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30 November 2013

Broccoli & Bacon Quiche



My thoughts and prayers to any of you or your family that was affected by Typhoon Haiyan. My heart melts in sadness for those affected by this tragic event that has resulted in so much loss of life. Please know that I will be keeping you all in my thoughts.

I also wanted to say Happy (delayed) Veterans Day. I am so thankful for the past and current service members who dedicate and put their lives at risk for the rest of us to spend our lives pursuing our dreams. To wake up and go to sleep in peace, to spend our weekends with our families and to be happy. There is no Thank-you Card for that. And a day of honor is not nearly enough to be sufficient. But I thank you all from the depth of my heart to allow someone, from an immigrant family to live in this country, marry the man of my dreams from a different background, pursue higher education and be happy.

I have been feeling much better :) The hubby and I are dog sitting, so Ninja has a playmate this week. He is  large Ridgeback that is as sweet as can be with a great temperament like Ninja. But because he is so tall and loves food (who doesn't, right?), cooking and baking has been harder, since he can easily swipe things off the counter and table (unlike the much shorter Ninja) -- so I have been MacGyver and made these home-fashioned food barriers..hahahaha.

Also, in preparation for my sister and cousin visiting for Thanksgiving, the hubby and I have done some re-decorating. I inherited most of our furniture from my dad. Well, I finally got to pick out a new (large) dining table (which is awesome because I need the space to bake/cook on since my kitchen is tiny -- if you saw a picture of it, you would be in shock), a new coffee table and TV stand :) Both the coffee table and TV stand have lots of shelves, because we could definitely use the storage. I LOVE our new furniture! I'll post pictures when everything is built :)

I have made quiche before (Spinach, Mushroom & Ham Quiche). It made me feel quite fancy :) It is funny, because up until that recipe, I had never made or tried quiche. It just sounded really cool and I wanted to try something new. Since then, I have been hooked. I have a little confession. Kroger, a grocery chain, that is located right by me sells quiche. I am addicted to their ham and onion quiche. In one sitting I can eat an entire quiche. Well, after two quiches down, I decided to give the hubby a break from my midnight quiche run requests;) and make one myself! This time, I took the easy route. Instead of making my own crust, I bought those rolled pie crusts you can purchase in the refrigerated section. I know right?! But sometimes it is just so much easier and comes out just as yummy! Gotta take you breaks when you can. Plus in all fairness, I made a crust from scratch last time (let's keep this as my dirty little secret ;) And do you know what I realized. Quiches are absurdly easy to make! I love it (hahaha...I love all easy meals). It was so good that I made this two nights in a row! And the hubby and I gobbled it down.







BROCCOLI & BACON QUICHE
Adapted from PBS Foods
INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

1 (9' inch) boxed, refrigerated pie crust (or homemade pie crust)
4 strips of bacon
1 1/2 c. chopped broccoli
1 c. shredded yellow cheese
6 eggs
1 1/4 c. heavy cream (or milk)
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. diced green onions 
Pinch of salt and pepper

*Optional: 1 tsp. crushed red pepper and a pinch of paprika

DIRECTIONS

In a greased pie pan, roll out pie crust. Using a fork, pierce the pie crust. Cover center with aluminum foil and add pie weights. Bake for 15-20 minute until crust is golden brown and slightly under baked. Remove from oven and set aside.

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until strips are crisp. Chop bacon into pieces and set aside. Without draining the fat in the skillet, place chopped broccoli into the skillet. Satue until broccoli is tender and fragrant. Evenly spread broccoli and bacon in the semi-baked pie crust. Top with shredded cheese.

In a medium bowl, prepare custard by whisking together eggs, milk, garlic powder, diced onions, salt and pepper. Pour custard into the pie shell and bake for 45-60 minutes. The quiche is cooked when no liquid custard remains and only jiggles slightly in the middle when moved. Allow to completely cool.

