Taiwanese Black Bean Noodles

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

If you go into 5 different Taiwanese restaurants and ordered their Black Bean Noodle (called zha jiang mian in Mandarin), chances are you will receive 5 different variations of this one dish! The Black Bean Noodle recipe, like most other Chinese recipes, really depends on the restaurant or family and what their preferences are! Some places use particular sauces, some add in vegetables, and some even add in beef or seafood in place of the pork! With all this variety, keep in mind that many dishes can be tailored to your own preference and what you like!

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

The recipe I have come to adopt was taught to me by my grandfather. The way he makes it includes the use of mushroom, however, I loath their taste and texture and have a self proclaimed allergy to them. Also, most recipes do not use nearly as much tofu in the sauce as I do, however, my family loves tofu (and by family, I mean me), so I tend to add more than usual. Other than that, here is how I make my grandfathers black bean noodles.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

I was pressed for time and wanted to get dinner on the table by 7pm. I began making dinner at exactly 6:20pm, and to speed things up, I set up my 3 pans: 1 cast iron wok, 1 large nonstick pan, and 1 pot filled with water to boil. If you don’t have a wok, then use a pot.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

To begin, you need to fry up the tofu. I used two packages of the Five Spice flavored tofu (total 16 tofu squares, 8 per package). Dice them up into small 1 centimeter cubes.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

In the pan, heat up some oil (I used extra virgin but vegetable or canola will do just fine). Once the oil is hot, pour in the diced tofu and allow it to brown. Stirring the tofu will cause it to break, so use a spatula to continually turn and flip the tofu. If the tofu is sticking to the pot, add more oil.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

While the tofu is browning, you can start on the sauce. Mince about 1-2 Tbsp of garlic and ginger. In wok, add in oil, and once hot, add in the garlic and ginger. Saute until the aroma of garlic comes out, then add in the pork. Use a spatula to break up the pork until it is thoroughly cooked. As you can see below, a lot of fat comes out of the pork so use a spoon to get rid of any excess fat.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

Make sure you are still constantly flipping your tofu! Also, once your water is boiling, add in your Chinese dried noodles and cook until tender. Drain and coat with a couple tablespoons of oil to prevent them from sticking to one another and set aside until ready to eat.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

When the pork is cooked and the tofu is browned, they can be combined into the wok. Stir to mix it up evenly, then you may add the sauces.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

My grandfather and I have come to favor the “Lian How Brand” of black bean sauce and the varieties that they produce. There are many many different forms of black bean sauce, but this is our favorite. If you cannot find this particular brand, do not worry, just use which ever black bean sauce you can get your hands on.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

Add in the the different sauces to the wok, and fold it into the tofu meat mixture with a spatula until thoroughly coated. It is always better to add in a little at a time and have room for addition as it is easier to add than it is to take out. At this point, taste a tofu and see if the flavors are okay. If it needs more flavor, add in more black bean sauce. If not salty enough, add in some soy sauce. My family does not like the sauce as salty as my personal preference, so I will sometimes go lighter on the soy sauce. The recipe down below is the standard base, and then you will have to adjust based on your personal preference.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

Once you are satisfied with the taste, add boiling water to the mixture until it is just barely covered and allow it to come to a boil.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

Make a slurry with cornstarch and water. Slowly add in the slurry as you are stirring the mixture. The sauce will begin to thicken. Keep pouring in the cornstarch slurry until it has reached a thick, saucy but still runny consistency. Take a small spoonful of sauce to check the taste one more time and adjust if needed.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

I was able to finish making this in 38 minutes and have dinner ready at 6:58pm!

