_4071DSC_4068DSC_4076DSC_4074DSC_4079DSC_4081

Mac & Cheese Bites

DSC_4068

Don’t you love it when a recipe goes way better than you imagined? I doubt it’s a secret that I love frying things (fried guacamole anyone?), but sometimes it can go horribly wrong. Food falls apart, sticks to the pan, burns, doesn’t crisp up, and don’t forget the inevitable oil splatter wounds. My mom often brags about the FryDaddy that she and her roommates had in college. Of course, the bragging always turns to regret about actually using it and how unhealthy that is…If it weren’t for that, I would probably own one right now. I mean, it would be so much easier and cleaner! I could fry everything…and yeah snap back to the reality of why owning one is a bad idea…

I was really excited to make these mac and cheese bites because it came in as kinda sorta my first request on the blog! And also because I had tried them at a restaurant fairly recently and they were amazing! For as much as I love mac & cheese, I can’t believe I’ve only tried it fried a couple of times. Thanks to Pass the Curds for asking me to do a homemade post on these after I mentioned the Trader Joe’s version! I knew as soon as I saw her blog name that I needed to be subscribed!

We made these as part of a “tiny food party” that we had while I was home. The party has become a really awesome memory for me, but more on that later. I promise I will share the rest of the adorable (and delicious) tiny food this week! Since this was a request, I tried to take pictures of every step! I’ve included the recipe from the Tiny Food Party book because it worked so perfectly for me. We didn’t make their mac & cheese recipe, but I’m sure it’s a good one. Check out the step-by-step below!

DSC_4006First of all, you need to use cold mac and cheese for this. A little planning ahead is necessary, but when is mac and cheese for dinner a bad idea? And for two nights in a row? Even better. DSC_4009Just have to show off a bit here. My sister and I picked mac and cheese topping bar for our birthday dinner. See, we really are obsessed. It was a bit of a throwback to another birthday I had with the same theme. New York deli style, buffalo chicken, southwest, and classic. Amazing selection! (Future post, maybe?)DSC_4032Ok, so your leftover mac and cheese should be nice and cold. Press it into your leftover container with a spatula until it’s really compressed. It should stay together in a cube when you flip it onto your cutting board, like this. DSC_4039Then cut the cube into triangle shapes. I got pretty excited when this actually worked! As long as it’s cold and compressed, the triangles should stay together without a problem. DSC_4040 DSC_4041Next, roll the shapes in flour. Once again, I was surprised the flour actually stuck to and coated the bites so perfectly! DSC_4043See? Perfectly floured. Now take a bath in the egg. DSC_4048And finally, roll them in Panko bread crumbs until fully coated. DSC_4050And…keep going until they are all coated in crumbs.DSC_4068Fry them in oil until they are a nice, dark golden brown. Sprinkle parmesan over the top. They turned out perfectly crispy and melty in the middle. It really was more than I was hoping for! And much better than frozen. DSC_4073Just a sneak peek of the tiny food party! It was so fun. I say try this! I really didn’t think it was going to go well – just the idea of getting anything to stick to cold blobs of pasta sounded impossible. I promise, it was so easy and a great party dish!

Tiny Mac and Cheese Bites (from Tiny Food Party, which is a new favorite book)

Like I said, we haven’t tried this mac and cheese recipe, but it sounds good to me! We didn’t have bacon in ours – let me know if you’ve tried that!

For the Mac
1/2 pound small elbow macaroni
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbs flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated fontina cheese
2 tsp dry mustard
2/3 cup cooked crumbled bacon
2 green onions thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

For Frying
1 qt cooking oil
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs

Make the mac and cheese, pour in a greased 8 by 8 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oil to 350. Cut chilled mac and cheese into triangles. Put flour in shallow dish, eggs in a 2nd shallow dish and panko in 3rd shallow dish.  Dredge triangles in flour, dip in eggs and then toss in panko crumbs. Fry in small batches for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, season with salt and pepper (I only sprinkled with parmesan).

DSC_4069