Sunday, August 30, 2015

Asiago Cheese Bread

This bread is the bomb! It's a light yet absolutely cheesy loaf with hints of oregano and thyme that pair perfectly with the decadent asiago. The combination of eggs and yeast help to give it an amazing texture, and shredded cheese is incorporated throughout the dough. (Or is it batter since it is kind of runny and has eggs?)

Once you try it there is no going back to your pre-cheese bread days. You will be an immediate convert. Maybe this recipe should be accompanied by a warning label.....


Asiago Cheese Bread
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasonings
8 ounces asiago cheese, grated
4 eggs or 6 egg whites

Combine the yeast and warm water. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes until the yeast is activated. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings into the yeast. Add the cheese and eggs. Stir the mixture vigorously for 5 minutes. Cover the batter and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and oil a large bread pan. Pour the batter into the pan and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes while the oven is preheating. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bread to sit for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

You can't say I didn't warn you. :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flying Butterfly Card

I just love this fun birthday card. The butterflies look like they are practically about to fly off the page. I also love my new(er) stamp that says "May your birthday be as special as you are!" How sweet!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Let's Try Some Chayote

French Guiana is actually officially called Guiana, but since it is an overseas territory of France, we call it French Guiana. The origin of the "French" in front of it dates back to colonial times when the Spanish, British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese all had their own territories named Guiana. (Between Guinea and Guiana you would think that there wasn't another name on earth. I know I talk about this in pretty much every post, but it drives me crazy! I need some originality here, people.) It's the largest overseas department of France and has the coolest capital city name ever: Cayenne (like the chili!). There is a lot of immigration to French Guiana. Only a little over half of its population actually was born in the territory. The majority emigrated from Brazil, Haiti, and Suriname.

Curries, seafood, and one-pot meals make up a lot of the French Guianese cuisine. Since it is on the northern coast of South America, you can imagine why seafood plays such a vital role. There is also a lot of influence from French, creole, and Asian cuisines. Because of the high rate of immigration, many people groups have brought their own cuisines to the territory to make it a big melting pot.

Chayote is a cool Mesoamerican fruit that is related to melons and squash. Before tonight, I had never tried it before. I saw it at Kroger the other day and jumped on the opportunity to use it for one of my countries. These potato-cakes showcase the exotic fruit and make a great side.

Chayote-Potato Cakes
1 chayote, grated
1 potato, grated
1 small yellow onion, grated
1 egg
¼ cup cornmeal
dash of cayenne pepper powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp oil

Squeeze any excess moisture out of the chayote, potato, and onion. Mix them together with the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Preheat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp of the oil. Scoop out a few tablespoons of the potato mixture at a time onto the pan. Cook each side for a couple of minutes until browned. Remove the cakes to a paper towel lined plate. Cook the rest of the potato mixture in batches, adding more oil as needed.


 Poulet Colombo is a warm and hearty stew that is common in the French West Indies and French Guiana. It is made out of local produce, chicken, and an interesting spice blend called Colombo that contains toasted rice along with several other delicious spices. This stew is easy to make and goes great with some rice to cut the heat of the chili pepper.

Poulet Colombo
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scotch bonnet chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 ½ tbsp Colombo spices
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups chicken broth or water
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
1 chayote, cubed
1 eggplant, cubed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and chili. Cook until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile mix the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice as well as salt and pepper to taste. Add them to the pan and cook until the pieces are browned all over. Pour in the water or broth, seasonings, and remaining lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables to the pot and continue to cook for another 45 minutes. Once the stew is done, stir in the coconut milk and serve.

Although I did enjoy trying chayote for the first time and will definitely use it in the future (assuming that I can find it in the future), I don't think I will be making either of these recipes again. They were not bad, but that oomph that African dishes seem to have about them was not present. I should have used chicken broth instead of water in the Poulet Colombo recipe, but I was being cheap and lazy. There would have been a little more flavor if I had used broth instead. The chayote-potato cakes were good, but I have made better ones in the past. I'm also not so certain about the recipe's authenticity. It was really hard to find information on the cuisine of French Guiana. Hopefully I can travel there one day to try it out myself.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Quiche to Beat all Mondays

Tomorrow is a Monday. Every college student knows that there is nothing worse than Monday mornings, especially the first Monday of the semester. (We had last Monday off and started classes on Tuesday.) Today I have a recipe that will make you want to wake up tomorrow morning. Don't believe me?