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

To serve, we have a grater peeler we use for cucumbers. We grate the cucumber directly into an ice water bath to keep it cold and crisp. When ready to serve, take the noodles and spoon on a generous helping of black bean sauce, and top if off with the grated cucumbers!  From my grandfathers kitchen, to my kitchen, and now to yours.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodles

Time: 1 hour

Oil to coat the pans (Olive, vegetable, or canola will work just fine)

2 large handfuls of Chinese dried noodles (we use Shandong dried noodles)

12-16 Five Spice tofu squares, diced into 1 centimeter cubes

1-2 Tablespoons minced garlic

1-2 Tablespoons minced ginger

1 pound ground pork

3 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp sesame oil

1/3 c black bean sauce

1/4 c sweet flour black bean sauce

Boiling water (about 3 cups)

Cornstarch slurry (1/4 c cornstarch + 3 Tbsp water)

1 cucumber

  1. Heat up a cast iron wok, 1 nonstick pan, and 1 pot filled with water to boil. If you don’t have a wok, then use a pot. When the water is boiling, add in the two handfuls of dried noodles and cook until tender. Pour the noodles through a colander, and drizzle in oil and toss to evenly coat. This will prevent them from sticking to one another. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Dice the tofu into 1 centimeter cubes. Pour in enough oil to coat the nonstick pan. Pour in the tofu and use a spatula to flip the tofu until most sides are golden brown. Don’t stir the tofu, as it will cause them to break apart, so use the spatula to flip them around. If they are sticking to the pan, pour in more oil.
  3. While the tofu is browning, make the rest of the sauce. In the wok, pour in enough oil to coat the pan. Add in the minced garlic and minced ginger. Once you can smell the fragrance of garlic, add in the ground pork. Use a spatula to break up any chunks and thoroughly cook. Use a spoon or ladle to remove any excess fat.
  4. When the pork is cooked and the tofu is browned, add the tofu into the wok and thoroughly mix. Add in the black bean sauce, sweet flour sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce and use a spatula to fold the sauces into the mixture until completely coated. Taste a tofu and adjust the flavors as needed. If not salty enough, add more soy sauce. If it is bland, add more bean or flour sauce.
  5. Add enough boiling water to the wok until it just covers the mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil.
  6. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, and slowly pour it into the sauce as you are stirring. The cornstarch will begin to thicken up the sauce. When it is a thick but still runny consistency, your sauce is ready!
  7. Grate one cucumber into an icy bath to keep it crisp. When ready to serve, spoon the sauce over the noodles and top with cucumber.

Traditional Taiwanese Black Bean Noodle

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

The marriage of bacon and maple. I’ve always seen bacon and maple donuts as well as bacon and maple cupcakes, but haven’t seen very much of them on a cookie. For work this week, we are hosting an event in which two chefs will be teaching a cooking demonstration as the audience learns and eats. The theme for the night is bacon and when I was asked to make a small treat to put into their gift bags, the first thing that came to mind were the marriage of bacon and maple.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

At first, I wanted to do a cupcake, but it would have been harder to gift wrap and put in a box as the frosting makes it more fragile. Maybe in the future I’ll come up with something bacon and cupcake related but for this, I ended up meshing the flavors of bacon and maple with my beloved chocolate chip cookie recipe that has been tried and true since I was in seventh grade. To it, I simply added chopped bacon and drizzled on a maple icing on top. While the actual taste of bacon very subtle, it adds a hint of salt and savory flavor that pairs well with the chocolate!

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

To begin, you need bacon. For this event, I had to make 160 cookies and ended up using 6 pounds of bacon. Yes, that is SIX POUNDS. But keep in mind that I double fried the bacon, rendering off as much of the fat as possible. So really, it came out to about 2-3 pounds that I actually used. The recipe that is put below is for a standard batch of 2 dozen cookies.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

The above bacon is only half of what I used. Fry up the bacon until it has a beautiful golden color on both sides and remove from the heat, draining off as much of the fat as possible.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Next, you want to get it into small pieces. You can use a knife to chop it up, but I find scissors are much sharper and faster at getting the job done.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now, we go back for the second fry. This removes any of the excess bacon fat…trust me, you’ll be surprised at how much fat will still come off the bacon meat! Once you think it has reached its peak and has removed as much fat as possible, place the bacon bits through a fine mesh strainer and drain out any of the extra oil. Place it in a bowl to cool down.

