Category Archives: Lunch & Dinner

Grilled Cheese Rollups

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PourMoreFun #CollectiveBias (Psst! If you love grilled cheese, you’ll want to check out more cheesy recipes at Kraft.com!)

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If you had to pick five objects that represent your entire childhood, what objects would you pick?

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In no particular order, mine would be an inflatable armchair, the Backstreet Boys Millennium CD, my favorite pair of obnoxiously polka-dotted booger green tights, grilled cheese, and Kool-AidCan I get a hashtag #90sbliss?

(Especially for that sexy inflatable armchair–I owned a blue one like this. Cool kids? You bet your velvet bellbottoms and rainbow slinkies we were.)

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Discovering Kool-Aid Easy Mix as an adult was like stepping into a time machine and being transported instantly back into the head-boppin’, teeny-bopper 90s – except this time, there was no irritated high school cashier to tell me off for refilling at the drinks machine wayyy too many times. I bought all three flavors from Walmart recently – cherry, tropical punch, and grape – and I may or may not have already sipped my way through an entire bottle on my own before I even got around to writing this post. Whoops? (Good thing it has 50% less sugar than comparable regular sodas, right?)

When you live in 90°F springtime California, though, it’s hard not to want to drink Kool-Aid all the time. You can probably imagine that Kool-Aid Easy Mix is kind of nirvana for someone like me: just add water and enjoy? Now that’s my kind of childhood throwback!

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That’s not the only 90s throwback I’m sharing here today, though. As you can probably tell from the photos of gorgeous, oozing, melty, cheddary cheese that are flooding your lovely Tuesday monitor at this very moment (I’m sorry, did you say you’re at work and want to lick the whole screen right now? … Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

The Very Best Kimchi Fried Rice for #SundaySupper

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I rarely get hungry while editing my photos for this blog (I know, shocker!), but every once in a while something like this Kimchi Fried Rice happens on Saturday night at 2 AM and then I get the hangrays. Like, real bad.

Do yourselves a favor before you read on and save this recipe, guys. Seriously. This is NOT just your run-of-the-mill fried rice.

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Fried rice is the Asian goddess of all things leftover. Except when I was really young, we never really ordered fried rice in Chinese restaurants. It’s sort of like going out to a Vegas buffet and only getting bread–you know, the cheap stuff that anyone (in this case, a shoddy graduate student) can make, and still make taste decent. That’s not to pooh-pooh fried rice, because I love the stuff; it’s just not something a respectable member of an Asian household is supposed to indulge in. (Please don’t tell my parents I love Panda Express too, okay?)

Back at home, though, my mom made it every time we had anything to use up–vegetables, tofu, eggs, the whole lot just went phut! into the sizzling wok, and minutes later we’d each have a heaping plateful of amazing fried rice sitting on our plates, ready to be inhaled right up.

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Maybe that’s why, weirdly enough, I never cooked a single Asian dish when I was at home. When you have actual Asian relatives running around the kitchen making amazing, authentic fare, you’re going to want to stick to stuff that isn’t going to make you look like a disgrace to your heritage. Pick a dish that nobody has heard of–the more exotic-sounding the better (for example, pierogies or bouillabaisse!), though–and you’re in business! The family will instantly think it’s the best thing in the world, simply by virtue of having nothing to compare it to.… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Rice, Vegetarian

Picnic Perfect Cauliflower Salad for #SundaySupper

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Considering it’s been 90+ degrees for the past two weeks already, to say we’re in “springtime” might be something of a misnomer. Scorching heats and sunny pool days? Summertime, I’m ready. So I say

Bring. It. ON. 

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But the sad, sad reality is that despite my summertime excitement, the orbital progress of Earth around the sun isn’t quite ready for me yet. I hear that in some parts of the northern hemisphere, spring is actually happening! We were visiting Seattle last week and there were nothing but miles of blue sky overhead–guess we brought the Cali weather with us:

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As it turns out, either Seattleans have really got their A-game going or I’m just woefully ignorant of the froyo options available in my home state, because this wonderful frozen yogurt place named Menchie’s carries a Cookie Butter flavored froyo. I must’ve stood there eating my weight in free samples until my friends had to tear me away from the machine–because if you’ve ever tasted the aromatic nectar known as cookie butter, you’ll know what I’m talking about and forgive my rudeness instantly. Right?

