Allison Day
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Friday Fridgg Favorites

{photo credit: The Devil Wears Parsley}


a few of my favorite things on Fridgg this week:

grown-up mac n’ cheese {Dish Diaries}

i’ve always wanted to learn how to make kinako powder {Otaku Food}

sounds like comfort food {Comfy Cuisine}

like a bowl full of jewels {Homemade Hooplah}

who wants to do brunch? {Sweet 2 Eat Baking}

beautiful bread {pochove}

such pretty styling {Selma’s Table}

citrus in the middle of winter is pretty much the best idea ever {Cooking and Beer}

i want this for dinner {Girl Gone Gourmet}

i’ve recently fallen in love with eggplants, so this sounds amazing {Blossom to Stem}

like a cheese plate in a cracker {Calizona}

wraps make dinner fun {Cooking Onions}

on those days when you need a big bowl of comfort food… {Cooking on a Budgeta>}

deep down, i’m always a meat and potatoes kind of girl {Kitchen Sanctuary}

do want {MM’s Kitchen Bites}

yes please {Cooking and Beer}

it’s like the lovechild of omurice and pad thai {adventurefood}

i’ve been in a coconut mood lately {Cooking with Vinyl}

so worth the messy fingers {Jane’s Adventures in Dinner}

if you bring these, you’re totally invited to my Super Bowl party {The Endless Meal}

or these {The Devil Wears Parsley}

since trying it in London, i’ve wanted to make this {Halal Home Cooking}

a good reason to have leftover chicken {Kitchen Sanctuary}

classic meatballs {Mommyhood’s Diary}

i {heart} yuzu kosho {Blossom to Stem}

the prettiest valentine cookies {SugarHero!}

the perfect fried egg photo {My Recipe Book}

will you be my valentine? {Tikkido}

i’m tots intrigued (heh) {Runway Chef}


my Friday Fridgg Favorites are a very small selection of the photos and recipes on Fridgg that I’ve loved in the past week. this is by no means an all-encompassing list of what’s awesome on Fridgg this week. take a look, and find your favorites!

do you have a favorite that I didn’t mention? let me know in the comments!

Butternut Squash with Gochujang and Sesame

butternut squash with gochujang and sesame

The word “resolution” seems so big and intimidating, and I feel like most people who made New Year’s Resolutions have probably already fallen off the boat by now, three weeks into the year.

Personally, I find things stick much better when I make a list of smaller, way more attainable goals. (Am I gonna lose twenty pounds this year? HAH! Not likely. But can I run a 10k? Okay, that’s totally doable.)

(Of course, I’m the kind of dork who puts together a spreadsheet of my goals, and checks them off daily. It works for me, but I understand if most of you aren’t nearly so nerdy.)

This year, I’ve decided I want to become a better cook. As glamorously delicious as my life may seem from my food blogs and Instagram (*snort*), most meals around here consist of roasted veggies, rice, and whatever meat we happen to have on hand. Or cereal. I eat an embarrassing amount of cereal for dinner.

So I made a list of goals for 2015:

  1. improve knife skills
  2. learn how to use pressure cooker
  3. cook something new every week
  4. cook a larger variety of flavors and techniques
  5. find a go-to chili recipe
  6. make proper bolognese lasagna
  7. use waffle maker
  8. make gumbo
  9. learn to cook more spontaneously, whatever’s good
  10. make more dumplings
  11. make it a habit to clean as I go
  12. learn how to brown butter
  13. clean out freezer and pantry
  14. make ramen from scratch
  15. cook soft shell crabs when they’re in season
  16. cook a larger variety of seafood
  17. cook more limited-availability ingredients when they’re in season (like meyer lemons)

I don’t expect to complete them all (I’ve already failed on #3), but when I’m trying to plan out my week, or at a loss as to what to make for dinner, the list has definitely helped nudge me in one way or another.

This butternut squash recipe, from the January 2015 issue of Bon Appetit, was my first attempt at satisfying goal #4 – make more exotic foods. And a very delicious attempt it was! I’ve already made it three or four times, and I have more butternut squash cut up in the fridge, waiting for the gochujang treatment.

If you’re sensitive to spice, you may want to halve the sauce recipe, as it can be quite spicy. That’s also why I prefer to cube my butternut squash, rather than slicing it as directed by the original recipe – more squash per bite results in a slightly less spicy dish. Regardless, it’s delicious, and I highly recommend it! Would go great with any sort of grilled meats, especially galbi or steak.