Now that you have your bacon, it’s time to make the classic chocolate chip cookies. To begin, cream together the butter and shortening. Slowly add the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar. Beat until well combined and scrape down the bowl.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Next, add in the eggs, one at a time and make sure it is fully mixed in before adding in the next! It’ll start to really get nice and fluffy at this point! Then, add in the vanilla.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

After this stage, most recipes will have you add in the dry ingredients, but lucky for you, you have come to the right place as this recipe is not like most recipes. Add in the two bags of chocolate chips. The mixer will get a little bumpy so you might want to lock it in place. I like adding in the chocolate at this point as opposed to folding it in after as it sweetens and deepens the flavor of the actual cookie as bits of chocolate get pressed into the dough. Also, adding it in now will prevent any over mixing of the batter once the flour is added in.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Beautiful. Now, sift in the dry ingredients. It’s very important to sift as it will allow your dough to not only be lump free, but to be light and airy. As soon as the dry ingredients have been mixed in, the dough is ready to be baconed up. Depending on how much you love bacon, you can either add more or less. I added two cups of bacon per batch of cookies. Just remember to save some bacon to the side so you have something to garnish the cookies with!

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fold the bacon into the dough and use an ice cream scoop to drop the cookie dough batter onto parchment paper. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Allow them to cool completely before icing them. To make the icing, simply combine the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and heavy whipping cream and whisk in a bowl until smooth and lump free. The quantities of how much whipping cream you use will vary depending on the consistency of you maple syrup. Some syrups are thicker than others, so if it is thicker, use more whipping cream. If it is a thinner consistency, use less and adjust accordingly.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Use a fork and dip it into the icing and shake it back and forth on top of the cookies. This will give it a messy but chic design. Garnish the tops with bacon bits before the icing sets!

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

An insane amount of cookies makes me dizzy just looking at it.

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon & Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 2 dozen cookies
  • Print

1 lb applewood bacon

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp

1/4 c shortening

1/3 c sugar

1 c packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp molasses

2 medium eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 c all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 c semisweet chocolate chips

Maple Icing (recipe below)

Remove the bacon from its packaging and fry until both sides are golden and crispy. Drain the pan from any bacon fat. Chop the bacon up into small pieces with either scissors or a knife. Return to the skillet and fry one more time to render off any of the fat that is still existing. Once the majority of the fat has rendered off, scoop the bacon bits into a fine mesh strainer and drain the left over oil off. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until fully combined. Slowly add in the granulated sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the brown sugar and continue to mix until fully incorporated. Add the molasses, eggs, and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix on low speed.

Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in all but 1/4 cup of the bacon, saving that portion to garnish. Using an ice cream scoop, drop the cookie dough onto parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown and slightly browned on the edges. Allow them to completely cool before transferring to a cooling rack.

Maple Icing

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

1/3 c maple syrup

1/4 c heavy whipping cream

In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, syrup, and cream until it is lump free and smooth. Depending on the thickness of both the syrup and creams, you may have to adjust the recipe as you go to get the right consistency.

Once the cookies have been baked and cooled, use a fork and dip it into the icing. Shake the fork back and forth across the top of the cookies, then garnish with the reserved 1/4 cup of bacon.

Baked Rigatoni

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Is anyone else freaking out that it’s already August? Where did July go? I don’t want school to start up again in a short three weeks! Why can’t time just stop and stay still? Reality shock aside, my grandparents are out of town and that finally give me a chance to make dinner! Most of the time, they make dinner for us so I tend to stay in the dessert zone. But after a while of eating Asian cuisine, I decided to go Italian with a Baked Rigatoni slathered in meat sauce and mozzarella.

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To begin, boil a large pot of water. Once it boils, add in the rigatoni noodles and stir occasionally. The pasta is the one that takes longest to cook. While that is going, dice and mince the onion and garlic.

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In a hot skillet, sauté with a pound of ground beef. I use the 80/20 meat to fat combination because I like the fatty juices that come out as I think it adds more flavor, but you can go with leaner meat if you prefer.

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Add the jar of Prego Traditional tomato sauce and the dried herbs. Mix until all the meat is covered, then turn the heat down to low so the flavors can meld together. Allow it to simmer until the pasta noodles are done cooking.

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As you are waiting, grate up the mozzarella cheese. You can use whichever kind you like, but I prefer the whole milk fresh mozzarella balls as it’s more bubbly when baking.