Now do you believe me? Just wait until you hear what this amazing creation is. It was my special (and delicious) concoction to battle those dreary Monday mornings. It's the best bacon and bell pepper yogurt-crusted quiche you will ever lay eyes on.

 Of course, if you aren't in the mood to make a quiche tonight, it is equally as delicious on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning. And it is absolutely heavenly on a lazy Saturday morning.

 But why wait when you can have a scrumptious quiche to look forward to before work or class tomorrow? Scroll down to see the recipe and try it out for yourself!

Bacon and Bell Pepper Yogurt Crusted Quiche
For the filling:
4 slices thick bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 tsp herbs de provence
6 egg whites or 4 whole eggs
¾ cup milk
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
2 ounces grated provolone cheese
2 ounces grated fontina cheese
2 ounces grated romano cheese
2 ounces grated parmesan cheese

For the crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup white cornmeal
¾ cup plain yogurt
½ tsp salt

To make the crust, mix the cornmeal, flour, and salt together. Add in the yogurt and knead until a soft dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and oil a tart or pie pan. Whisk together the milk, eggs, and herbs. In a separate bowl, combine the cheeses. Mix all but ½ cup of the cheese mixture into the eggs along with the green onions, bacon, and bell pepper.

Roll out your crust on a lightly floured surface. Press it into the prepared pan and prick the bottom a couple of times with a fork. Pour the filling evenly into the crust and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the egg has set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the quiche come to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cheese Lovers Anonymous

I admit it. I am a cheese addict. It's not long before the CLA (Cheese Lovers Anonymous) comes knocking on my door. (It will probably be right after I get a call from Peanut Butter-aholics Anonymous and Oatmeal Fanatics Anonymous.) Honestly at any given time I usually have at least 5 types of cheese in my fridge. My most recent obsession has been Havarti cheese. I love to make it into a quick and simple cheese sauce to mix with spinach and serve over pasta. Are you ready for this amazingness? I hope I don't send anyone out there into a cheese relapse with my delicious recipe for Creamy Havarti Pasta with Spinach. Enjoy!!

Creamy Havarti Pasta with Spinach
8 ounces spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente
1- 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 ounces shredded Havarti cheese
1 ¾ cups milk
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the milk over medium low heat in a large saucepan. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes. Make sure the milk does not boil but simmers lightly. Once thickened, add the cheese, stir to melt, and then remove the saucepan from the stovetop. Evenly toss the pasta and spinach with the sauce and serve.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fried Rice!!

Fried rice is the quintessential quick meal that you can throw together when it's time to clean out the fridge. Leftover rice, chicken, and veggies that may look like they are about to turn are generally not very appealing, but you can make practically anything taste great when you transform it into the beautiful creation that is fried rice. If you don't have leftovers and want to make everything fresh, that's great too. Just make sure your rice is nice and cool before you attempt to fry it up. I just used broccoli, carrots, and green beans, but feel free to mix up the veggies to create your own personalized touch. Snow peas, zucchini, mushrooms, and bean sprouts all go great with fried rice.

Chicken and Egg Fried Rice
serves 2
½ cup dry brown rice
½ cup frozen broccoli florets
½ cup frozen green beans
3 eggs
1 tbsp + ½ tsp oil
1 chicken breast
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup diced onion
1-2 tbsp soy sauce (to your own taste)

Bring the rice and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 40 minutes, or until all the water has absorbed. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Stir in ½ tsp oil, the broccoli, and green beans. Allow it to cool and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Preheat your broiler. On a broiler safe pan, cook the chicken breast for 10- 15 minutes, or until it is cooked through, turning over after about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot, and cook for 5 minutes. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and pour them into the pan. Cook until they have set and then scramble them up. Pour in the rice and remaining veggies along with the soy sauce. Cut the chicken into chunks and add it in to. Heat the rice through, stirring often for about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lollipop Cards!