Gochujang is a spicy Korean fermented soy bean paste, and can be found at many Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find it near you, this is the Gochujang that I use. (Affiliate link)

By the way… anyone have a good chili recipe? :D

butternut squash with gochujang and sesame

Butternut Squash with Gochujang and Sesame, from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 2 tsp shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • flaky sea salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat to 425°F.
  2. Whisk sesame seeds, oil, gochujang, and shoyu in a large bowl until combined. Add butternut squash and toss to coat.
  3. Transfer the butternut squash to a rimmed baking sheet, and arrange it in a single layer.
  4. Roast for about 25–30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until tender and browned on some edges.
  5. Serve topped with green onions and salt.
  6. Enjoy!

Weekly Wanderings

{I love reading the weekly roundups of other food bloggers – what they’re doing, reading, eating, etc. – so I decided to start one of my own. Welcome to the first installment of my Weekly Wanderings – let me know what you think!}

Wonton soup

Son was feeling a little bit under the weather at the beginning of the year, and as is usual for us, if he’s got a cold then I’m guaranteed to get it a few days later, and about ten times worse. So I started the week off sneezing, sniffling, and sleeping as much as I possibly could. Not exactly the way I wanted to start off the year, but hey, sleep is always a good thing.

Luckily for me, I’ve got an amazing man in my life (I may have mentioned him here a few times before ;) ) who drove all the way out to our favorite Thai restaurant to get me their Ba Mee Nam with Wonton (aka wonton soup). So perfect for when you’re feeling under the weather.

Pretty much the first half of the week was fueled by Thai food, menthol cough drops (which really do help with bad sinus pressure!), and those wonderful Puffs Plus Lotion tissues (a total nose-saver). And naps. Lots of naps.

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This blueberry muffin recipe is my favorite, and even moreso when my mom sends a fresh batch over when I’m sick.

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For a while, we’ve had a cheap, crappy little toaster oven, that barely fit four slices of bread, burns anything you try to toast, and gets stuck every time you try to open or close it. I’ve been wanting to get rid of it for ages. So imagine how excited I was when Son surprised me with a new toaster oven on Christmas!

So of course, I’m taking as many opportunities to toast (and roast! and broil! and it even came with a pizza pan!) things as possible. Our daily sandwiches – honey wheat bread, garlic cashew spread, walnut pesto, ham, turkey, and bread and butter pickles – suddenly taste like they’re from a five-star restaurant. Good stuff.

sandwich

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Currently reading: Mastering the Art of French Eating, by Ann Mah

I wish I had read this book before I went to Paris last year! We were so overwhelmed when we went there (plus we only had a couple of days in Paris, so we had barely enough time to catch our breath and eat a few amazing meals before we were off again).

Speaking of Paris, Son and I went to Europe last year! And yes, I’ve been totally remiss in my blogging duties and have hardly shared a single thing about it yet. (Though if you follow me on Instagram, I posted a ton of photos while we were there last year.) But don’t despair! That will definitely be changing soon. There’s so much I want to tell you.

Mastering the Art of French Eating

And yes, those are penguins on my pajama pants. :D

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It’s been a week of extremes – started off quiet and sleeping as much as possible, and ended with me being uncharacteristically social and pigging out for two days.

A colleague was in town on Friday, so we met up with him and his wife in the Sawtelle area of West LA.

When in Sawtelle… Tsujita LA is a must. They now serve their fantastic ramen and tsukemen all day (instead of just at lunch). Both are delicious – Son and I will often get one of each to share.

Tsujita LA ramen

(This time Son wanted to try the salmon don with his ramen, which was also delicious.)

Tsujita LA salmon don

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The next morning, we found out some of my relatives were in town, so we stopped by my dad’s for a short visit… which turned into a much longer visit when we found out that my aunt, who is an amazing cook, was planning on making dinner. What kind of amazing woman drives all the way down to LA from the Bay Area, and then cooks an amazing dinner of pasta carbonara and crab cakes? My aunt, that’s who.

pasta carbonara

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We finished off the week with a little peace and quiet (and yelling at the Seahawks/Packers game – what a comeback!)