Enjoy,
Chika

23 November 2013

Mr. Goodbar Pudding Cookies



I never saw myself as a "blogger" and I still kinda don't. I saw myself as this dork who ventured into a world so out of her comfort zone. But it was a process -- a process that has helped me grow, learn more about myself and become more me (or "centered"). Now before you close this tab convinced that I have become a hippie, let me finish. For the Love of Dessert is my peace. I had a mentor who taught me the importance of quality of life and how so much of your professional life can hinge on the happiness of your personal life (and vice versa). I have used this outlet as my diary to share my inner most thoughts and feelings, my life events and my passions.  I think I would not be as happy as I am, if I never made that bold step to start this blog ;)

And so I want to be open about why I was so sad. Last October, I submitted an NIDA grant. To my surprise -- I got scored! Although it got scored, it was not funded. So I resubmitted (you only get one resubmission). Well I got the feedback on Tuesday and this time....I did not get scored?!?! Meaning I did worse! All I remembered was this incredible sinking feeling, being so confused and flabbergasted that my nightmare (not my dream) came true?!?! I felt so disappointed in myself. To think of all those hours ... my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations that this grant held for me ...just thrown away....that I  just was not good enough....broke me down. And I just cried...and cried. But in my withdrawn time, I have decided a few a things. I refuse to let my professional life, define who I am. I want -- me -- and not what I do, to be who I am. And I refuse to just give up and be defeated -- but that just like everything, this has been a process for me, one in which I still need time to mend my feelings.

But with all sad moments, some cheer is needed. And what better way to cheer me up than chocolate! CHOCOLATE! Well, one of the candy bars that I stocked up on during my after-Halloween hoarding spree was Mr. Goodbar. I love Mr. Goodbars. I mean they are so GOOD. I used to buy those Hershey miniature bags just so I could eat the Mr. Goodbars. I am guessing, there were a lot of other people like me, because you can now buy a large Mr. Goodbar (like those large Hershey bars) or fun size Mr. Goodbar bags of chocolate! Absolutely perfect. I thought what better way to incorporate one of my favorite chocolates, than to put it in a pudding cookie! I know, I know, I just made Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies. But they were such a big hit, that I thought I'd keep with the pudding cookie theme, because I love them! It was delicious! A soft peanut-butter pudding cookie with Mr. Goodbar chocolate chunks?!? Yes, PLEASE :) It was oh, so wonderful! And just what I needed.








MR. GOODBAR PUDDING COOKIES 
A For the Love of Dessert Original Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 (3.4-3.56 oz) vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter 
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. honey (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla
10.35 oz. bag of fun size Mr. Goodbars (broken into pieces)

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and vanilla pudding mix. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugars on medium-high until light a fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Then add in eggs, one a time, scraping down bowl after each addition; followed by honey and vanilla. Once wet ingredients have been combined, reduce to low speed and add in dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Fold in Mr. Goodbar chunks.

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 1/2-2 inch, cookie dough balls onto sheet (roll between the palm of your hands for a nice round shape). Space the cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the cookies using the palm of your hand. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Enjoy,
Chika

16 November 2013

Spicy Chicken Poblano Ristto



Happy Friday! That one day of the week where you get to work with a sigh and a smile, because you just know what is coming up. Two days of blissful freedom from the tangled web of work we weave ;) hahaha..unless your everyone -- who has children, a second job or are in grad school and the weekend just provides the solace of being grumpy at home! Just kidding (kinda). I am convinced, with an emphasis on CONVINCED that November is just not my month. Don't get me wrong, I can handle a major thing going wrong and even a few little things here and there. But when those little things happen continuously, and at all the wrong times....I just wanna regress and build a fort in my master bedroom and refuse to come out. So why I am I so sure, well last year at this time, I found out Ninja tore is ACL and had a luxating patella. This year, my academic woes seems to be insurmountable. And that fort....its looking pretty good! I mean when a hurricane, tsunami or earthquake are coming we take cover right? ;) I know, I'm special...in all the weird ways...

Moments and days like that, convince me (you know...CONVINCE) me that being a stay-at-home wife is my calling. I love all things domestic. Especially being in the kitchen, cleaning and care-taking. My sister says I put women back 50 years. That is totally not my intention. I am all for liberation and awesomeness. But I also know, that there are different strokes for different folks. Different things that float one's boat. And different things that inspire us and make us happy. I am married to a hubby who would not mind either way. He's absurdly supportive...or maybe remarkably indifferent? hahaha...But I find such comfort in my home, and just love being in the kitchen. So I have always been good at school. I am not saying I do not love it. I love academia, research and working with children. Amazing life experiences. Am I convinced this is my true calling, not sure. But who says a PhD cannot be at a stay-at-home wifey...or a rogue rebel baker?

I have been craving all thing that I have made before. And this time, my taste buds wanted risotto. Which I have made before (Mushroom Risotto and Cajun Sausage Risotto). But this time, I wanted something spicy. I love spicy foods! It must be the Sri Lankan inside of me :) The hubby has definitely acquired a level of spice tolerance since meeting me. I searched high and low for spicy risotto recipes and nothing caught my fancy. So I decided, what they hey...why not just be a scientist in the kitchen, play around a bit and see if I can make something that is just what I am craving. And sure enough I did. And the hubby loved it ::spoiler alert:: (I think so much so, that this might go on his hubby 2013 favorites). It was delicious! And this time I tried actual Arborio rice vs. Jasmine or Basmanti rice.







