Good Food (Coconut Curry Chicken and Garlic Chicken Gyoza)

What a delicious week this has been.

First off, as you all know if you have been reading along, I’ve been interning at a bakery all week where delicious pastries of all sizes and shapes abound. Goodness, have I had my fair share of test tastings and sweets during the last week.

I’ve also been cooking up some more extravagant dishes in the kitchen as of late with the free time I have away from school. This free time has been an absolute gift; not only have I found time to care of so many things on my to-do list, but I’ve had time to dive into some dishes I have been waiting to cook up.

Also, as you may also know if you have been reading along, this was prom weekend for me, meaning a great dinner — filet mignon, chicken, sweet potato souffle, creme brulee — at prom and a scrumptious breakfast with friends and Girlfriend (you can see of what breakfast I’m talking about below and in this post).

With all these sweets from the bakery and elsewhere, my sweet taste buds are starting to get a bit tired out. My saving grace? Coconut Curry Chicken and Garlic Chicken gyoza I prepared and froze about two weeks ago, ready to be steamed or pan-fried at will.

These gyoza were incredibly fun to make (and very time-consuming, but I already told you that I have lots of time on my hands nowadays) because I started with some gyoza wrappers I bought, excess coconut milk and garlic, a fridge-full of ingredients, and no recipe in hand. I have to say, these gyoza definitely turned out very well for my first time preparing them, considering I was cooking off the cuff (off the top of my, umm, chef’s hat? But I digress…). The chicken delicately poached in a combination of coconut milk and curry is just awesome and, well, who doesn’t like garlic and chicken? I mean, come on, that combination was born a winner.

Here’s to another week of deliciousness–albeit, a bit further towards the healthier side :P.

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Plans (Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Broccoli & Turkey Meatballs)

Plans have a funny way of turning into something completely unplanned.

Sometimes you spend two hours preparing food for a bike ride to and picnic at the local park, and sometimes that park and bike ride becomes an indoor picnic on your bed with a picnic blanket, Regina Spektor in the background, and a ravenous labrador retriever hounding you for a bite to eat.

Sometimes you bike after you have an indoor picnic and then decide to come back and play Halo with Girlfriend because she insists upon blasting me upside the face with a plasma gun (Score: Fudge 17, Girlfriend 0…sorry, Girlfriend 😉 ).

Authentic, delicious mochi balls from a little Japanese/Korean market down the street for dessert.

Maybe you need to take Girlfriend home right away but really want a frozen lemonade so you stop at 7-11 for a Coke slurpee.

Maybe you were really excited for the plans you made and thought it was perfect.

Well, maybe they were; deviating from plans, however, made my day that much more perfect. Oh, that and the fact that I made turkey meatballs and found purple cauliflower at the farmer’s market. Purple cauliflower, people.

Did I mention it’s purple?

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Stress-Relief (Pizza Semi-Bianco)

First thing is first: my apologies for taking a two-week hiatus from blogging. If you refer to my last post, that may explain things a bit further. On the flip side, that means that I’ve got to make up for those blog posts soon, so double blog post weeks are on their way! My goal is to do at least a blog per week this year.

It has definitely been a rough few weeks, but friends and I are gradually getting back into the swing of things. We all have our own ways of recovering. Mine would be eating tons of sugary and carb-loaded foods and working out in long stretches to compensate.

It’s called balance, people. Doesn’t mean the balance is necessarily right.

Bread and cheese balance with veggies and garlic; a totally right balance

Thankfully, I just put the need to do something physical and the need for good food together by combining them in my first attempt to make pizza. I needed something light, something that would make me feel good (as much for my brain as for my waist), but it had to scream, “I am pizza! HEAR ME SIZZLE AND CRUNCH!”. I immediately thought of a pizza bianco, a traditionally sauce-less pizza decked out with onions, cheese, garlic, and in my case, basil and spinach (hence the semi-bianco, or semi-white).

Not to knock psychiatrists and therapists, but cooking is probably the best therapist you will ever meet. Somewhere between the whirring of a mixer, the sizzling of a skillet, and the heat of an oven lies the key to a release so basic and so simple; knead some dough and try to tell me you don’t automatically feel better. Not to mention, you get some great food afterwards (unless it all goes down south, in which case…lesson learned! I’m speaking from experience, people.)

(Just don’t ask me about pretzels, that tale stays between me and the garbage disposal…)

(But I digress.)

So thank you, food, for being my punching bag. Nothing against you, actual punching bag in the gym that I’ve spent so much time with during the past few weeks; you’ll get some attention after I indulge myself on this incredible pizza.

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Comfort (Roasted Tomato Soup & Panko-Crusted Grilled Cheese)

Those precious, rare, free moments. Those few golden hours with nothing errands to run, no homework to do, no tests to study for, no college apps need to complete anymore (I just finished all of them!!! :)). Those pure, unadulterated stretches of time to relax, rejuvenate, and recover.

Life can become hectic, especially for my friends and I, along with any other teenager, in what is probably the most volatile time of his or her life. With all this seemingly unending chaos, some people seem to burn out. I may be a second semester senior, but I can’t burn out; my grades still matter, along with those upcoming college interviews (very important…I’ve actually got two tomorrow!) and my weekend job at the restaurant. When I can devote a few worry-free hours and a bit of love to cook some comfort food in the middle of all of this, though, I take that opportunity.

I’d hardly be sane otherwise.

It’s a Sandwich-Soup-Sandwich Sandwich! Get it? Since the sandwich slices are “sandwiching” the soup…oh, nevermind.

The ingredients and recipe are simple enough for these dishes. Go the extra mile for these, though. Take that extra few glances in the oven to check if your vegetables are at the peak of their caramelization; take the few moments to taste and spice the soup along the way. Take the time to spruce up your grilled cheese with some panko breading; take the few extra seconds needed to grate the cheese instead of slicing it.

I could definitely the care and love I put into this perfect comfort combo. After I finished, I sat back in my chair, dunked my grilled cheese, ate…and did absolutely nothing else.

Perfect.

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Reflections (Garlic Chicken and Broccoli Pasta)

Now that it’s the new year, it’s almost inevitable that I would look back on everything that this year has brought me: A year filled with new friends, new music, and a new, well-supported singing voice; A final school year, a final day of application writing, and a final countdown to my life in college; My first job, my first love, and my first blog.

To think that this year of so many highs and lows is passing…well, it makes me a bit sentimental!  I need to sit back and let simplicity wash over me during these kinds of times. When I do, I usually stick with the three basic F’s: family, friends, and food.

Need a last-minute backdrop for your photo? Use a cloth!

Never underestimate the power of a simple, home-cooked dinner with your mom or your l friends. I have been living a very high-stress life the past few months, what with schooling, my job, my productions, what have you; but, boy, does slowing down to actually sit at the dinner table with your mom instead of rushing to your desk with your food make you appreciate who and what you have all around you–a great life, a loyal dog, amazing friends, and good health–and, in my case, what I have before I move to far-away Who-Knows-Where, USA next year for college.

Keep the meal simple: soup and salad, perhaps even just some chicken or stew. My take was pasta, broccoli, chicken, spices–nothing more. Nothing to fancy-shmancy; this dinner is about the simplicity of the food not getting in the way of who you share the meal with. It’s funny how the simplest things can make your life feel that much more substantial.

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