I saw this cool lollipop made out of twine on pinterest and I just had to make a card out of it. It was super simple. All you do is cut out a circle and brush it with liquid glue. Starting at the center slowly wind the twine around the circle until you get to the edge. Cut off the loose ends, stick on a popsicle stick, and glue it onto a card. The end product is a fun and colorful lollipop that jumps out of the card to greet you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Meal Full of Hope

You probably expect me to begin my post about Rwanda talking about the atrocities committed during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. That’s what Rwanda is famous for after all, right? Well, the genocide happened over 20 years ago (I wasn’t even born yet.) and a lot of things have changed since then. I’m not trying to downplay the sadness and horror that the genocide brought to the country nor am I trying to say that we should totally forget about it. I’m advocating for us to quit focusing on the past and look towards a hopeful future of reconciliation and forgiveness. A friend of mine that goes to my university is from Rwanda. He had a speaker come over last year to talk to us about the genocide. All the problems and hatred are far from eradicated but there is reason for hope. There are programs being set up to ease the tension between the Hutu and Tutsi. The speaker talked about one such program that had repentant Hutu men rebuilding the houses of their victims’ remaining family members. According to the speaker, Rwanda is a super safe country now. Policemen are everywhere and you can walk along the streets at any hour without fear. He said most of the crime was petty theft. Maybe after such a traumatic past all the people want is peace. I hope that the situation in Rwanda continues to improve. Ethnic tension is a problem that every country with a minority population on earth can relate to. It’s sad and wrong, but we can only hope to shed out prejudice and accept all people as children of God.



Rwandan cuisine is based upon the staples that this highly agrarian society produces. Plantains, beans, legumes, cassava, and sweet potatoes make up the bulk of Rwandan dishes and meat is an uncommon luxury. I chose to cook a popular cassava leaf stew called isombe along with a dish of legumes and bananas. The recipes both represented the staples of Rwanda and proved to be a simple and delicious vegetarian meal. (After Macau I really needed something a bit lighter and less beefy and Rwanda proved to be just that.)
Served along with some freshly cooked ugali, isombe makes for a great vegetarian meal. It’s a type of vegetable stew with leafy greens, eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, and green onions that is rounded out with the flavorful addition of red palm oil and peanuts. (Because the Africans love their peanuts and I do too!) Traditionally the stew is made with cassava leaves, but since those are almost impossible to get ahold of in the States, kale is a fine substitute. Isombe originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but then spread to Rwanda where it has became a national favorite.

1 bunch kale, chopped (traditionally cassava leaves are used)
1 eggplant, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch spinach, chopped
2 tbsp peanut flour or peanut butter
2 tbsp red palm oil

Cover the kale with water in a large pot and bring it to a boil with some salt. Cook until the kale is tender, about 25 minutes. Add in the remaining vegetables and cook for another 15 minutes until they are falling apart and almost all of the water has evaporated. (Add a little extra water if it becomes too dry.) Mix the red palm oil and peanut butter/ flour together and stir it into the vegetables. Remove the isombe from the heat and serve.


I’m not really sure about the Rwandan name for this dish of boiled bananas and split peas mixed with fried onions and red palm oil, but I found it on several Rwandan recipe sites, so it seemed promising.

Bananas and Split Peas
1 cup split green peas, soaked overnight and drained
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp red palm oil
2 bananas

Cover the split peas in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Add more water to the pot if necessary to prevent the peas from burning and lay the whole peeled bananas on top. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the red palm oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Once the bananas are done, add them to the skillet along with the drained split peas. Fully mix everything together and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Remove the skillet from the heat, season to taste, and serve.