SPICY CHICKEN POBLANO RISOTTO
A For the Love of Dessert Original Recipe

INGREDIENTS

4 c. of chicken borth
3 tsbp. olive oil
11 oz. chicken strips (I use Tyson's Grilled Chicken Strips), cooked
1-3 tsp. crushed red chili peppers*
4 oz. (~ 1/2 c.) chopped poblano peppers
1 tsp. chili powder*
3 green onions, diced
1 c. rice (Arborio preferred, long grain rice as substitute)
1/4 c. cooking wine
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

*Add amount based on desired spice preference

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add in chicken strips and satue until warm (The Tyson's Grilled Chicken strips come cooked. If you are using raw chicken, cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center). Empty chicken onto plate and set aside. Heat an additional tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. of crushed red peppers. Saute until fragrant. Add in poblano peppers -- cooking until tender and no excess liquid remains. Empty into bowl and set aside. Cooking the poblano peppers with a little crushed chili will add spice to the peppers.

In a pot, bring chicken broth to a boil, then reduce heat and keep warm over low heat.

In a skillet, heat 1 tsbp. of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add in 2 tsp. crushed red chili pepper (or less if you prefer less spice), chili powder and green onions. Saute until fragrant and translucent, approximately 3-5 minutes. Add in rice and stir well to coat with olive oil-mixture. Cook rice for an additional 3 minutes, stirring only occasionally.

Next add in cooking wine and cook until all the wine is absorbed -- stir constantly. Continue to cook rice by adding 1/4 c. of warmed chicken broth at a time into the rice, stirring continuously until broth has been complete absorbed (it best to use a ladle to add the chicken broth).  Do not add more broth until the previous amount has been entirely absorbed by the rice.

Continue adding increments of chicken broth and allowing rice to absorb all the broth -- do this until all the broth has been used and rice is cooked through (add more broth if rice needs additional cooking). Rice should be tender.

Once risotto is cooked stir in Parmesan cheese until well incorporated and cheese is melted. Finally fold in chicken and poblano peppers. Garnish with additional crushed red peppers if desired.

Enjoy,
Chika

09 November 2013

Enchilada Pasta-Bake



Sorry I dropped off for a bit there. Ever read that children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? If not you should -- it's funny and cute. Well, I had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day which ended up affecting my mood for the week? And you know those days that just make the whole week suck? Yup...that would be me....now :/ Don't worry, nothing personal. More on the school front. I got some bad news on this award I applied and worked my butt off for. Turns out -- they still did not think it was good enough. ::sigh:: I cried for about a day, and sulked for another day. I am just starting to get back into not being mopey. I know, I know...I should not let this get me down so much and to be honest I have no idea why it hit me so hard, but man, it brought me down! But, I will not be defeated, will brush myself off and try again.

And on top of that, for the past week, I have been getting awful sinus headaches :/ I cannot seem to get rid of them and by the time it's evening, my head is hurting so badly that I feel nauseous and can't even open my eyes. And my sinus headache was the worst on my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...just my luck and probably because I was crying. So that's what's been going on with me. Sory to be Debbie Downer in the corner....I just wanted to explain why I've disappeared. The hubby was super sweet (yes...as always) and when I got home from my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, I had flowers and my favorite chocolate bar waiting for me. It was so nice, and just what I needed. I guess I'll keep him ;) 


I made this pasta for the hubby two days ago. I wanted a recipe that I knew would last a few days (though, knowing the hubby, I should have known a few days would only be two ;). It is super easy to make, because you throw ingredients in a skillet let is simmer, stick it in the oven and voila -- delicious meal :) Most of my time making this meal, was on the couch! Though I had the horrific food blogger moment when I opened my cupboard for one of the ingredients and it wasn't there :/ So, I am missing black beans. But I included a note to add it, if desired.





ENCHILADA PASTA-BAKE
Adapted from Plain Chicken
INGREDIENTS 

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. green onion
1 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
1 tbsp. garlic powder
15 oz. of red enchilada sauce (I used 1 1/2 --10oz--cans)
1 c. of salsa
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. of milk  (or 1/2 c. of sour cream)
8 oz. pasta 
1 c. frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 c. frozen chopped poblano peppers, thawed + some for garnish
1 c. black beans, drained*
2 c. of cheese, divided**

* I did not add beans because I did not have any at home :( Though I thought I did. But I think it would make the pasta even better!