Proof:

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Of course, we spent the first spring days eating our way through Seattle. One of my friends lives nearby, so he took us for an absolutely fabulous dinner at a pizza joint called Serious Pie, where I ordered a mushroom truffle cheese pizza that was off the charts. Also, my seatmate on the flight over was a Seattle native, so we spent a better part of two hours chatting about all the good eats and obscure gems hidden throughout the city. Among her many recommendations was this Russian bakery known as Piroshky Piroshky, located at the heart of Pike Place Market and specializing in the best savory breads around.

When I asked the man behind the counter whether I should get the Garlic Cheese Roll or the “famous” Potato Cheese Bread, he didn’t even hesitate before he stuffed the first one in my bag and asked me if I wanted anything else:

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Like dutiful tourists, we also made sure to get our fair share of donuts.… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Salads, Vegetarian

Miso Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries, Sunflower Seeds, + Feta

Luck isn’t just a condition of our existence. It’s something we can make happen. It’s an attitude.

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Granted, some people simply are lucky. At least that’s the premise of that awfully addicting 2006 rom-com Just My Luck featuring Lindsay Lohan and Chris Pine, who are the luckiest and unluckiest people in the world, respectively. When they kiss one night at a party, their luck swaps and Chris’s character is suddenly waltzed away into a euphoria of fortunate circumstances that launch his music career and basically turn his life around.

I would highly recommend this movie for a night when the only thing you want in your brain is lots of nothing and eye candy action going on.

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IMHO, though, luck is akin to mojo: the better your mojo and your general vibes, the more likely you are to feel lucky, which in turn affects how likely you are to be lucky.

This past week was full of lots of lucky incidents, ranging from small things like wishing away the line at Chipotle (we were trying to order quesaritos and didn’t want to do it if anybody was waiting impatiently behind us) to some bigger things as well. Friday–incidentally, Friday the 13th–I was channeling some serious positive vibes and basically bounced through the entire day from place to place under the (of course) sunny skies of a not-so-wintry March.

It’s amazing how a simple shift of perspective can turn a dismal, dreary week into a fantastic one. On Wednesday, I taught my final class of the quarter and my students clapped so hard at the end that I thought my heart would break from happiness. That’s what I mean when I say that it’s not all about being lucky–feeling lucky is just as important, and I definitely felt lucky, grateful, and blessed when I walked out of the classroom that day.… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Salads

Creamy Carrot Peanut Soup

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I will always be young at heart, but I’m a stodgy old grandma in stomach.

I should know–I just spent the past week with my grandma and spent every mealtime sitting side by side shoveling the same pile of the mushiest, creamiest, dissolveable-iest edible stuff into our mouths. With matching chopsticks and purple down jackets, I might add. (We’re pretty cute like that.)

A huge part of this uncanny resemblance is that, since I started grad school, I have become a weirdly obsessive “texture person.”

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I have somehow always labored under the impression that most people outgrow their pickiness about food as maturity sets in. Either I missed that train or boarded on the wrong platform and am now hurtling full-steam ahead in the opposite direction, because while I have learned to love certain foods I wouldn’t touch as a kid (e.g. eggplant, mushrooms, watermelon), I have also become that person at the restaurant. You know, the one who insists that you order anything for the table (“no really, totally up to you, I’ll be fine!”) and then sits there picking at the steamed broccoli for the rest of the night because she doesn’t particularly like the curry, avocado salad, meat, and/or banana cream pie you ordered.

Whoops.

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Probably the strangest aspect of this retrogression, atavism, degeneration, or whatever you want to call it, is my penchant for creamy things. Set a huge bowl of peanuts in front of me and I might pop one, just to be polite. Plop a jar of peanut butter down, on the other hand, and I’ll ask you nicely for a spoon–along with an affidavit signature confirming that you won’t press charges if you don’t get your PB back. Like, ever.

Garbanzo beans? Eh. Hummus? Step aside, bub.

Carrots? Fine, I’ll eat them. Creamy carrot peanut soup?… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Creamy Gochujang Peanut Pasta Salad for #SundaySupper

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It feels slightly perverse to be back posting about delicious food and rich baked foods after watching the latest installment of The Hunger Games. We nipped over to a fancy shmancy theater last night to watch it–I actually dressed up as Peeta the baker, using a HIGHLY suspect grimy white apron I tripped over on the sidewalk on my way to buy a white apron from Target (don’t worry, I disinfected it in scalding water!)–and so obviously I come home and have food on the mind. As one would.

I take my cues only from the best: ahem, like JLaw.

