Category Archives: Appetizers

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts

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

…said nobody ever.

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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!

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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.

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Filed under Appetizers, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

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!

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10. Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

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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

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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

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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)

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 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

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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

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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

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

Game Day Recipes: Easy Picante Cream Cheese Dip + Rollups

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

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Ha–I did it! After five years of avoiding the Rose Bowl like the plague, I finally hitched up my shorts two weeks ago and attended my first-ever grad school football game. Since our team was playing my alma mater’s rival, I was doubly invested and ready to shout as loudly as I could about “taking off that red shirt,” if ya know what I mean. Plus who doesn’t love a socially acceptable excuse to be obnoxious and rambunctious and generally just a tad madwomanish?

As it turns out, the weather on game day was insanely sweltering and, as our seats in the student section were full-blast under the sun, a few of us ended up spending the entire first quarter wandering around outside and looking for food instead of actually watching the game. This meant that we missed the only touchdown of the entire game, scored by yours truly–er, well, until the other team scored not one, but TWO touchdowns in the final 2 minutes of the game. Derp. My friend was majorly upset (it was her first-ever football game), and my dad texted me right after the game because he simply could not stop cracking up at our misery. “Heart broken loss,” his message read. Annnnd to me this is why food > football forever, hands down.

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Speaking of food and football games, though, there is one reason why I still love the sport even though my team is a heartbreaking hot mess on the field this season sometimes disappoints me. In my book, you can never go wrong on any occasion where all sorrows can be drowned in food, food, food. To celebrate the start of a new season, I popped down to Walmart the following weekend for a few game day edibles and ended up snagging a bag of chips, some corn tortillas, a few blocks of cream cheese, and a bottle of mild Pace® Picante for that extra flavor kick.… Read more

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Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Breadsticks

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

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I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling just a wee bit nostalgic now that the holiday season is over. Classes started again this week, which means that I’m back to being a responsible (er, “responsible” adult on a teaching schedule and that my three-day stretches of wearing only PJs are over. Research, teach, work, blog, repeat…

And then, of course, there’s the food, best enjoyed with the fam. Who wouldn’t miss the food?

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Comfort food with family and a healthy start to the new year might sound like an oxymoronic combination, but thankfully I’ve done my fair share of digging and discovered some neat ways to reconcile the two. You might have heard of the power of cauliflower–have you ever tried using it as a carb sub? If not, you’re TOTALLY in for a treat!

To be honest, I didn’t believe the hype until I tried it myself a few months ago. I made a version of these cheesy garlic cauliflower breadsticks and instantly fell in love with the major gooey oozing shredded cheese that I’d smothered all over the light, delightfully gluten-free cauliflower crust. But how does it work, precisely? So glad you asked…

In full-blown vegetable mode, cauliflower seems like a formidable substance to handle. Luckily, all you need to do here is give it a few good chops, throw everything in your food processor to create cauliflower “rice,” and then microwave the whole shebang! From there on out, I’m happy to report that it gets even easier…

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Microwave! Oh boy oh boy. After microwaving your cauliflower rice for 8-10 minutes, you’re ready to mix in some eggs, cheese, minced garlic, garlic salt, pepper, and dried basil. Then it’s off to the oven!… Read more

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Filed under Appetizers, Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Vegetarian Tomato Bisque + Veggie Corn Dogs

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

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Confession time: so by the time I finally got around to photographing these veggie corn dogs and writing this post last week, there was only one left. ONE. Apparently I had eaten all the others without realizing it (okay, I definitely realized where this was going and liked them too much to care), so that’s why there is a single veggie corn dog in these photos…

Growing up, I loved corn dogs. They hold a special place in my heart because whenever my mom and I went clothes shopping at the mall, we would always stop by the food court stands and buy two corn dogs, plus a big cup of freshly squeezed lemonade to share. Since transitioning to a 95% vegetarian lifestyle a few years ago, I began searching for alternative options that would fit the bill, but nothing seemed to stick (ha ha, get it?). Believe it or not, it’s hard to find a veggie corn dog that can stand on its own two feet! Er, wooden popsicle stick.

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I don’t care whether you’re vegetarian or vegan or pescatarian or an avid meat-eater–whatever you are, these veggie corn dogs are it. One of my favorite things about being a food blogger is getting asked to try new foods and rambling on about my favorite ones endlessly. The corn breading and veggie hot dog in the center are so on point!