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When the noodles are done,  strain then add as many as possible into the sauce. Fold until most is covered, then transfer into a baking dish. Add the rest of the noodles and gently fold until well covered.

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Add the mozzarella cheese and don’t be shy! Gently fold in so that all the noodles get some lovin.

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Finish it off by sprinkling the top with more mozzarella. Then, cover with tin foil and bake.

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Twenty-five minutes later, you have a glorious pan of rigatoni. This can be scooped into smaller containers and then frozen for future meals or you can garnish with parsley and eat right away!

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Baked Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

serves 6

1 lb. box rigatoni

1 white onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground beef

1 jar Prego Traditional sauce

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 lb. whole milk mozzarella, shredded

rough chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)

In a large pot, boil water and cook the pasta.

In a large skillet lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil, sauté the diced onion and minced garlic over high heat. Add the ground beef and continue to cook until the beef is browned. Turn the heat down to low, add the jar of tomato sauce and dried herbs and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the pasta is finished cooking. Drain the pasta, then pour as much as possible into the large skillet. Fold the pasta in the sauce then transfer to a large baking dish. Fold in the rest of the noodles and continue to fold until completely covered. Add in the shredded cheese (reserve 1/4 c) and fold until it is evenly dispersed. Sprinkle the remaining cheese across the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

 

Beef Noodle Soup

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While I was in Taiwan, my aunt taught me how to make beef noodle soup. There are so many different versions and variations out there, but to determine if the dish is good or not, there are two things you want to look at: the beef, and the broth. Is the flavor there? The color and the depth? Is it salty with flavor to a certain point where you can drink it without parching yourself? As for the beef, is quality meat used? Is the right kind of meat used where when it is cooked, it almost falls apart as you eat it? Is there too much fat attached to each portion? Is there too little fat? Many restaurant that serve this soup may achieve the broth but often lack in the quality or type of beef, making it tough to eat. However, I have sought out to make my aunt’s version of beef noodle soup. Granted, I have tried my best to copy her version but is a little bit of a challenge. You see, the recipe she gave me had ingredients on it but no measurement. I asked her how do I know how much of each to put in, and she proceeded to take out a kitchen bowl and gave me estimates on “about 50% full” or “60% of this bowl.” With that knowledge, I have come as close to her version of beef noodle soup as possible.

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First, prepare all of your veggies. You only need to give them a rough chop, as you won’t be eating them– they are just to flavor the broth. Place them into a bowl and set aside. You want to have this ready to use for later.

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Chop the meat up into large chunks (the meat will shrink in size as it cooks). If there are any hard pieces of tendon, remove it. Heat a large skillet and very lightly drizzle with oil. Once the pan is hot, drop the pieces of meat in to sear. At this point, you only want the outside of each chink to be cooked.

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After almost all the sides have been seared, dump the vegetables on top and toss it around.

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After a few minutes, the tomatoes will begin to blister, the onions start to caramelize, the garlic start to fume, and the green onions begin to wilt. Juices will begin to form and pool at the bottom of the pan.

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Once all of the tomatoes have blistered and juices start to coat the bottom of the pan, you can deglaze the pan with rice wine, followed by the bean paste and soy sauce.

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Then, add in enough hot water (make sure it is hot) into the pan until just covered. Boil on high for 5 minutes.

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Transfer the entire pan into a tin fitted for a rice cooker. I am using a 10 cup tin. Because there is not enough soup to cover the entire tin, I then add hot water into the emptied pan and bring it to a boil. As I wait, I clean off the sides to get any last bit of flavor into the broth. The color of the soup in the above photo is simply from deglazing the sides and bottom of the pan.

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Once it boils, I add that broth into the tin (see how clean the pan is?) The tin should be about 80% full. To stew the meat, there are three stages. The first two are the same: add 3 cups of water into the steamer and cook until the steamer says it’s ready. Repeat for stage two. After two rounds in the steamer, the broth and meat should be ready. The flavors are there and the meat should be soft enough for you to eat. However, I like my meat really soft to a point where it will almost fall apart when you eat it.

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To get it to that stage, I transfer the whole thing into a high pressure cooker and cook for an additional 35 minutes. Again, this stage is optional.

