Tag Archives: cheese

Risotto Al Funghi (Mushroom Risotto)

In a way, it’s a bittersweet feeling to sit down and write what I suddenly realize will be my final (dedicated) post about my travel in Europe this summer. It’s been over two months since I returned from the final leg of my visit in Italy, yet it’s hard to imagine how differently my summer would have panned out–how different everything might be right now–if I hadn’t decided 5 months ago to take this trip. So with a bowl of this creamy mushroom risotto in hand (it’s one of my favorite Italian dishes and not as difficult to make as it sounds, as long as you’re patient–you can find the recipe at the bottom of this article), I wanted to spend this post reflecting on a few important lessons that I learned from my summer visit abroad.

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What I learned during my three weeks in Europe:

1. Take the road less traveled. One of the main reasons that I wanted to take this trip in the first place was to experience something completely new and outside of my comfort zone. Unlike most vacations that I’ve taken in the past, this sojourn was carefully engineered to include both a healthy mix of tourist destinations and some wildly unfamiliar places that I never would have visited otherwise. My decision to visit Alex in Cork and Alessio in Putignano, in particular, was motivated by the fact that I knew nothing about either of those places and would be a complete stranger to the regions when I arrived. Allowing myself to be more spontaneous than I usually am and simply experience these places with no expectations not only opened up new opportunities, but also helped me appreciate every single moment for what it was.

2. Surround yourself with the people who bring out the best in you and are happy just to see you happy, not because they want something out of it in return.Read more

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Creamy Tomato Penne Pasta with Jalapeno Poppers

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #20MinutesToTasty #CollectiveBias

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I’m taking a break from talking your ears off about my Europe trip today to tell you all about what went down this Halloween weekend with this mm-mazing Creamy Tomato Penne Pasta with Jalapeno Poppers! (Which, I suppose, is Italian food, so I suppose we’re still talking about Italy today. Bite me, Italy rocks.)

This weekend we invited over our new “global siblings” family for a Halloween potluck & party. The fam is part of a program that helps international and domestic students connect throughout the year in an open, welcoming environment, and this year Anson & I are co-coordinators for our 30-sib group! About twenty of us crammed ourselves into my cozy apartment on Saturday night, dressed to the nines in pirate gear and oblique Game of Thrones costumes involving dragons. We all had such a blast, getting to know each other and mingling and chowing down and, in typical grad student fashion, drinking. Four hours prior, however, the fun had already begun–A had brought his bluetooth speakers and we were jamming out to 80s dance music in my kitchen while exchanging costumes (I was young Ellie from Up, he had a kangaroo onesie) and cooking up a storm with this bomb-amazing pasta!

Halloween Kangaroo

Diligently preparing pasta–perfect for entertaining season!–for our sibling potluck

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One of the things that I love most about this pasta is that, amidst all the bustle and business of trying to get ready in time for the family party and the rest of the entertaining season, it only took 20 minutes to make from start to finish. Knowing under what time crunch we’d be operating on Saturday afternoon, I had made a trip over to Walmart the day before to grab a box of Farm Rich jalapeno poppers and another of breaded mushrooms in the frozen food aisle of the store, thinking that I’d toss them into one of our pasta potluck dishes. … Read more

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Filed under Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Watercress Pesto Pasta

 Europe trip recap! If you haven’t caught up on my three-week sojourn in the other hemisphere, so far I’ve talked about British bakeries, spending my birthday abroad, real-life Harry Potter encounters, some personal details from my trip in the UK, the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and lots of food (and Guinness!) in Ireland. And of course, the adventures continue below!

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Italy was a world in and of itself. I had visited Rome and Venice once in seventh grade, but this trip–taken nearly 14 years later–was something special. After a one-day layover from Ireland to England, I hopped on a plane that would take me to the final part of my Europe trip in the south of Italy. Bari, where the airport is located, is about an hour north of Putignano, a quiet town with a population of about 28,000 and home to Italy’s oldest annual Carnival. My friend Alessio picked me up from the airport and we took a tour of Bari (complete, of course, with my first taste of authentic Italian gelato) before heading south to the large countryside home where we would be staying for the week.

