Orange, Almond & Apricot Biscotti

You know the best thing about having sisters? It’s like having mandatory friends – friends who visit and bring you food. You know what’s even better than a sister? A little sister who likes to bake, which mine does. Hallelujah! Baby sister Bee was in town a few weekends ago to deal with some grad school applications and she brought me up some fresh baked biscotti!

When she was just a little tot in elementary school, I remember her attempting to bake lemon bars by herself one Saturday morning and being absolutely crushed when they came out terribly. So adorably sweet. Such terrible, terrible burnt lemon bars.

Well, she’s come a long way from those days! Because these biscotti were absolutely addicting. They were dense and doughy but crispy on the edges. Each bite was chock full of crunchy almond bits and chewy sweet pieces of dried apricot. They probably should have been a bit crispier, but Bee says she may have over done it with the orange juice. Remind me to tell you another time why we always called her the juicer growing up!

I killed about four of them and then decided later that evening that they would go great with jam. So cue some last minute midnight jam making! Nothing fancy – I had a bag of frozen mixed fruits (namely strawberries, peaches and pineapple) that I use for smoothies. I threw some of those in a pan with some orange juice, a bit of stevia, and some cinnamon. Soften, smash, reduce and voila! Jam!

I let it cool in the fridge overnight and treated myself to some biscotti and jam with my coffee the next morning. Yum! Anywho, if you don’t have a little sister to do your baking for you, try out this recipe she used: Orange, Almond & Apricot Biscotti.

Some tips from baker Bee if you do:

  • Bake at a higher temp. It takes much longer to golden than expected.
  • Measure out your juice.
  • Cut smaller pieces on the diagonal if you want to get the full 24 slices.
  • It’s a super sticky dough. Get ready to put use some elbow grease.

Happy Eating! xo.

Happy Valentine’s Day | Easy Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies

I’ve kind of always loved Valentine’s Day. Single or not, it just seemed like a good reminder to get a little cheesy and share some love. I wanted to do something a little special for my guy this year, but between training and work I didn’t have a ton of time. Cue the easiest cookies in the world.

Warning: If you’re not the type of person to eat peanut butter just straight out of the jar, this is not the cookie for you, my friend.

I came across Ovenly’s Peanut Butter cookie recipe through Food52’s Salted Peanut Butter Pie recipe. I clicked the link and bookmarked, then came across it again on Smitten Kitchen’s blog the very next day. I figured that was a sign. Everyone was raving about them in the comments. Plus, there are literally only 3 essential ingredients. Chances are you’ve already got them sitting around your kitchen right now.

Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Light brown sugar (335g)
  • Creamy Peanut Butter (450g)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Course Sea Salt (optional)
  • Butterscotch chips (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F . Whisk together eggs and brown sugar.

Fold in peanut butter, vanilla extract, and your toppings of choice. I’ve been craving butterscotch cookies so I tossed in plenty of chips into the dough.

Freeze dough, then scoop cookies in desired size/shape onto a baking pan. Freeze again for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle each with a little bit of sea salt and pop those babies in!

They should take anywhere between 14 – 18 minutes to finish depending on how chilled the dough is. Just keep an eye on the color and pull them out when they’re golden. They don’t flatten too much, so don’t wait for that!

The freezing is an important step! This helps the cookies keep their bite-sized ball shape and finish with that crispy on the outside, dough-y in the middle texture that I love.

I didn’t have a little scooper so my cookies were more mismatched and oddly shaped, but honestly still wonderful. Weird-looking sweets is part of the charm in baking from scratch anyway, right?

I wish I had nicer photos to share, but I baked these in the wee hours of the night and didn’t stop much to capture the steps. Whoops! They’re delicious, though. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! My peanut-butter loving valentine ate ten for dinner. If I weren’t on a diet, I absolutely would have too.

It’s such a simple recipe, I feel like you could really go crazy with it. I have a hunch they’d make fantastic cookie sandwiches with some jam in between. PB&J, anyone?

I don’t really bake much, but this was so much fun. What are your favorite baking recipes? I’d love to try them out!

