Orange-Glazed Tofu Bowls

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BalancedMealsMadeEasy #CollectiveBias

Orange-Glazed Tofu 1--022317

Orange-Glazed Tofu 3--022317

Excuse the radio silence here for the past few weeks, but I have so much to catch you guys up on!

With June right around the corner, dissertation-writing has officially kicked into overdrive: I still have my final chapter to go (eeps!), not to mention tons of revisions, an intro, and a conclusion. But what’s 100+ pages in four three months anyway, right? *cry*

To keep myself sane, I’ve been trying a whole bunch of new, exciting things lately–which I know sounds like a completely crazy proposal, but sometimes I think these new challenges are the only things keeping me on my feet! For example, my co-coordinator and I recently wrote a 100+ page Oscars-themed murder mystery party that turned out to be so much fun! I’m taking a break to visit Portland for the first time soon, and my friends and I are doing some major trip planning for this summer (so stay tuned!).

Orange-Glazed Tofu 7--022317

One of the biggest developments is that I’ve also been semi-training for my first ever (sprint) triathlon this Sunday! If you’re unfamiliar with sprint tri’s, it’s basically a 400-meter swim, a 13.1-mile bike ride, followed by a 5k run. I’m incredibly nervous because I haven’t had a chance to train very much due to my crazy schedule, but I can’t wait to check this new challenge off my bucket list. Wish me luck!

In order to supplement my training regimen, I’ve been focusing on incorporating more balance and wholesome foods into my diet leading up to the race. This orange-glazed tofu veggie bowl has become one of my lunchtime favs recently: not only is it super simple to prepare, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a morning swim-run combo!… Read more

6 Comments

Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner

The Cutest V-Day Idea: Custom Stickers & Baked Goods for Someone You Love!

Guys, HI. So y’all know that I love Valentine’s Day as a matter of principle–who doesn’t love a day all about the importance of love?–but this year I am beyond excited to share one of the most adorable V-Day ideas I have ever seen. Yes, I’m talking about these insanely cute–and did I mention customized?–labels that I’m using this year for all of my V-day baked goodies!

Valentine's Day Stickers 1--020617

Valentine's Day Stickers 2--020617

If there’s one thing my friends know about me, it’s that I’m always looking for new ways to make holidays (and really any occasion) extra special through gifting. So when the amazing folks at StickerYou reached out to tell me all about their sweet selection of custom stickers, jar and bottle labels, and a whole slate of other creative personalized decorating items, and offered to send me a custom set to try, I squealed. I jumped for joy and did a little jig. Then I pretended to compose myself, said yes with admirable adult-like calmness, and giddily started whipping up a few designs for printing. And, oh my gosh–their whole team was so crazy personable and efficient: within a few days, my designs had been set to scale and printed on these thick, gorgeous glossy pages. (If you’re anything like me, you’d just love the beautifully-set, high-quality sheets of paper that they use!). And there may have been audible hallelujah choruses when I spread them all out together on my tabletop for the first time yesterday afternoon…

Best of all, all of the sticker labels I designed contain quintessentially wry Ala humor, complete with a few fanti-romance jabs for my friends who aren’t big fans of V-day! They just scream “personalized,” and I couldn’t adore them more. Here’s the full, lovely set:

Valentine's Day Stickers 3--020617

In case you can’t read them in this small picture (though they’re crystal clear in real life!), the print from left to right says:

– To: _______        From: Your Not-So-Secret Enabler

– You look pretty (darn hungry hungry right now, here eat this!)

– Eat Sweets (& Stay Sweet): Happy Valentine’s Day

– And the final two pages…

Valentine's Day Stickers 4--020617

Valentine's Day Stickers 5--020617

Amazing, no???… Read more

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Slice-and-Bake Heart Sugar Cookies: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day (on a Budget You’ll Love!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Doingthe99 #99YourValentinesDay #CollectiveBias

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 13--012917

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 4--012917

Love is in the air–and so is the aroma of these adorable slice-and-bake heart sugar cookies!

Last weekend, about 20 of us squished into my tiny apartment to eat dinner and bake Valentine’s Day cookies together. Since we needed a lot of dough (but had very little to spare from our wallets), I nipped over to 99 Cents Only to pick up flour, sugar, and all that jazz that I needed that night for our baking/dinner party! They have my favorite name brands at student-friendly prices, so shopping there really is a one-stop shop kind of deal for lucky me ;)

While I was there, though, I also found these super cute V-day cards (for under a dollar! Whoo!) and just couldn’t resist snatching up a few for my friends. Guess you never know what you’ll find when you shop at the 99, eh? I’ll be writing them next week, so if you’re lucky one might just be headed your way soon!