As a girl who can barely afford 500 square feet of living space in cramped Los Angeles, the idea of living in a second home in the country three months out of the year was completely unfathomable to me. When we rumbled up the narrow dirt lane that led to Alessio’s house that evening and his family came out onto the beautiful stone-laid patio to greet us, however, I could feel blissful imagination meld into a reality more romantic than anything that I could have dreamed up on my own. The country home was a converted ranch with a rustic outdoor seating area, several well-tended gardens bordering the patio, and rolling fields of grass that stretched to the outer edges of the property. … 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

Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls for #SundaySupper

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Happy new year!

Remember when I shared that insanely cheesy Garlic Crack Bread with all of you last month? Well, I have another recipe up my sleeve that will warm your heart and clog our lovely arteries with equally unapologetic fervor–the perfect way to start the new year in my book. Reader, please to make the acquaintance of these Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls! Trust me, this is going to be one fast friendship you won’t want to miss in 2016!

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I don’t know about your holiday traditions, but the table at holiday dinners (especially this past Christmas) is always something of a battle zone in our family. The number of innovative chefs in our family is skyrocketing as our numbers continue to expand–thank goodness for food-savvy in-laws!–but this also means more jostling elbows and flying forks with which to wrangle when it comes to getting food on my plate. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a great system for winning our annual food fights, and it’s this…

Channeling my inner Katniss Everdeen. Muahahaha. May the brussel sprouts be ever in my favor!

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A second (perhaps slightly less worrisome) alternative is to make all of the best food at home and consume as much of it as you’d like before bringing it over to share. That may or may not have been the case when it comes to these Cheesy Garlic Crescent Rolls. Shhh!

I first tried them at Thanksgiving, when one of my cousins brought out a tray as pre-dinner tasters. They’re exactly what they sound like: oozing, melty mozzarrella cheese wrapped in a warm blanket of crescent roll, butter, and garlic. How could I not recreate them on my own?

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Fortunately, I was hosting an end-of-year holiday party for my friends a few weeks back at my place, which meant that I had a chance to flex my foodie muscles and test out my theory.… Read more

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Pull-Apart Cheesy Garlic Crack Bread

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As usual, life has caught up with my sorry behind and that means I’m behind here! I’ve been taking a 1-week sanity break after the World Food Championships, and another week to accommodate a nasty flu that popped up on Thanksgiving day. There’s so much to catch you guys up on!

Item number one is the amount of holiday festivities that have been going on here. Oh my goodness gracious, guys–the amount of food coma-ing happening has been obscene. Anybody else in the same boat?

Last night I hosted a White Elephant party for my international friend family, and it was SO much fun. By 5 PM, there were 18 people crammed into my stuffy apartment, and pretty soon there was a cheerful chatter filling up the tiny room as folks chowed down on all the great food my friend & I had whipped up that afternoon. (Fried rice, green onion pancakes, squash casserole, cheesy crescent rolls, jello cheesecake, maple brussel sprouts–forget stopping at “full,” you don’t go home from my food parties until you hate yourself :) ) It’s strange to think that we all met each other for the first time a scant two months ago, but one of my favorite things about international communities is how quickly they pull together. A few weeks ago, another friend of ours hosted a Friendsgiving at his much larger, much more impressive and jacuzzi-swaggering residence. There was turkey, this cheesy garlic crack bread which was praised over-the-moon, s’mores made over a real fireplace, and so much merriment that I just about thought I would burst! It’s joyous moments like these that make me swell with the holiday spirit and ooze candy canes out of my pores, not that anybody needs an image of that stuck in their heads today…

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In other news, my friend J is visiting for his residency interviews and he’s such a boss!… 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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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

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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