Saturday, September 29, 2012

Innovating the Lettuce Wraps

The one con to this delicious and convenient dish is that it's kind of messy. Which isn't really what you would expect, huh? But the lettuce leaves don't always hold the stuffing  very well and everything kind of just ends up spilling all over the plate.

Fine, I also wouldn't call myself the daintiest of eaters (insert image of Jennifer eating a California burrito here).

So I had this awesome epiphany to rip up the lettuce leaves and put everything in one big bowl instead, and WALA! Problem solved.

That's right, I can get by without being a princess eater just fine. Screw conforming to normal girl standards! Haha...ha...ha...(says the girl who orders "make up" aka burts bees off ebay).

Eggplant for Esther

This crazy, miniature, psychotic, bipolar, weird, and quirky little korean girl is my room mate from freshman year.

...I couldn't think of any more adjectives for CRAZY, or I would have included them.

But she's also one of my dearest friends. We've had a ton of great memories together, and despite being a little coocoo in the can, I couldn't live without her.

And while we're on this topic of CRAZY, can you believe this girl has never tried eggplant before this?!


Unfortunately, I made this eggplant too salty again. But other than that, it turned out great. I think it mostly has to do with that pao dou fu shiz. Just cannot get enough! And she seemed to really like it, so I guess our eggplant deflowering mission was ultimately a success! (eggplant deflowering...that's something I never thought I would ever say in my life, ever).

It was lovely having her over for dinner. Hopefully we get together and do it more often, and then she can cook me some korean foods!

Did I get the message across though that this girl is cray-zee?!

Love you BigE! -Lil J

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cooking for Cheeseboard

Have I ever told you about my love-love-LOVE relationship with Cheeseboard? It's a very special bond that warrants its very own long, detailed post.

Cheeseboard is my all-time, hands down favorite place to eat in Berkeley. Not just for its divine tasting pizza, but for the entire experience: the unique flavors, median seating, coop business model, and the people who work there too.

This story actually starts with a younger Jennifer, who always dreamed of becoming a cool "regular" like she always saw on TV. You know, those people who come into a cafe every morning, order "the regular" at the counter, and then continue to converse with the waiter as if they were the best of friends? I wanted that soooo bad, it was up there with "have a gay best friend" on the list of things I really needed so I could lead a better life. I clearly have my priorities in order.

Years later, and it finally happened. And like most things in life, it happened when I was least expecting it and when I wasn't explicitly trying. Some coy smiles, a friendly albeit upfront and quirky demeanor, and some cheerful conversation later, and all the sudden I began solidifying a relationship with CHEESEBOARD, of all places. Cheeseboard.

And from then on, the relationship just grew. And flourished. And equated to copious amounts of free, delicious, mouthwatering pizza. Sometimes I still can't believe that this is my life. I haven't walked away from Cheeseboard without something unpaid for this entire semester so far! And they say there is no such thing as free lunch...?

I'm in love.

My friends who work there are Louie and Pierre. They spoil me like the little princess that I really should be trying to curb more often. But then I start getting free pies and bags of cookies from my favorite restaurant...<3 and I am in heaven.  Whyyyyyy are they so good to meeeeeee? :)

My gratitude towards them cannot be fully encompassed in words. I wonder if they will fully realize just how much happiness they have added to the over-all quality of my life. Occasionally, I would buy them cupcakes from the awesome store Love at First Bite to thank them. A small cupcake in exchange for an entire pizza is hardly a fair trade, but this somehow further reinforced my status as the Cheeseboard Girl, and rewarded me with even MORE free food. I swear, this was not my intention at all. But it was kind of the engagement ring that tied the knot I think.

Fast forward to today. I decided to spontaneously bake some HOME MADE goodies for Cheeseboard instead of buying cupcakes for them. I figured that this would be more meaningful, and it says a lot coming from me, because I am pretty adamant against baking in college.

But for Cheeseboard? Anything.