 Isombe: Rwandan Vegetable Stew


Isombe seemed like the perfect recipe the moment I laid eyes on it. I was initially a little concerned with the thought of mixing boiled bananas with peas and fried onions to make the second dish, but as always my fears were unfounded. It was delicious, a little weird, but delicious nonetheless. I hope you enjoy my little venture to Rwanda!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Peanut Butter Banana Cinnamon Masa Harina Pancakes

Because buttermilk masa harina pancakes, parmesan spinach pancakes, and banana bread masa harina pancakes just don't cover all the amazing possibilities of masa harina incorporated into pancake mix, I just had to try making a peanut butter version. It did not disappoint! The pancakes are as thick and fluffy as ever with an extra boost of delicious peanut butter flavor. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Banana Cinnamon Masa Harina Pancakes
makes 18
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup masa harina
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp. sugar
2 cups buttermilk
½ cup peanut butter
2 tbsp. oil
3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs

Mix together the flour, masa, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until there are no more lumps. Spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat it over medium heat. Once the oil sizzles, pour 1/4 cup of the batter at a time into the skillet. Cook each side for about a minute, until golden brown.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Very HAPPY Birthday Cards

If you need a quick and colorful birthday card look no further than this simple yet appealing idea. I used multicolored punch out letters to spell out "HAPPY", stamped on birthday, rounded the bottom edges, and was rewarded with a stack of cards ready to be mailed to the next lucky birthday boy/girl. Enjoy the idea and have fun crafting!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mincing in Macau

Like Hong Kong, Macau is a special administrative region of China. I found out today that unlike Hong Kong, it is not well known. (When I told my mom I cooked Macanese food, she asked where in the world Macau is.) Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Macau was historically a Portuguese colony while Hong Kong was under the British Empire. As Americans I have found that we tend to know more about places that speak our own language, but that's just my theory. Anyway, Macau fully transferred from Portuguese to Chinese control in 1999 after 400 years of Portuguese settlement. Macau was granted a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after the transfer. Because of this autonomy, I saw Macau as a fit candidate to be one of the countries I cooked. After all, the culture is a lot different from mainland China's because of all the Portuguese influence and they have "full autonomy and self-governance in domestic affairs, economic policy and internal security"(Wikipedia). They are even exempt from China's socialist system and elect their own Chief Executive. Their currency is called the pataca. Another cool fact about Macau is that it is the most densely populated region in the entire world. The 11.6 square miles that make up Macau contain 640,000 people. That's over 55,000 people per square mile! Macau's population has soared in the past years as a result of immigration from mainland China. Ironically Macau has one of the lowest birthrates in the world Only 42.5% of the residents of Macau were actually born in Macau.

The cuisine of Macau is a blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cooking traditions. The Portuguese brought ingredients from their colonies in Africa and Southeast Asia like coconut milk, curry, and spices that were integrated into Chinese cooking methods. Famous dishes are the egg tart, Portuguese chicken, African chicken, minchee, pork buns, and caldo verde. I chose to make the popular minchee dish because it was unique and totally Macanese. The word "minchee" is probably a derivative from the English word "mince" because the meat in the dish is all minced up.

serves 3-4
1 pound ground beef, ground pork, or a mixture of the two
1 bay leaf
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
3 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 eggs

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the potatoes and cook until browned all over, flipping once the bottoms are browned. Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the bay leaf, onion, and garlic and cook until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Mix in the ground meat, chopping to separate it all up. Once there are no big chunks of meat, pour in the soy sauce and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the heat to high and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporate. At the last minute, stir in the potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Fry the eggs one at a time, adding another teaspoon of oil each time. Cook until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Serve the minchee over rice and topped with the fried eggs.

What can I say? Macau was a pleasantly delicious experience and made for a delicious lunch. It was a bit greasy, though, so I definitely advise serving it alongside some rice to help with digesting. Fried potatoes with ground beef/pork and a fried egg is definitely not a meal I would want to have every day for my arteries' sake, but it sure was delicious. Two thumbs up for Macau and minchee!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

No Bake Cookie Dough Balls!