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While the high pressure cooker is finishing the soup, I get everything else ready. I like to use flat noodles as they can easily soak up the flavor of the broth.

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Boil some veggies to go along with the soup! I am using baby bok choy.

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Slice up some scallions. Cilantro and chopped pickled mustard are also popular condiments, but I didn’t have any on hand. Once the broth is ready, it’s time to assemble! Pile on the noodles, bok choy, scallions, broth and meat, and you are ready to eat!

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Beef Noodle Soup

vegetable oil

1 white onion, rough chop

4-5 ripe tomatoes, rough chop

4-5 ginger slices

5 garlic cloves, rough chop, optional

3 green onions, rough chop

1.5 pound beef shank, chopped into large pieces

1/2 c rice wine

1/2 c broad bean paste

1/3 c soy sauce

pot of boiling water

Have all the vegetables and beef chopped and ready to go. In a large heavy bottomed pan, lightly coat with oil. Wait for it to get hot, then add the meat and sear the sides of each chunk. Once the majority has been seared, add the veggies. Allow the tomatoes to blister and juices to come out. Continue to sauté until the tomatoes begin to break down and its juice begins to coat the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes on high heat. Turn the heat down to a medium, allow it to simmer for about two minutes, then add the rice wine, bean paste, and soy sauce. Turn the heat back to high and bring it to a boil. Add the boiling water into the pan to just cover, and bring it back to another boil.

Transfer everything into a tin fitted for a steamer. You need enough soup to cover the meat, so if you need more, pour more boiling water into the original pan to deglaze, bring it to a boil, then pour it into the tin. Don’t worry about adding too much water as more flavor will continue to stew. Add 3 cups into the steamer, add the tin of soup in, and cook until it says it is ready. Add 3 more cups into the steamer and cook once more and the soup is ready.

If you want the meat extra soft and tender, proceed to pour the broth and all its contents into a high pressure cooker and cook for 35 more minutes. As this is going, prepare the noodles, baby bok choy, scallions, cilantro, pickled mustard, anything you wish! Once the broth is ready, pick out the meat and broth to serve. It is usual for the broth to be very thick and concentrated, so add hot water to even it out, and enjoy!

Ham and Cheese Sandwich

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My parents and grandparents have always told me of how well I like to treat myself. I often go the extra length to cut mangos (which they see as a hassle) or make fruit smoothies or spend time juicing oranges or apples and carrots. So yes, I do like to eat good food and it does not hurt one bit.

For lunch today, I decided to treat myself to a ham and cheese sandwich. It’s not the typical oscar mayer ham and kraft cheddar cheese kind of sandwich. Rather, I am talking about the thinly sliced honey maple ham and grated emmental cheese with chives smashed in between two slices of french loaf bread that has been brushed with olive oil and lightly smeared with garlic, kind of sandwich.

I was finally able to make a trip to the nearest Whole Foods Market here, all the way in Huntington Beach. I have been so spoiled by the Whole Foods back at home, only 10 min away and is absolutely ginormous. It used to be a car dealership and they turned it into goodness. I have always been a fan of their products and always leave happy!

I bought ham, cheese, and bread, and for such quality good ingredients, the breakdown of cost is not bad at all. I asked for eight slices of ham to be sliced at their thinnest setting, and the smallest chunk of emmantal cheese I could find. The ham was $1.65 and the cheese was $5.60, but I still have half of the cheese wedge left to be used (so let’s just say $2.80?). The loaf of organic french bread was $2.99 but I only used 4 slices out of the 8 ($1.50). The chives I already had and only used two tablespoons of them chopped and one clove of garlic. So if you ask me, I spoiled myself with an amazing lunch for $5.95. Cheaper than Panera and uses good quality ingredients.

Do I know how to spoil myself? Yes I do, and I enjoy every bite doing so.

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Honey Ham and Emmental Cheese Panini

makes two sandwiches

4 slices of french loaf bread

1 c grated emmental cheese

2 Tbsp chives

1 garlic clove

olive oil

Heat a medium skillet on medium high heat.