To the point where I had to make TWO baking attempts before I created a product worth delivering to Cheeseboard. I figured if I baked the night before, then if things went wrong (perhaps from experience...? Haha, #summerfun) I would have the next day to put something together.

For once, I actually had spot-on foresight...


The title sounds weird, yes. But I found this recipe on Pinterest (READ: Spent insane hours beyond 2am on Pinterest obsessively searching for THE PERFECT baking recipe for Cheeseboard) that looked so easy to make, and required very few ingredients that I did not already have.

Long story short, they turned out as weird as they sounded.

^the batter though, was pretty flippin' delish

The texture was cakey, and the bake time was so exact to the point that leaving them in the oven for 2 minutes extra made them brown already.



Lets be real, this does not look appetizing at all.

Taste wise, they were okay. It's hard to royally screw up baking, because anything with sugar/butter/marshmallows/cream is edible in my book.

^the inside texture was literally just cake. Hence, cake cookies.

But these were not even close to Cheeseboard worthy. So they never left my kitchen.

Difficulty: 1 (easiest thing I've ever baked)
Willingness to make again: 5 (if I never need a quick, go-to baked good and am seriously screwed on time)
Over-all: 7
1. Do NOT bake over 10 minutes exactly
2. Good base recipe: can add marshmallows/nuts/chocolate
3. Make a tad sweeter with either more additives or more sugar.



I decided on making rice krispies the next day because they required me to only buy the cereal and let me use up the rest of the marshmallows I had bought. Also, krispies are hard to screw up, and are always delicious.

^so. much. chocolate.

Too bad this turned out to be the most stressful, exhausting, and horrifying baking experience of my life. (You can tell because I barely took any pictures)

It was a combination of a long day of classes, having to work through sticky rice krispies with my bare hands, having to rush to the dollar store and buy more emergency chocolate bars, and then realizing I didn't leave enough time for the chocolate to cool and having to shove all of them in the freezer (which worked! Btdubs), and finishing everything VERY last minute and booking it to Cheeseboard so I could also make my ph116 meeting on time.

Very. Stressful.

But, so so so worth it.

^notice how I did not have nearly enough chocolate spread. This was when I ran to the dollar store and back in 5 minutes and the cashier looked at me like a crazy person because I bought 10 giant chocolate bars while heaving like the obese person she probably thought I was.

My favorite workers were not working at the time I delivered my goodies, but this was okay with me. I needed to buy 3 pizzas for my meeting, and was very happy to pay for it. After all, my favorite local business deserves my financial contributions, and I am more than willing to give it.  I left my bag of treats with a note attached to one of the other workers, so that they would see it the next day. The idea of them receiving such an awesome morning surprise warms me inside.

Though I haven't seen them since, knowing me and my obsession with their won't take long.

Difficulty: 4.5 (it isn't the actual making part that is hard, but the part where you have to use your hands to mold the krispies)
Willingness to make again: In general? 4. In college? 0. Never baking in college again unless absolutely necessary, like this occasion.
Over-all: 9

Family Eggplant

Did you hear me mention during the previous umpteenth billion times that I love it when the Cousin is over? It blows my mind how I saw her as the older/smarter Stanford girl only once every few years, and now not seeing her for the two weeks she was in Houston was like an eternity.

Well, this past weekend has been full of all sorts of fun. Today, the Cousin and I were able to catch Kiki's Delivery Service, as part of an ongoing Miyazaki film festival in Berkeley. As if I needed any more reason to be obsessed with this place? The movie is SOOOOO good by the way, so if you haven't seen it, or any other Miyazaki film, then stop reading this and go discovery the meaning of happiness! Go!

Right before the movie, the Cousin and I squeezed in an Insanity session (Woot!!) and then needed to make a super quick dinner without being late to the movie. Thank goodness for qieeee ziiiiiiii (smiles!!) #soasian

This eggplant dish has been a staple dinner item in my household for as long as I can remember. So when the Moms bought me a ton of eggplant from 99 Ranch Market last weekend, I couldn't wait to recreate such a homey dish for myself in THIS home of mine.

