Easy-Peasy Corn Bread

Here’s a quick and easy basic corn bread recipe that makes a perfect compliment to chili, soups, BBQ dinners, or even breakfast! I borrowed this recipe from Food Network’s Moist and Easy Cornbread Recipe and added actually corn kernels to it for texture and extra sweetness.
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You will need:

  • 8 inch round baking pan, lightly greased with butter
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for baking dish
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup of canned or frozen corn (optional)

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Start by mixing all your dry ingredients in a large bowl: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 2014-11-17 18.56.00Next in a separate bowl combine all your wet ingredients: eggs, butter, and buttermilk.

Pour in the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and fold in gently with a spatula. Make sure there’s not dry spots but it may still look lumpy and that’s okay. If you do want to add corn, fold in the corn into the batter. Then pour into your greased baking dish. 2014-11-17 19.01.51Bake for about 20-25 minutes and until it looks golden brown. You can also insert a toothpick to see if it’s done. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and serve!

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The corn bread came out fluffy, moist, and slightly sweet- I loved the burst of sweetness from the corn kernels. It went perfectly with my turkey chili!
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Browned Butternut Squash Warm Quinoa Salad

Welcome to 2015! While we are all embracing our resolutions to eat healthier, it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice taste and a full belly. Let’s kick off the new year with this recipe that I adapted from Chow’s Browned Butternut Squash Couscous recipeCHOW is one of my favorite foodie/recipe websites!

2014-11-27 16.35.41You’ll need:

  • 1 butternut squash (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 2 teaspoon of cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups of vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 medium scallions

1/2 cup sliced or chopped toasted almondsphoto

Cook the quinoa and broth (or water) according to package instructions or with a rice cooker. Keep warm.

It might be a little tough but peel the skin of the squash with a vegetable peeler. Trim the top and bottom off and cut it open in half, then scrape out the seeds with a metal spoon (this was so much easier said than done). Cut into 1/4 cubes and set aside about 3 cups in a large bowl. Coat the squash in the cumin, salt, and pepper and toss.

2014-11-27 15.29.10Heat coconut or vegetable oil in a shallow pan at medium heat and cook the squash for about 30 minutes until the cubes are golden brown and tender.

2014-11-27 15.31.44In a heatproof bowl mix the warm quinoa, butternut squash, toasted almonds, and scallions together.

2014-11-27 16.28.48This recipe makes a great side dish or small meal that uses one of my favorite Fall/Winter vegetables: butternut squash. It’s full of textures from the crunchy toasted almonds, the “pop” of the quinoa, and the rich softness of the butternut.

2014-11-27 16.36.02The cumin spice in the recipe gives it a great savory flavor and has awesome healthy benefits (*fist pump*) it’s a powerful antioxidant that does all sorts of great things for your body such as boost immunity, lower blood pressure, fight colds- with the chilly winter we need all the help we can get right?

Japanese-style Cheesecake in a Rice Cooker!

This is going to be my last post of 2014! I had this recipe bookmarked for a long time and just kept putting it off until the end of the year! It’s a perfect light dessert to end the year with (before we start on all those resolutions…).

When I was a kid, I used to love love New York-style cheesecake- with its crunchy sweet crust and dense, rich creamy cheese layer- I would eat it every chance I got. Over the years I started thinking the regular cheesecakes were too sweet, too rich, and too unhealthy. I did continue to love the Japanese-style “sponge” cheesecakes that you can find pre-packaged at Asian supermarkets for $2-3. They were crustless, super fluffy and light, with a hint of sweetness and cheese. Japanese cheesecakes are also usually made steamed or baked.

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This was one of those rare occasions I set out to find a recipe for something specific I wanted to make. I found Namekkoseijin’s Ultra-Easy Cheesecake in a Rice Cooker Recipe from Cookpad Japan.

IMG_0466You will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 40 g (for light sweetness), 60-80 g (normal sweetness), or 100 g (sweet!)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 200 g of cream cheese
  • 200 ml of heavy cream (or milk)
  • 40 g of pancake mix (or cake flour)

IMG_0465There’s no easy way to convert the measurements so I busted out my trusty kitchen scale. This is 100 g of sugar shown here (I have a sweet tooth!).

IMG_0467My cat, Tenshi, makes here first appearance on Sweet Therapy. I know having a cat in the kitchen is not too sanitary, but she was super curious about my Kitchen Aid mixer. I had forgotten to thaw the cream cheese so I microwaved the block for about 30 seconds in 10 second intervals and stirring. I added the eggs, lemon juice and sugar and blended until it looked smooth with no chunks.

IMG_0468I added the pancake flour and the cream, spoonfuls at a time and switching between the ingredients. Mix until it is well blended and smooth, if you have a sieve- it is recommended to run it through for a smooth texture. The mixture should still be very thin and watery.