Brush one side of each bread slice completely with olive oil. Slice the garlic clove in half and using the open cut side, rub it against the oil on bread until the bread faintly smells of garlic. This is optional but the subtle garlic adds to the flavor in each bite. With the garlic oil side down, take 1/4 c cheese and spread it around. Sprinkle some chives on, then layer 3 slices of ham. Cover the ham in another 1/4 c cheese and chives. Place the bread slice on top, oil side up. Repeat with the other two slices of bread.

Place the two sandwiches on the skillet and place a cast iron pan directly on top of the breads to weigh them down. Once the first side is golden, flip and place the cast iron pan back on top. Once the other side is golden brown, they are done. Slice each sandwich in half and enjoy!

Pesto Prosciutto Arugula Pizza

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For today’s lunch, I wanted to make a…healthy kind of pizza. I’ve seen a whole bunch of places where they have the pizza crust and then what looks like a whole salad on top of it, making it a pretty smart way to get your veggies in for the day. I mean, there may be veggies on it but who doesn’t love pizza?

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With that, I chose to make the classic combination of prosciutto and arugula. If there is anything I love as much as smoked salmon, it is prosciutto. There’s just something about that dry, salted, curing magic that happens in the process which makes them both so addicting. The saltiness of the prosciutto plus the pepper tasting flavor that comes from the arugula come hand in hand when dressing a pizza.

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Yet before any dressing can happen, we start with the dough. This dough is probably the easiest and most fool proof pizza dough recipe you can get. The longer you let it proof, the more flavor that gets into the dough. I was able to make it ahead enough where the yeast created this beautiful risen dough over the course of two days. It would have been even better if I made this tomorrow, but I can’t wait any longer. The outcome came out to a gorgeous crispy yet bready crust to accompany the toppings.

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Pesto Prosciutto Arugula Pizza

adapted from Ree Drummond, Food Network

Basic Pizza Dough

makes 2 pizzas

1/2 tsp yeast

3/4 c warm water

2 c all purpose flour

pinch salt

scant 1/4 cup olive oil

Lightly grease a medium bowl with olive oil and set aside. Sprinkle yeast over water and set aside. In a mixer with a dough hook, mix the flour and salt. Drizzle in olive oil. Pour in the yeast mixture and continue to knead until all flour is incorporated into a ball, the dough will be moist. Turn it into the greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise for at least one hour, but it is best at least 24 hours in advance. The longer the better.

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Toppings

1/4 c pesto

1/2 c whole milk fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

pepper

4 slices prosciutto

1 1/2 c arugula

shaved parmesan

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, set it inside the oven as well so it can preheat.

Roll out prepared pizza dough onto a floured surface to be as thin as possible. Transfer onto the baking sheet. Spread a very thin layer of the pesto over the top, excluding the crust area. Do not overboard on the pesto, only a thin layer is needed. Layer on the mozzarella and sprinkle top with pepper. Slide baking pan into the oven or pizza dough onto pizza stone and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Remove and top with arugula, prosciutto, and shaved parmesan.

Chicken Noodle Soup// Cooking in Li

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Once again, college has begun again! This year, my friends and I moved into an on-campus apartment building with two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and a living room! So blessed with the amount of new space we have to call our own for the next two semesters to come!

With a new apartment life, comes new responsibilities. One of the biggest is learning how to cook for ourselves. Before, we all ate in the on-campus cafeteria, or we would all eat out. By sophomore year, most, if not all of us, were done-goodbye-only-coming-here-if-absolutely-needed-farewell cafeteria food. Not that it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t our taste pallet. Yet, after the first two days of living in the apartment and eating out for almost every meal, we knew that our wallets weren’t going to be able to keep up with our stomaches.

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So, for the next few days, the next few weeks, and the next few months, our apartment will be cooking, experimenting, and finding out what it is to cook delicious food on a budget to feed a small crowd of hungry college students.

Starting with my chicken noodle soup. I’ve shared my chicken noodle soup recipe in a past post which can be found here. I made the soup because not only is the total for ingredients is around $10, but you can actually take the soup, separate them into individual tupperware and freeze it for future use. It’s completely healthy and completely affordable!

Hopefully, we can use this year to be able to start eating healthy again and to be more conscious as to what goes into our bodies. Cheers to junior year!

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