^"steaming" our eggplant

Using the instructions sent by the Mom, we were able to whip dinner together VERY fast. The only difference here was we didn't use meat, but substituted PAO DO FU (READ: BEST.THING.EVER!!!!!!!!!!! LIKE AVOCADOS?! YES, LIKE AVOCADOS!) That ish is the bees knees because the texture absorbs aaaaaall the flavor into soggy, chewy sponges of flavortasticdeliciousness. That sounded grosser than it actually is, I swear...!

Oh, btdubs, sponge = esponja en espanol. FUN FACT OF THE DAY!

Where was I?

Oh yes, dinner. It was yums. Slightly too salty, but yums. The flavor was quite up to par with what we're used to at home, and also got the Cousin's seal of approval.

I now have one more eggplant and half a bag of pao dou fu left. I think we all know what I'll be having for dinner this week...<3

Fun fact of the day 2 (I am just chalk-full of fun today! You are very welcome): A part of me kind of secretely wants to be an eggplant for Halloween. Just sayin' #iknowiamcool

Difficulty: 3 (1 with the Cousin helping me bai qie zi)
Willingness to make again: 4evur man, tradition is tradition!
Over-all: 8
1. just too salty this time!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

La Note Inspired Eggs

I made myself breakfast again, which is a true sign of functional-responsible-adult-ing because I never eat breakfast.

Except maybe the day after I drink. Not that I was drinking...but if I was.


When the Mom came over, one of the places I knew I wanted to go to with her was La Note, which is a fancypants French place that is supposed to have an amazing brunch menu, and slightly higher prices.  Hehe, I'm so exploitative. Except the Mom didn't think anywhere we went was considered expensive at all-womp. College woes.

One of the dishes we had there was this really yummy goat cheese-scramble on toast, which was SO. GOOD. And frankly, easy to make at home. I mean, yeah, I wasn't going to bake tomatos and all that jazz. But eggs and cheese I can do.

So here is what I had at La Note:

And here is what I made myself for breakfast:

Okay, in hindsight, it isn't as fancy as I imagined in my head. At least not in appearance, but it did taste pretty great/fancy to me, alright? so BACK OFF, I am a fancy cat. mreow :3

I literally just bought packets of goat cheese at Berkeley Bowl and spread it on the bread. Next time, I'll do it sooner while the bread is a little hotter so it melts more. But since the egg on top was hot, it still turned out nice.

Now time to officially start my Saturday! Wooooo..........#somuchworktodo

Friday, September 14, 2012

Amazing Avocado Linguini /[edit]

Holy...crap. I didn't know avocados could get any better, but they just did.
My thing with avocados is, they're already so amazing by themselves, that I find myself a teeny hesitant to cook with them. I could live my whole life off spoonfuls of avocados, and die a very, very happy girl. Sounds so weird coming from me, right? It kind of just feels like a typo that was actually meant to say, oh, I don't know, icecreamcupcakescheesecakebrownies?

Except not. Because avocados are the 

Still, 2 out of my 4 avocados were very soft, and so I needed to use them before they went bad. This recipe from pinterest intrigued me immeiately, and I realized today was a perfect day to make it.

The avocado makes for a deliciously creamy pasta sauce, coupled with minced garlic and some salt, and these noodles were per-fe-ction.

I didn't have lemon juice as the recipe called for, but substituted with my newly acquired rice vinegar, which worked out fabulously. I was especially careful to make sure these noodles didn't become bland the way my brocoli pasta did yesterday.

As if I needed anymore excuse to buy avocados...I can't wait to make these noodles again later this week!

Difficulty: 2
Willingness to make again: 100000000
Over-all: 9.9!
1. NO complaints here! -says Jennifer's happy tummeh

These noodles don't taste nearly as good after being in the fridge. The quinoa based noodles and avocado combine to make a weird, mushy combo. They didn't taste BAD persay, but they don't look or taste nearly as amazing as the day it is made. Good to note for the future...