**I used 1 c. of pepper jack cheese and 1 c. of the fiesta blend. You could also just do 2 c. of the same cheese.

DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute green onions until slightly browned and fragrant. Add in ground turkey -- sprinkling taco seasoning and garlic powder over meat -- and cook until browned. Drain any extra fat.

Stir in enchilada sauce, salsa, chicken broth and milk. Add in pasta, making sure pasta is completely submerged in sauce. Bring contents to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to low heat and cover skillet. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Then fold in corn and poblano peppers (and beans if desired). Cover and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes, until pasta is tender. If your pasta is not tender, but your liquid (sauce) is low, add in 1/4 c. of enchilada sauce, 1/4 c. of chicken broth and a tbp. of salsa, at a time, until pasta is tender. Once pasta is tender and no residual liquid remains, stir 1 c. of cheese until completely melted.

Coat a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour enchilada pasta in casserole dish and cover with remaining cheese. Place in oven and bake for 5-10 minutes until cheese has completely melted. Remove from oven and garnish with poblano peppers.

Enjoy,
Chika

02 November 2013

Pizza-tinis



Can you believe that is already November?!? That daylight savings time is tomorrow AND stores are putting out there Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff (because Thanksgiving is only 26 days away). Whoa, right? Well, I for one am excited. Thanksgiving lets me know that my semester is almost over and in just 3 weeks my sister, brother-in-law and cousin will be here!  I am really excited. I also just found out today that my brother and his family might come as well ::keeping my fingers crossed::. The hubby and I's apartment might be very cramped for a bit -- but when it's full of family -- it's well worth it. I love my siblings! And I think one of the worst parts of growing up is not seeing them everyday. You just get so used to being with your siblings everyday, and having fun, that when its gone -- it's like an empty space in your life....so I can't wait to be reunited.

I had a lot of fun yesterday. I woke up early to be one of those day after Halloween candy hoarder, creepers...that's right...I said it ;) Hahahah...but in a good way, because obviously I was one yesterday! But I went to three different stores to take advantage of their sales. I picked up decorations for next year, costumes for Ninja (he looked absolutely adorable in them), some dog toys, and A LOT of candy. Usually Halloween candy is not marked down as much as everything else, but the grocery store I went to had someone call in sick and was swamped switching out their Halloween stuff and so they made everything 50% off :) Win! I now have a large cupboard full of different candy bars. I plan to do a series special of candy bar desserts while my family is visiting. Candy bar desserts are always fun; I'm excited.

My blog is also now on a sweet tooth withdrawal after my Spooktacular countdown. Ironic, right, for a blog named For the Love of Dessert ;) But I am aware that my savory posts are some of my more popular posts. So to get back into the swing of things, I have a fun, easy and savory meal to make. I love, love, love kid friendly meals. I saw this commercial for Pillsbury biscuits -- in which they made pizza. It looked delicious and it just struck me as an incrediblely fun meal to make that any kid would like. I decided to make it extra "fun" by adding hot dogs, because we all know my love of hot dogs. But I added some adult favorites like poblano peppers and crushed red peppers (which you can easily leave off). They are ready in a pinch and the hubby and I both, scarfed them down. If you have kids, I am sure they will have so much fun "building" their own pizza.







PIZZA-TINIS 
Adapted from Pillsbury

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

1 (10.6 oz) can of Pillsbury Grand refrigerated biscuits (8 biscuits per can)
1 c. pizza sauce
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
5 hot dogs, sliced (or 3.5 oz. sliced pepperoni)*
1/2-1 c. poblano peppers*
Crushed red peppers for garnish*

* Substitute for your own topping favorites: ham, chicken, onions, mushrooms, extra cheese, etc.

DIRECTIONS 

Line baking sheet with either a baking mat, aluminum foil or parchment paper. Lightly grease with cooking spray. On a floured surface roll each biscuit into a 6 inch round circle.  Spread 2 tbsp. of pizza sauce over each biscuit and top with desired toppings. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese (~4 tbsp.).

For my pizzas: Spread pizza sauce over each biscuit and top with sliced hot dogs (~6-8 slices) and 1 tbp. of poblano peppers. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over toppings. Garnish with crushed red peppers.

Place on greased baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes until biscuit is a light golden brown and cheese is bubbly.

Enjoy,
Chika