If you're like me, you get those cookie dough cravings in the dead of the summer when it's way too hot to heat up your house with the oven. Thankfully you can now save your energy bill and the sweat (literally and figuratively) of baking a bunch of cookies. Just whip up this cookie dough, scoop it out, and enjoy. If you're feeling super lazy and don't even want to make balls, you can just eat the dough straight out of your mixing bowl. Don't worry, I will not judge.

Because who likes baked cookies anyway? The best part is eating the raw dough!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls
makes 60 small cookie dough balls
1 ½ cups rolled oats (I used quick oats.)
6 ounces raw cashews, soaked in water overnight and drained
½ cup coconut flour
1 cup applesauce
½ cup milk
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

Blend the cashews into a paste in a high powered blender. Combine all the ingredients and stir until well mixed. Roll one tablespoon at a time into little balls and arrange ½” apart on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In Memory of Some Delicious Paella

I am glad to be back in the US with my friends and family, but I sure do miss Spain. Tonight's post is in memory of the delicious paella I was able to cook during my time there. I made seafood paella back when I cooked Spain for my Meals Around the World Project, and I wanted to try another variety. Originally paella was made using meats and then later on seafood was added into the mix. Paella mixta, or mixed paella is a delicious combination of delicious fresh seafood along with tender chicken and my new favorite meat, rabbit. Enjoy!

Paella Mixta
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Spanish paprika
pinch of saffron
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup rice (preferably bomba or calasparra)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups water or broth
2 red bell peppers, pitted and diced
1 banana pepper, pitted and diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 ounces prawns
4 ounces squid, beaks and innards removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
4 ounces fish fillets, cubed
4 ounces squid rings
4 ounces mussels
4 ounces clams (I used hard clams and langostillas)
½ cup green peas
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing for about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and peppers. Cook for another 5 minutes. Pour in the broth, chicken, rabbit, and seasonings. Mix everything together and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes. Add the rice, fish, squid and clams. Cook until the rice is done and all the moisture has been absorbed. Add the prawns, mussels, and peas. Cook for another 5 minutes until the seafood is cooked through. (The mussels will open up.) Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Miracle Called Streusel

Today was one of those days that called for a muffin breakfast. I slept in a little later than I had expected, it was rainy and dreary out, and I had the apartment to myself. My plans for today were to work on a paper, a project, and study for the GREs, so I needed some good nourishment before I got to work. This single serving streusel muffin fit the bill. I don't know what's better- streusel or muffins. It doesn't really matter because this recipe lets you have both!

Single Serving Cinnamon Streusel Muffin
For the muffin:
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp oil
1 egg yolk

For the streusel topping:
1 tbsp quick rolled oats
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp butter
½ tbsp. all-purpose flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and oil one hole of a muffin pan. Combine the streusel ingredients and mix until it has a crumbly consistency. Stir together the dry muffin ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, milk, and egg yolk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin hole and top with the streusel. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the muffin to sit for a few minutes before removing from the pan.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

All Moved In

I'm now officially back not only to the USA, but also to school. I moved into my new apartment yesterday and was able to go to my church this morning. (I have missed it a lot.) Now that I am back into the routine of things I will be able to post as many posts as normal and get cooking some new countries. (I have Macau planned for this week.) Today I want to share another card idea. I've been working to pick up my card making business since I got back and have some new ideas/designs.

For this congratulatory card I decided to play around with geometric shapes a bit. Hexagons were my shape of choice, and I think they made a great backdrop to my sentiment.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back Again

I'm home from my amazing trip to Spain. It went by way too fast and I can't believe it is already over. I am glad to be back for a few days before I go back to school so that I can spend some time with my family. Harper and I had an eventful day today. I drove her around in my new car (thanks mom and dad!), took her to the park to ride her bike, crafted some cards with her, and now we are going to have a sleepover in the basement. I've missed my craft time with Harper and am glad we finally have some time together.

Here are some cards I made for my grandma. She clogs all the time and requested some clogging themed cards to send to her teammates. I used the ever popular "keep calm and....on" phrase to make a set of clogging cards.