IMG_0471Pour the mixture into a rice cooker (no need to butter or grease the bowl) and hit the cook button! I don’t have a fancy Asian rice cooker, I’m still using the one I used in college that I’m pretty sure I bought in a drug store. I found my rice cooker going to “warm” when clearly the cake was not even solid yet. I had to hit the “cook” button for about 10 times until the cake was solid enough. Stick a toothpick or wooden chopstick in to make sure it comes out clean. 

IMG_0473In the Cookpad recipe, you are suppose to remove the rice cooker bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and cool until room temperature. When it’s cool, place a plate (or use your hand) into the container and flip the whole thing right side up onto the plate.

Well…I got too excited and tried to flip the cake early while it was still pretty warm and I was distracted talking so my cake literally fell apart! It’s a very soft, delicate cake so please wait! I managed to salvage a few pieces for pictures. IMG_0475My cheesecake was still a bit undercooked, but a perfect taste of sweetness and has much more cheese flavor than the store bought cakes. It’s a perfect post-dinner dessert that won’t fill you up but will satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve! 

May your new year be filled with love, joy, good people and good food! ~ Sweet Therapy

Cranberry White Chocolate Walnut Cookies

I am back in the Bay Area for the holidays and excited to bake in my parents’ huge, nice kitchen. I’m a broke graduate student again so I decided to bake some treats for everyone as gifts! I adapted Food Network’s White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies Recipe with it’s festive colors and awesome combination of flavors to make these big chunky cookies. 2014-12-22 23.22.40

Ingredients (with adjustments I made):

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips — 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped — 3/4 cup walnuts pieces, chopped

Most of my family and friends don’t like “overly-sweet” foods and white chocolate are especially sweet compared to regular chocolate, so I lessened the amount. The store did not have macadamia nuts (*sad face*) but walnuts were a worthy replacement. 

2014-12-22 21.36.35Leave it to my Chinese mother to hand me a giant cleaver, when I asked for something to chop the cranberries with…

2014-12-22 21.51.32Start off by creaming the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar together until it’s nice and fluffy. Next beat in the egg and then 1 tablespoon of vanilla. 

In a separate bowl sift together flour and baking soda – then add in the flour mixture spoon by spoon to the butter/sugar mixture.

2014-12-22 21.56.11With a spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the white chocolate, cranberries, and nuts. It should be a pretty thick dough so be sure to mix the ingredients evenly.

To make large gift-worthy cookies, drop heaping spoonfuls (about 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons) of dough onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I was able to make about 20 cookies. Bake in the oven at 350°F for about 12-16 minutes.
2014-12-22 22.06.51When they have a nice golden edge, take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes- they will still be very soft! Use a flat spatula and gently transfer them to a cooling rack.

I couldn’t help but taste test one while they were still warm! Mmm! The cranberries give it a sweet-tart flavor, the white chocolate is sweet and smooth and the walnuts give it a nutty crunch!
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These cookies will disappear quickly, so make extra for your friends, Santa, co-workers (or yourself!)2014-12-23 00.25.10

 Wishing you all happy holidays! – Sweet Therapy

Stir Fried Cabbage with Creamy Peanut Sauce

Here’s a holiday health break between all the holiday baked goods, peppermint mochas, and parties we’ve been indulging in. This awesome recipe from Fiterazzi Magazine will keep you eating your veggies all year long.

Whoever thought the bland boring (and inexpensive) cabbage could be transformed into such a delectable side dish! Break out the wok or sauté pan!

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like the low-sodium version)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (try crunchy or smooth!)
  • (optional) sesame seeds
  • (optional) lime juice or hot sauce

2014-07-21 18.48.48Instead of julienning the carrots, I actually took a vegetable peeler and “peeled” the carrots to get noodle-like thin strips.

Start off by making the sauce: mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut better and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl. Put aside.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium or high heat. Then add the minced garlic and stir. Add in the cabbage and carrots and toss until cooked thoroughly and just slightly wilted.

Pour in the sauce and turn off the heat- mix well until the vegetables are coated with sauce.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garish with lime juice or hot sauce, if desired.
2014-07-21 18.53.41-1Add in a meat or tofu and you got a main dish, serve with brown rice or noodles. I pretty much just stood there and ate the whole dish!

Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls- Tailgate Snacks

I’m still learning a lot about my new home city, first thing I learned: Seattle loves the Seahawks. When professors walk into class wearing blue and green jerseys- you know this is serious. I was invited to my first tailgate party (well semi-tailgate, we watched the game from the comfort of the warm indoors). My first thought was “what should I bring?!”

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When it comes to football, I’m pretty clueless, but at least knew that tailgating entailed a specific type of food. This isn’t a fancy-chocolate-ganache-fruit-tart kinda thing, this is a nachos-chips-and-dip-burgers kinda thing.

I admit, I enlisted the help of Google: “tailgate appetizers”

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I found Picky Palate’s Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls and I was excited to try it out.