Broccoli Pasta from PINTEREST

You heard right, I have taken another step towards joining normal society by making myself a Pinterest account. I may or may not have condemned myself...good bye, GPA. But HELLO to an awesome new way for discovering cool recipes! Kind of a win/lose situation, eh?

I remembered to steam my brocoli this time at least

It was a combination of a certain someone (SHAMPA, FREAKING, ROY!), and the fact that the image-based searching looked so elegant and effortless. Now that I'm in school and not sitting in an office from 9am-5pm, I don't have time to slowly peruse food blogs, reading entry by entry. As enjoyable as that was, I wanted a way to find appealing recipes at a faster pace. 

Now though, I have already caught a glimpse at the cocaine-addicting nature Pinterest can be. It sucks your soul...bends time... overwhelms your basic's a gift and the devil's curse I tell you. So I am proceeding with caution; hopefully I won't fail all my classes because of this.

Either way, I found this brocoli pasta recipe and decided to make it for two of my HMAP friends before we headed off to a meeting together. Unfortunately, I don't think they turned out as good as I had hoped. My friends were really nice about it, but I think they were just being nice. It's not that the pasta tasted bad, it just didn't taste great. It was just being a Hufflepluff, not really offending anyone, but not doing anything spectacular either.  #realtalk

Difficulty: 4
Willingness to make again: 5
Over-all: 6
1. One of the main problems was that the ratio was off: too much pasta, not enough ingredients.
2. Because of the bulk issue, also needed more salt and more cheese.
3. I boiled the pasta for too long, without realizing I also needed to fry it. Next time when I boil it, I will  leave it slightly harder, because frying it will continue to cook it.

Love these girlies! We'll be sure to have more baking/cooking parties this semester. And next time I will redeem my cooking for realsies! #HMAPlove

Mamaaaaaa, ooOooOOOOoooo

Having the Mom here these past few days have been absolutely marvelous. My apartment is now the cornucopia of all things food and supply related.
Come at this, Hunger Games.

But really though, I could not feel any more spoiled. Eating out, grocery shopping, more eating out, more groceries, having my laundry done, ordering a new futon, buying house hold supplies, a suitcase full of goodies from home...

It's essentially Christmas here, folks, just college edition.

Before leaving, she even cooked me two giant plates of food that fed me dinner and lunch for most of the week.

It was so easy to just pack up stir fry for lunch, and then heat up more for dinner right when I got home. I felt so taken care of, even when she wasn't here anymore.

You're the best, Moms! 


Friday, September 7, 2012

PB Tofu Again

Happy Friday folks! I hope everyone has had an awesome week as I have, after all there is definitely plenty of sunshine to go around here in Berkeley.

I finally got around to making my peanut butter tofu, and I am happy to say that this time the taste/quality did not diminish in the least from when I made it at home. I think this largely has to do with the fact that I finally got my hands on some real garlic (AGAIN, THANK YOU BESTIE!). 

One substitution I did have to make though, was balsamic vinegar for lime juice/white rice vinegar. Surprisingly though, this didn't do any harm. But I'll make sure to buy some white rice vinegar this weekend when I grocery shop with the Mom.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the Mom is visiting me in Berkeley this weekend? As in, tomorrow?! It has all been very spontaneous/sudden, but I am excited nonetheless. With this good weather, I'm sure the Mom and I will find lots of fun things to do in the bay. The Cousin is finally returning from Houston this Tuesday too, so we will all be reunited again. Yay!

Fridays are the best because, with only one class, I have a lot of time to just chill out. After class, coming home, making myself lunch/dinner, and then finding time to update the blog while watching Batman. Yes, a good Friday indeed.

After this, I will need to exercise and get some work done in a cafe before coming back for some more tofu, and then kickback with the Floormates. Happy Friday indeed.

Over-all: 9
1. Next time, try cutting the tofu smaller, so that it will be easier to make it crispy
2. Add the peanuts in earlier so they have more time to tast