Ramble ramble ramble.

I LOVE THESE VEGGIE CORN DOGS.

I personally can’t tell the difference between these and the original–if anything, these taste ten times better because they’re so light and don’t weigh me down after I devour one! Or two. Or four. Possibly right before swim practice.

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In other news, haaaave you met this tomato bisque?… Read more

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Apple Cheddar Veggie Meatball Skewers

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

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Everyone in my family has an obsession. My dad and brother are obsessed with football; I’m crazy about cooking (obviously); and my mom–well, she loves puzzle games and…paper towels.

I kid you not.When we went out for some quality grocery shopping time a few weeks ago while my dad and brother were at home watching the football game, she said to me: “Now where’s Viva?”

“What?”

“Viva. You know, Viva.

I had just begun to look around in bewilderment for a dog or person who might answer to this strange name when I looked up–and realized that we were standing in front in the paper towel aisle.

“Oh,” I said. “Ohhhhhh. VIVA.”

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My mom likes to tell the story about how she once visited a friend in Boston and brought her own paper towels with her, heaven forbid Massachusetts suddenly put a tax on all paper products and there was a towel shortage or something. The roll she brought with her was, predictably, a Viva® one–and the friend, as it turned out, must’ve made excellent use of it after my mom left, because the next week my mom received a phone call. It was her friend, who demanded to know how she had never used such incredibly soft, absorbent paper towels in her life.

Again, this is a true story.

And my mom, in usually fashion, simply replied:

Viva.”

“What?”

“VIVA.”

So we’re kind of Viva® purists over here.

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All of this brings me back to the grocery trip a few weeks ago. When the two of us finally got back from the store, scores were in full swing and my brother and dad were “OOOH”ing and “OHHHH”ing like madmen.… Read more

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup (Vegan!)

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

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You may find it surprising that, although I am a PhD student in English, there are plenty of commonplace words that I would not be able to define for you. Most recently, I heard a word that I had not heard in a very long time – about four years, actually – and that seemed like a ghostly echo from some long forgotten past.

The word: summer.

Can you please use that word in a sentence? 

“In ancient times, the period between two academic semesters, when occurring during the months of June, July, and August, was known as summer vacation.

“Of course, recent empirical studies conducted by a reputable PhD student in English Literature and her colleagues have demonstrated that the notion of “summer vacation” is purely mythical.”

I’m guessing 90% of you out there know that feeling. As the awesome lady of manners Maggie Smith once famously asked: “Wh-what is a weekend?”

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Summer may be in full swing for most of the educational world, but here in Grad School Land, every minute not spend researching dissertation materials is either spetd worrying about not spending enough time researching dissertation materials, or girding our loins for the Back-to-School teaching curriculum that, lo and behold, is only two months away. Now somebody tell me, WHEN AND HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

And I don’t want to hear any Interstellar jokes, okay?

Just the other day, I was mulling over the prospect of starting another school year and started doodling up a list in my notebook. (Note: I love love love making lists!) After jotting down a few thoughts, I realized what I was writing and scribbled a huge title across the top of the page:

<10 Things I Absolutely Do Not Want to Do After Getting Home from a Long Day at School!> <– “Work” also works.… Read more

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Extra Easy Hummus

The following post has nothing to do with hummus, and it certainly isn’t “extra easy” for me to talk about. I’ll share the recipe for this hummus at the bottom of the post, as usual, so feel free to skip the rest and scroll down if you’re looking for it. If, however, you read on and have any insight to share, please do. Writing from a dark place, I could use the perspective right now.

(Edit: I am SO sorry about the timing of this post. I was writing it from a musty hotel room over the weekend and it honestly didn’t even occur to me that it was Father’s Day until the post went live. I love my daddy to bits and I hope to write him a proper post of appreciation later this week :) until then, these are some immediate thoughts that I hope won’t be a damper. But I’d still love to hear your thoughts ASAP!)

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In recent years, I have learned the hard way that trust is not something that stands on a solid foundation built from words, assurances, contrition, or even years of trust-building. Instead, it teeters at the edge of a narrow, misshapen precipice, whose sharp point inexplicably–perhaps even miraculously–holds up the imbalanced weight that it bears, so that it seems always on the verge of toppling when the breeze of Doubt blows by–as Doubt will, on some sad occasions with more pertinacity than others.