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 19--012917 Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 20--012917

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 1--012917

The best part of this whole experience–shopping at the 99, making messy heart shapes out of red cookie dough and wrapping them in even more sugar cookie dough, and eating merrily at my place–was just spending time with some of my favorite people in the world. Best of all, since these dough logs needed to be chilled overnight before baking, we had an impromptu picnic the following Wednesday to enjoy the fruits (or hearts) of our labor!

So as you can see, this V-Day I have tons to celebrate: friends, cookies, and just about everything I need at unbeatable prices for a day filled with love. Wishing all of you the very same! (Hint: making these adorable cookies for loved ones are a great start–learn how to make your own in the recipe below!)

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 8--012917

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 9--012917

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 15--012917

20170124_122308(0)

Slice and Bake Heart Sugar Cookies 17--012917

 With love,

Ala

Slice-and-Bake Heart Sugar Cookies: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day (on a Budget You’ll Love!)

1 hour

15 minutes

These adorable slice-and-bake heart sugar cookies are the perfect gift for someone special on Valentine's Day!

Read more

8 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies

10 Tips for Traveling On-the-Go (Like a Pro!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpecialKGoodness #CollectiveBias

Remember two months ago when I was still gushing about my summer travels in Europe and just couldnotforthelifeofmestoptalkingabouttravel???

Well, if all goes according to plan, I have some pretty exciting news to share with all of you in the coming weeks (!!! so stay tuned). Until then, I’m throwing back to some of the best travel hacks that I learned during my time abroad–if you’re planning a sojourn anytime soon, you’ll want to keep a few of these in your back pocket so you can travel on-the-go like a total pro!

Travel Tips 1--012917

Risotto Al Funghi 13--110516

10. Pre-print any documents you might need: directions, contact info, spreadsheets.

When you’re on the go, it’s always a good idea to print everything you need in advance. My friend recently sent me her crazy detailed Europe spreadsheet containing hostels, dates, rates, train times, and planned sites, which are all useful to keep on hand, but it’s also a good idea to print a few maps if you plan on traveling internationally without a data plan. That being said…

9. Contact your mobile provider in advance for international data and texting plans.

Before I left for Europe, I contacted my mobile provider and asked them about affordable international data plan options. I ended up purchasing a plan for unlimited international texting and something like 200 MB data for emergencies–thankfully, too, because I ended up using all of it (and then some!). While the price tag was pretty hefty, it felt good to know that I had a fallback in case I needed it.

8. Invest in a sizable external battery pack for your phone.

My friend lent me an external battery pack before my trip to Europe and it pretty much saved my life.… Read more

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hong Kong Style Ketchup Fried Rice

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KetchupWithFrenchs #CollectiveBias

Ketchup Fried Rice 1--012317

Ketchup Fried Rice 3--012317

If you’re like me, your friends laugh when you try to talk to them about football. I’m actually quite well-versed in first downs, punts, and incompletes–I even played some touch football in high school–but somehow I never found the patience to sit down for a game, and sooner or later everyone just assumed that I wasn’t interested in the sport (which was mostly true).

Now that the end of grad school is in sight, though (!!!), and now that I’m plotting elaborate schemes on how to use the piles and piles of free time that I’m sure post-grad freedom has to offer, I’m toying with the idea of joining a…wait for it…fantasy football league!

Am I kidding? Am I? Hmmm?

I might be–apparently it’s a huge time commitment, and the only thing I can think about committing to right now is a large bar of chocolate–but until I decide that fateful question next season, I’m going to stick to whipping up recipes for the big game instead. In the past, I’ve shared savory sides like these cheesy cauliflower breadsticks and my favorite roasted maple brussel sprouts; I’ve also made sweets like these white chocolate cookie butter shortbread cookies and these amazing Oreo-stuffed peanut butter cookies. This year, however, with the big game so close to Lunar New Year’s, I chose to make one of my favorite Chinese comfort foods to share:

Hong Kong Style Ketchup Fried Rice!

Ketchup Fried Rice 6--012317

Ketchup Fried Rice 7--012317

Ketchup Fried Rice 9--012317

I know what you’re probably thinking: ketchup? In rice?? If you didn’t grow up eating this dish, I’ll admit that it sounds like a weird concept. But I’ve been eating this meal since I was five and I can tell you for a fact that it’s a staple that you absolutely need for those days when you have wayyy too many leftovers waiting to be used up.… Read more

13 Comments

Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts

“I’ve never met a brussel sprout I didn’t like!”

…said nobody ever.