Have a wonderful week!

a walk in the park

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, 2014

It’s that time of year again… time for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Hosted by Julie from The Little Kitchen and Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil, the cookie swap benefits Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer. Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has helped to fund four dozen childhood cancer research grants, leading to nine promising new treatments now in clinical trial that are available to children fighting cancer today.

This year is my third year participating in the cookie swap. After making a small donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, each participant is sent the names and addresses of three other food bloggers to send cookies to. In return, three other food bloggers send us cookies! Very awesome, all around.

In 2012, I sent out Lemon Crinkles.

In 2013, I sent out three types of cookies – Cookie Butter Cookies, Gooey Stuffed S’mores Cookies, and Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies.

This year, I was matched with Brett from Green Thumb White Apron, Sara from Sara Ran Away With The Spoon, and Sarah from Sarah Cooks The Books.

Lately I’ve been busy enough that I rarely bake anything during the year – so I decided to go all out, and bake four different types of cookies to send to my matches, since this is my only excuse all year to bake!

The cookies I sent

The first cookies I knew I had to make were these Date Nut Bars, which my late maternal grandmother used to make when I was a kid. I LOVED these as a kid, and still do as an adult!

Secondly, I’ll take any excuse to make these Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from SugarHero! I made them a year ago, but never got around to posting about them, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make them again.

The third type of cookie I decided to make were these Vanilla Refrigerator Cookies topped with Chocolate Ganache – another family recipe from my grandmother. A family favorite.

And lastly, I wanted to make something that Son would enjoy, so I decided to try these Pistachio Cookies.

In return, I got these amazing Russian Tea Cakes from Julie of Sweet and Spicy Monkey

Russian Tea Cakes

… delicious Chocolate Coconut Icebox Cookies from Janelle of F-chem 101 (that Son has hogged all to himself!)…

Chocolate Coconut Icebox Cookies

… and Mexican Wedding Cookies from Kristi of Inspiration Kitchen.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

In addition, since my friend Allison Boyer and I were both doing the cookie swap, we decided to send cookies to each other as well! She sent me these tasty Gingerbread Cookies that I have demolished. I love gingerbread!

Gingerbread

If you missed this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, sign up to be notified about next year’s! It’s great fun, for a good cause… and who doesn’t like getting yummy cookies in the mail?

Date Nut Bars

When remembering my grandmother, everyone talks about the food she made. Especially her wontons. Always her wontons.

She would make huge batches of wontons for family gatherings, for her coworkers, even to sell at fundraising events when my mom and her siblings were in high school. (Four wontons for 25¢ – what a deal!) When she passed away a couple of months ago, several people, from different parts of her life, stood up to share their memories of her. Every single one of them mentioned her delicious wontons.

I’ll always remember her wontons, which still make an appearance at family gatherings.

I’ll remember the white chocolate peanut butter ritz cookies she kept in a bag in her freezer, that she would stealthily send home with my brother because he loved them so much.

I’ll remember her yam pie, which is way more delicious than any pumpkin pie I’ve ever tried.

But most of all, I’ll remember her date nut bars. As a child, they were my absolute favorite thing that she made. (Which says a lot, because there’s a good reason why she’s so fondly remembered for those amazing wontons of hers!) Even though they sound healthy, they were always a huge treat when she made them. And now, even though it’s been years since she’s made them, all it takes is one bite to know that yes, this tastes exactly right.

(And it seems that I’m not the only one – it’s a good thing I made extra, because my brother, who’s usually a health freak, has gone through at least four dozen of them. And when I brought them to our Thanksgiving celebration, the whole family demolished them!)

Although they seem simple, and maybe a little boring, these are easily the favorite of the four cookies I made for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap – even more so than those scrumptious Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies!

Date Nut Bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • dash of salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tsp water
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Cooking Directions

  1. Mix flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add dates and dissolved baking soda. On low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture. By hand, stir in nuts. Chill several hours until firm.
  2. Heat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Form dough into rolls, about the thickness of your index finger and about ten inches long, on a lightly floured surface. Place two rolls five inches apart on each prepared baking sheet. Flatten rolls so they are about two inches wide – they will be very thin.
  4. Bake for no longer than 15 minutes. While hot, cut into one-inch slices. Cool on baking sheets for about five minutes, then remove to cooling racks and let cool completely. Makes about five dozen.