Happy New Year | Crab Rangoon Recipe

Happy Lunar New Year! While this holiday isn’t nearly as celebrated in the States as it is over in the East, it’s still a huge deal in Asian-American communities. For my family, it means weekend-long get-togethers and a spread of way too much food for the number of guests in attendance. I’m pretty sure my mom only invites me home for the extra help in the kitchen (Kidding, my mom would kidnap me and keep me home always, if possible). That being said, I woke up at 7am last Saturday to help her churn out some apps for the family.

If you’ve ever been to a 3-star asian seafood buffet or picked up some Panda Express for a last minute meal, you are no stranger to the Crab Rangoon. Stuffed with a creamy fake crab filling, this is no fancy appetizer. Nonetheless, it’s always a party favorite. They’ve been mine since I was little and basically begged my mom to figure out how to make them. So we’ve been churning these out for every party since I was like ten.

It’s not a complicated recipe, but hand-folding all the wontons can take some time. Luckily, if you make an assembly line of your favorite sisters (or whoever you can rope into it), wonton making becomes a good hour of family bonding.

Ingredients

  • 16oz Imitation Crab
  • 16oz Cream Cheese
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Chives / Green onions
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Egg
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

1.Mark sure wonton wrappers and “crab” are fully defrosted. Set cream cheese out for a little bit to soften or blending will be quite difficult.

2. Finely chop up your chives or green onions. Enough to fill about half a cup.

3. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until the onions soften.

4. Add onions, “crab” and 8oz of the cream cheese into a food processor.

5. Pulse until everything is roughly chopped and mixed together. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop up the crab and onions by hand then combine in with the cheese.

6. Pour out into a mixing bowl and fold in the remaining 8oz of cream cheese.

7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

8. Alright folks it’s wrapping time! Scoop about a teaspoon of cheese mix into a wonton wrapper.

9. Crack an egg into a bowl. Dip a finger or cooking brush into the egg and brush around the edges of the wonton wrapper.

10. With two fingers each hand, pinch four sides of the wrapper in to meet in the middle. You should end up with this little X shape.

11. Pinch the middle so the sides stick together, then work your way out along the edges of the X, slowly pressing all the gaps closed.

12. Voila! One wonton down, many many more to go. Keep folding until all your wontons are ready to fry!

13. Okay, frying time! Fill your fryer with your oil of choice and get the temperature up to about 425 to 450 degrees.

14. Pop your wontons in a few at a time and take them out with a slotted spoon once they’re evenly golden-brown. It’s important that they’re sealed really well or they’ll pop open at this step. Trust me, exploding wontons are much less tasty.

15. Set them on a rack to cool, letting the excess oil drip off the bottom.

16. Enjoy!

Hope your family loves these as much as mine! They’re great for little hands and disappear in seconds. Happy Eating!

Boiling Crab Seafood Boil Recipe

If you’ve ever been to a Boiling Crab, Kicking Crab, The Crab Shack or any similar restaurants, you’re probably pretty familiar with the giant mess that is a cajun seafood boil. Funnily enough, despite being so heavily marketed as a Southern, Louisiana cuisine, these seafood shacks are very closely tied to Vietnamese American families. An influx of refugees ended up in the Southern states post-war. The social, hands-on casual style of the seafood boil is something that resonates quite strongly with the Vietnamese. We’re all about any type of finger food that you can slowly work through with a beer at your side surrounded by friends.

Ironically, I had no interest in Boiling Crab until college. (Too many shrimp heads, which baby Jeannie found gross). But then I tried it and went through a food phase where it was all I wanted every time I ate out. Unfortunately, the neighborhood I live in now doesn’t have a convenient one around for miles. Not even one close enough to deliver. So I had to make do. While this isn’t perfect, the recipe’s close enough to hit the spot!

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Ingredients

  • 1lb Shrimp shell-on
  • 1 Potato
  • 1 corn (I use the sweet frozen ones)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red curry
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • A little bit of louisiana hot sauce if you want it spicier. You can also just add more cayenne pepper.