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts 1--011317

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts 3--011317

My first encounter with the infamous brussel sprout didn’t happen until grad school. While kids around the Western world were crinkling their noses at piles of mushy, oversteamed sprouts, I was gobbling up perfectly stir-fried bok choy and steamed gai lan at home. Naturally, I was curious about the villainized vegetable when my friend finally served it at a potluck, and I brought the fork to my lips with a hint of trepidation before taking a nibble. But surprise surprise: it was delicious!

Of course, I’ve had tons of terrible encounters with poorly-made sprouts since then: ranging from the could-not-be-pierced-with-a-spear variety to the steam-the-crap-out-of-it-boogery-mash kind, brussel sprouts admittedly live up to their bad reputation more often than not.

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution, and it lies in these Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts! The key to the perfect roast is a fairly high temperature (for those crispy burnt outer leaves) and plenty of oil. I tossed my brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted them on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes before drizzling a heap of maple syrup over them. Then back in the oven they went for another 15 minutes–and voila! The perfect side dish or appetizer for any party–I’ve made these on at least five different occasions and they’re always the first dish to go!

It’s been freezing here lately–um, and I mean that metaphorically because a) I live in California and b) the temperature is actually only 52 degrees F outside, but that’s COLD here–so I’m super excited to turn on my oven soon and get roasting again. May these sprouts keep your body warm and your belly super satisfied!

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts 5--011317

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts 7--011317

STOP STEAMING, start roasting!

Ala

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts

These easy roasted maple brussel sprouts are perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and filled with maple flavor on the inside.

Read more

11 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Creamy Caramel Flan

caramel-flan-2-122416

caramel-flan-4-122416

Happy new year! Can I interest you in this creamy caramel flan?

While others are making big resolutions for 2017, I’ve been happily whiling away my hours in my fuzziest pair of snowflake pajamas and scarfing down the last of the shortbread cookies that I bought from Scotland. And making flan, apparently. I guess my resolution is to undo all of my hard fitness work from last year completely (for various reasons, I also haven’t been to the gym in a month). Hooray!

Just kidding. While I’m not a big fan of making lists based on Earth’s revolution around the sun, I do love the idea of new beginnings. So my five biggest goals this year are: to graduate with my PhD (!!!), travel like a crazy boss after I do, get a spanking awesome job that makes me happy (but hopefully also pays the bill), publish something, and give this blog an awesome facelift. Oh, and do something completely outside of my comfort zone that I have never, ever ever imagined doing before. So I guess that makes six!

caramel-flan-6-122416

caramel-flan-8-122416

Since every set of New Year’s resolutions deserves to be commemorated with amazing food–you know, to keep you fueled and focused!–I’m sharing my favorite caramel flan recipe of all time with you. It’s dense, creamy, and rich: think a cross between traditional flan and a really bomb cheesecake. Plus that glossy caramel coating on top is to die for (and super easy to make)!

All you’ll need for this recipe are six ingredients: sugar, cream cheese, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Beat them together (except the sugar, which you’ll be melting to create that caramel), and you’re just a few hours away from your resolution of ETERNAL FLAN-INSPIRED HAPPINESS! Muahahaha.

Because if that’s not on your to-do list this year, we really need to talk about your priorities.… Read more

26 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes, Cheesecakes

Top 10 Recipes of 2016

A few weeks ago, I posted some of my very favorite photos from this year. Now that it’s the last Thursday of 2016, I’m throwing back to some of this year’s most popular and viewed recipes!

top-10-recipes-of-2016-collage

10. Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

copycat-red-lobster-cheddar-bay-biscuits-5-121913

If you secretly make trips to Red Lobster just so you can stuff your with their famous, melt-in-your-mouth buttery Cheddar Bay Biscuits, here’s some good news for the new year: now you can make (and enjoy) them in your own home! (Recipe here.)

9. Slutty Cheesecake Bars

slutty-cheesecake-bars-8-051913

A thick layer of chocolate chip blondie, rich cheesecake on top, and whole Oreos crammed all throughout give these infamous bars their name. One of the very first recipes that I posted on Wallflour Girl (note the tacky rainbow wrapping paper backdrop) and still one of the most popular after five years! (Recipe here.)

8. Extra-Fudgy Kahlua Brownies with Kahlua Icing

extra-fudgy-kahlua-brownies-1-071813

I’m not a booze kind of girl…usually. But put a plate of these extremely fudgy Kahlua brownies (and maybe a White Russian!) in front of me and they’ll be gone before you can say “boozy.” (Recipe here.)