With parents in particular, this precipice is a tricky one to travel, and one always has the feeling that a misstep will not only cause the entire structure of trust to crumble, but to cast one into a dark void of purposelessness and intense self-hatred that cannot be occasioned by anyone else. Those of us who are lucky enough to have loving parents know that we are born into a system of trust–that we begin, essentially, possessing one or more other beings’ trust without having earned a shred of it, unless you count the act of being genetically (or adoptively) related to someone “earning.” With every subsequent human encounter in our lives, we work hard to foster and maintain that trust–but a parent-child relationship is, for better or for worse, one that begins with a blind willingness to believe in someone we have only just come to know.… Read more

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Filed under Appetizers, Dips/Spreads, Healthy, Homemade/DIY, Lunch & Dinner, Snacks, Vegetarian

Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

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During my training to become a teacher, I was taught one cardinal rule–the one rule everyone must obey to maintain their sanity, well-being, and unity as a disseminator of knowledge.

Steal. Steal, steal, steal.

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If that sounds like a weird thing to do as a role model, you’re right. And then again, not quite. See, our pedagogy instructor (bless his soul) thinks that the surest way to success as a teacher is by learning from others’ and, when we like what we see, by taking it and using it for ourselves.

I can’t say I’ve done a splendid job of that at my, well, job. I’m too much of a prideful perfectionist to copy other people’s lesson plans, no matter how wonderful they are, and I usually spend many hours before a class trying to disentangle the hopelessly jumbled threads of a lesson plan I’ve been intricately weaving.

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But when it counts and there are hot, buttery, awesomely cheddar-filled biscuits on the line, apparently I am very good at stealing. For anyone who has ever sunk his or her teeth into a Red Lobster’s famous cheddar bay biscuit, that person will know that I am not kidding. These things are killer, phenomenal, and absolutely steal-worthy. I took one of my favorite Southern buttermilk biscuit recipes and, by brushing it with an awesome butter-parsley-garlic glaze, transformed it into these Red Lobster copycat biscuits. And they may even be better than the real deal. Trust me, you’ll want these on your holiday platters this year.

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So what are you waiting for? Steal this recipe now (with creds, of course!)  and see who you can wow with restaurant-style biscuits, right from your home kitchen!

If you could recreate a copycat version of any recipe, what would it be?

Ala

Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Biscuit recipe adapted from Food.com
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, chilled and cubed (needs to be very cold)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sharp shredded cheddar
  • For butter glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
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Mediterranean Couscous and Kashk E-Bademjan

Happy belated Mid-Autumn Festival!

To celebrate, we went Greek. Which makes no sense if you don’t think about it–but if you do think about for just the teeniest bit, it starts to make a little sense.

…And if you do happen to find that nugget of sense, please let me know what it is, because I haven’t thought of it quite yet.

Last night I invited over the new recruits for our program (hooray, fresh blood!) who live in the same graduate student complexes as me. Mind-melting weather aside–a whopping 95 degrees in the dead of night–our motley crew really was a melting pot that made me glad I’d pulled my dishes so many different cuisines. We chatted over couscous and Kashk E-Badjemajan (a Persian eggplant and fried onion dip), Chinese garlic eggplant and honey “walnut” tofu (I used tempeh because one of the guys had a nut allergy), homemade sweet bread and cucumber salad. And of course, we had moon cakes.

Flour Power: I first ran into Kashk E-Bademjan in a Persian restaurant and just needed to make a copycat recipe…and now that I’ve done it, it feels great eating this scumptious dish in the comfort of my own kitchen! Next time you go out and have a great dish, go home and do some research, or go straight to your kitchen and give it a try if you’re feeling bold. You never know what you might come up with!

Do you know how absolutely terrifying it is cooking for somebody with nut and dairy allergies? I wouldn’t touch anything with nuts in them for the entire day (ever hear the story of the guy who died kissing his girlfriend, who had eaten peanut butter the day before? Holy. Cripes.), and I shoved anything with dairy in it to the wayyy back of my fridge so I wouldn’t accidentally, you know, use it.… Read more

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