Instructions

1.  Bring pot of water to boil.
2.  Throw potatoes in for 10 minutes.
3.  Add corn and a couple minutes later, shrimp.
4.  Once shrimp turns pink, immediately pour whole pot out into a strainer. If you overcook the shrimp, it gets really hard to peel.
5.  Add butter and garlic to pot.
6.  Once the butter is all melted and the garlic has gotten soft, mix in all your spices.
8.  Add extra seasoning to taste.
9.  Combine shrimp, potato and corn in a big bowl with the sauce.
10.  Shake it up and eat!
Happy Eating!
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Vietnamese Braised Pork & Eggs | Recipe

My momma is probably one, if not the biggest, reason why I grew up to be such a food addict. Almost all my memories with her growing up took place in the kitchen or around food. She loves to cook. Sure, she had her traditional Vietnamese staples, but she also tried to recreate any dish she enjoyed or found intriguing (thanks Food Network). We had fish tacos every weekend for three months until she was satisfied with her recipe. Ha! But today’s recipe is not one of those. This is actually one of those aforementioned traditional Vietnamese staples. It’s something she would whip together on a regular ‘ole day and it was never a point of excitement as a kid.

Having grown up and moved out, it’s somewhat of a rarity to eat it now. It’s not commonly served in Vietnamese restaurants and definitely not at the trendy ones you can find on the westside. It’s a homecooked family meal through and through. Without further ado, here’s Mama Nguyen’s thịt kho trứng, or in other words, braised pork and eggs.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lb. of fresh pork belly or pork ribs
  •  6 to 8 eggs
  •  1 can Natural Coconut Flavored Soda (COCO RICO)
  •  Salt
  • Sugar
  • Black pepper
  • Cooking oil

Directions

Let’s get cooking!

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, but leave the eggs in the pot for another 5 minutes.  Then, place the eggs in a cold water to cool them down. Peel the eggs and use a tooth pick to poke a few holes all around each egg. We want all the delicious seasoning to be able to seep in.

thit kho 1

Next, rinse off your cut of pork and pat it dry with a paper towel. Cut the pork into approximately one and a half inch squares. Sprinkle with some salt and black pepper.

thit kho 2

Okay, so flip on your stovetop fans or open a window because it’s time to make our caramel! Which inevitably leads to some smoke rising off and if you’re in a teeny tiny Los Angeles apartment like me with the world’s most sensitive smoke alarm, you’ll want to pop a window or two.

Add 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of sugar to the dry pot and cook on high heat, stirring frequently until the sugar melts into a light brown liquid.

thit kho 4

Quickly, stir in all the meat so the caramel doesn’t burn on the bottom. Caramel goes from delightful to smoky burnt rather quickly, so if you think you’re going to be a bit slow with the meat, feel free to flip off the heat, stir the meat in, then turn it back up.

thit kho 6

When all the pieces of the meat turn light brown,  pour in the full can of coconut soda and two cups of water. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper and one tablespoon sugar. Cover the pot.

thit kho 7

As soon as the pot begins boiling, uncover it and skim away all the white foam off the surface. Add in the eggs and cover the pot once more. Bring the heat back down to low and let the dish simmer for about an hour, hour and a half – or until the water reduces almost to the bottom of the pot. This step largely depends on personal preference. If you like thicker sauce, allow it to cook for longer. Just know that leaner cuts of meat can dry out a little if you do. If you like a thinner, wetter sauce, take it off the heat sooner.

thit kho 10

As always, season to taste as you go! This usually is enough for our family of five, so share with friends or you’re set with meal prep for the week. Traditionally, this dish is paired with rice (Mama says nothing beats white rice) and a pickled vegetable dish. Recipes for how to make those coming soon! Until then, happy eating!

Modifications

Keto? Swap out all the sugar for stevia or erythritol and you’ll be good to go. Stick with the fattier pork belly to longer sustenance. You can get diet coco rico or maybe try a coconut flavored sparkling water instead, though you’ll have to up your other sweeteners to compensate for the sugar.

Want it even lower cal? Switch out pork belly for a much leaner cut like the rib or shoulder even.

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Want to bookmark on Genius Kitchen? Here you go!