7. The Very BEST Tiramisu (from America’s Test Kitchen)

best-tiramisu-from-americas-test-kitchen-1-101913

 My shortlist for best recipe sources is, well, short–but I would trust America’s Test Kitchen with my first-born baby. This simple but authentic tiramisu recipe is the best that I’ve ever made and constantly requested at family functions! (Recipe here.)

6. Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Bars

idiot-proof-healthy-chocolate-chip-oat-bars-7-012214

Here’s an idiot-proof recipe that you can hand off to even the most baking-illiterate of your friends! These one-bowl, dump-and-stir chocolate chip oat bars are healthy, too, making them perfect for kicking off a brand new year. (Recipe here.)

5. Hawaiian Chantilly Layer Cheesecake Cake

hawaiian-chantilly-layer-cheesecake-cake-2-073014

This recipe holds a special place in my heart: inspired by one late-night, post-movie dinner conversation at Lenny’s Deli, my ex shared his fond memories of a dessert known as Chantilly cake.… Read more

6 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Brownies & Chocolates, Cakes & Cupcakes, Cheesecakes, Cookies, Lunch & Dinner

Super Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookie Bars with Cheesecake Filling

ginger-molasses-cookie-bars-2-122216

ginger-molasses-cookie-bars-4-122216

Growing up in California, my Christmases were never filled with real snowdrifts and cups of hot cocoa over a crackling log fire. Christmases were thin flyaway scarves on nippy sun-soaked mornings and Chinese sticky rice served in a large rice cooker. They were elaborate piles of wrapped presents under a tree, but they were also eggnog-free, booze-free, cookie-free celebrations of time together with family. Until a few years ago, I never even considered what it meant to have a conventionally Western Christmas: to build floppy houses made of real gingerbread, to squeeze into an abhorrently amusing ugly holiday sweater for the evening with your friends, to stroll down snow-lined lanes and eat fruitcake and sing (slightly drunken) Christmas carols all season long. I think I tried making chocolate chip cookies for Santa once when I was eight, but I was so offended by the fact that he only ate half of the twenty-something cookies that I never baked for him again.

Living in LA for the past five years means that a lot of that has changed. While I still haven’t had my first white Christmas–though it’s on the bucket list!–I’ve proudly donned my inaugural ugly gingerbread man sweater, hosted themed holiday parties, and made my first-ever Christmas-inspired treats, which include these Super Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookie Bars.  These bars, by the way, may be new to my life, but I am most definitely and madly in love with them already. (Update: my mom just tried a bite and said rather matter-of-factly, “You don’t have to give all of these away” before whisking a few of the squares away for herself. High praise indeed!)

ginger-molasses-cookie-bars-6-122216

ginger-molasses-cookie-bars-8-122216

I’ve only ever baked with molasses once, when my ex and I had a Harry Potter-themed cooking night a couple of years ago and decided to try making treacle tarts…with blackstrap molasses, because apparently we didn’t know that there was a difference between different types of treacle.… Read more

12 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Cookies

The Perfect Muffin for Chocolate Lovers

chocolate-lovers-muffins-1-122016

chocolate-lovers-muffins-6-122016

The holidays are here! Sorry for the shortage of posts lately: I spent the last few weeks braving REAL winter and cavorting through the chilly climes of Cancun…

Just kidding! Cancun, as you can probably imagine, was amazing, winter weather included. We spent our early December days simply basking under the tropical sun at our seaside resort, dipping our feet in the warm Caribbean waters, and trekking through some of the gorgeous intra-cavern rivers that wound their way through the old Mayan ruins in Xcaret. Needless to say, I was spoiled silly and am making a rather graceless transition back to my California reality even as I type.

cancun-pool

The beachfront view from our resort in downtown Cancun.

cancun

Now that I’m back and bundled up again in this nippy weather, though (yes, east coast folks, you may now roll your eyes), nothing sounds better than curling up with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. Nothing, that is, except maybe freshly-baked chocolate muffins in the wee cold hours of the wintry morning, which is exactly what I’m sharing with all of you today. What I love most about this recipe is that it skips all of the tedious separate-and-mix steps required in most muffin recipes: all you need to do here is whisk together dry ingredients, whisk together wet ingredients, fold them all together, and throw that batter into the hot piping oven!

As if simple baking couldn’t get any better, these muffins are perfect for the chocolate lover in your life.  The unique combination of yogurt AND milk in this recipe keeps the muffin absolutely moist and fudgy with a hint of cakiness, while the extra chocolate chips that you toss in right before baking add morsels of molten chocolate richness in every bite. Not bad for an innocuous-looking breakfast food!… Read more

13 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates, Muffins