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  • 13.3 oz roll of refrigerated french bread loaf (Pillsbury is a good choice)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s minced garlic)
  • 3 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili pepper powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Start off by preheating the oven to 350°F and spraying your mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Pop open the french bread dough package.

Anyone else get really freaked out when it *pops*?

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Slice the whole roll into about 1 inch thick pieces. The recipe said it only makes 10 but I managed to make about 1 1/2 dozen minis. Re-roll, flatten, and press the dough into each muffin cup.

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In a medium bowl: add the cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese, chili powder, garlic salt, salt and pepper. 2014-12-14 10.49.48

Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and heat to medium. Cook the spinach for about 2 minutes and add the garlic then cook for another 1 minute. The spinach cooks very quickly so be careful not to overcook.

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Add the cooked spinach to the mixture- stir and mix until well combined. If the cream cheese was not quite softened it’s okay the hot cooked spinach helps melts it. Spoon the dip mixture into the dough cups.

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Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese on each and bake for 16-18 minutes until the tops and edges just start turing brown.2014-12-14 10.58.35

I had a problem stopping myself from “taste testing” more than 1 because they were so yummy!! The creamy cheese and spinach was a perfect balance for the warm fluffy french bread.

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I made these for the first time so I stuck with the basic recipe but imagine the possibilities of adding sausage, artichoke, jalapeños, or bacon! 2014-12-14 11.34.21

These were a hit and redeemed me as a San Franciscan among hard-core Seahawks fans.

Greetings from Seattle! and Pumpkin Cream Puffs

I’m blogging to you from my new home in rainy Seattle, I’ve got a bigger brand new kitchen yet no time to bake in it! Update: In September, my boyfriend, cat and I packed up my little Honda and drove 800+ miles from San Francisco so I could fulfill my dream of attending University of Washington for graduate school. Sadly I had to leave behind a lot of my cake decorating and baking tools at my parents’ place – trading my tools for textbooks. I’ve survived my first quarter so now hopefully I can do a little bit of catching up during my Winter Break.

Let me kick off this new chapter with Pumpkin Cream Puffs a.k.a. Profiterole a.k.a. Choux a la creme (if you want to get more fancy pants with it). I made these a few weeks ago and brought them to my first Friendsgiving!

Note: while a pretty simple recipe, the whole thing from start to finish will take you a good 5-6 hours so plan accordingly! I ended up rushing late to my dinner.

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These little guys are incredibly easy to make and I didn’t believe it until I made them. I applaud the French for keeping it simple.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter (cold is okay)
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs

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Preheat the over to 400F. In saucepan combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Once it starts boiling, turn off the heat and immediately add the flour and stir stir stir!

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The mixture will quickly turn into a doughy ball that pulls away from the pan’s side. 2014-11-26 22.37.27

Remove the pan from heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes. I transferred the dough to my stand mixer next, but if you don’t have one-consider the next step a good arm work out! Add the 3 eggs, one at a time, and beat well. The mixture will become considerably more “goop-y”.
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The next step is optional. I am a little OCD so I wanted my cream puffs to be smaller and uniform in shape, so I poured all the dough into a makeshift piping bag. You can also just drop tablespoons of dough on to your baking sheet.

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Here’s a great little trick I learned awhile ago. If you are not good at estimating how much to pipe like me, then take a small glass or cup and dip the rim of it into some flour and “stamp” rings onto your baking sheet.

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Okay okay, I know they do not look particularly appealing right now….

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To get rid of those little peaks and to give the puffs a rounded top, dip your finger in water and tap on the peaks.

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30-35 minutes later, when they are light golden brown and firm- you’ve got cream puffs!

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Transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Now it’s time for Part 2: the filling!

You will need:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup of canned pumpkin (Although personally I would have used about 1/2 cup- yes, there is a thing as too much pumpkin!) 

In a chilled metal mixing bowl beat the whipping cream, sugar and pumpkin spice with an electronic mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.

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Fold in canned pumpkin gently. Cover and chill for up to 4 hours.

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While you are waiting, you can start slicing up your puffs horizontally with a serrated knife. The puffs are airy and pretty much hollow, but the shell should also be strong enough to not crumble or break in your hands while cutting them.

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While the cream filling is ready to go, fill up a piping bag with a wide tip OR a large ziplock bag with about 1/2 inch corner cut off.

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This was my favorite part: pipe the cream in as much as you want- some people like to be able to seal the cream in, some people like lots of filling and to have the top shell sit on top of the cream.

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The original recipe actually has maple-caramel sauce too, but since I needed to transport these I thought it’d be way too messy and I also think the cream puffs are light and sweet- prefect for a post-fest dessert.

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Just for fun, I plated one with warmed Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Caramel Sauce(!) and toasted pecans.

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Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for friends, food, living in an awesome city like Seattle and my Sweet Therapy readers!

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