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The movie mildly disappointed me, but I wonder if that wasn’t because I’d just spent every waking hour of this past week catching up on everything to do with The Hunger Games: blew through all three books for the first time (I know, I know!), rewatched both film adaptations, struggled emotionally to lead a semblance of a normal life when I wasn’t reading, silently applauded Josh Hutcherson from my couch, and watched every HG interview Google had the good fortune to pass my way.

The pace of this movie matches that of the book: it’s slow, there’s no denying it. That being said, the acting is still grade-A (perhaps I’m mentioning that in the vain hope that somewhere, somehow, one of the talent has stumbled across this post and will give it a big thumbs up), and Josh’s final performance in particular sent tiny cold waves up my spine and right over the nape of my exposed neck. They’ve done a great job bringing the book’s trauma to life, and goodness knows I’m empathizing 110% with Katniss’s confusion about the two boys in her life because #boys.

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At a vastly different level, though, the movie reminded me of issues closer to home: all the nameless faces who wander our local thoroughfares and drag along their hollow stomachs with empty eyes.… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Gochujang Peanut Asian-Style Pasta for #SundaySupper

It’s my first post as part of the Sunday Supper family! If you are stopping by because you’re a #SundaySupper member, be warned: I MIGHT  LOVE YOU ALREADY.

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Remember how I told you guys about my Smile a Day wall over on my good friend Nancy’s blog? Well, this group most certainly qualifies for an entire Smile-A-Day wall of its own–I hadn’t even officially scheduled my first post and last Wednesday I received this outpouring of #SundaySupper love:

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They’re like the children’s lit scholars of the academic world: bubbly, personable, excited about what they do, and thrilled to share the experience with everyone they know. Forget Platinum Club Exclusive Blogging: these folks want their members to feel welcome–and what’s more, they’re eager to be all like, “Hey, we’re pretty cool, mebbe you should join us?”

So yeah, I’m pretty stoked to be here–oh and if you are pumped as well, you can learn all about Sunday Supper here. The actual logistics are a little confusing at first, so feel free to message me if you have questions!

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Each Sunday, the group gathers virtually to share a bunch of awesome recipes based on the week’s theme. Today’s theme calls for firing up those grills and embracing the lackadaisical summer heat: it’s Summer BBQ!

I first discovered #SundaySupper through the inestimable Liz, whose blog That Skinny Chick Can Bake I’ve been following since the dawn of time (or like a year ago). She’s been my awesome mentor and walked me through every step of Sunday Supper, so here’s my yodel to her! Yodelethankyou! My good friend Courtney from Neighbor Food has also been super helpful–thanks, girls!

My inaugural host: Melanie from Melanie Makes. THANK YOU. You will forever go down in history as the wonderful blogger who paved my foray into the wonderful world of Sundays.… Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner

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.
Read more

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Filed under Appetizers, Lunch & Dinner

LWOM: Kimchi Pancakes, Okonomiyaki (and Other Things Tacky, From Sam-I-Am)

I’m not Sam–but take a look!

Sam-I-am is in this book.

I’m sure you all know how Sam-I-am…

Loves a good dish of green eggs and ham.

But the question to ask,

We must take to task!

It’s not such a crime…

We’ll ask, “Do pancakes buzz?”

(But that doesn’t rhyme!)

(Well now it does.)

Would they

buzz over coffee?

(Try feeding them toffee!)

Or would they

buzz o’er papers?

(If you paired them with capers.)

Do they sound a bit tacky?

(Just like okonomiyaki.)

But what could that mean?

(We hope it’s nothing obscene.)

Are you sure that’s a pancake?

Why, what else could it be? 

It’s not a waffle

or a donut

or a pig

or a tree.

(And better still, we think it’s made of kimchi!)

So whether or not these pancakes do buzz

or chuckle

or snarfle

or gigglerooruzz,

And whether they’re made of red clouds

or green bean,

Have some okonomiyaki–

(BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?)

So now we conclude without really concluding

Our noggins confuzzled and our parents deluding.

Here was the tale of our pancakes a-buzz.

But we know you will love them–

At least, Sam-I-am sure does.

This post is part of the Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt (LWOM) series here at Wallflour Girl, where Ala takes a popular or classic literary character and uses him/her/it to tell a story about her recipes.  Ala is an English literature graduate student with a strong interest in children’s literature, Victorian lit, and everything in between, beyond, bubbly, or burgundy. Ala does not own the rights to any of these characters or original literary texts, although she does own pancakes that are neither pigs nor trees. This series is intended to offer you a glimpse into her world through our shared love for food.Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

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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Filed under Appetizers, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian