Recipe: Vegetarian Dumplings

Hope everyone in the Northeast US stayed safe from the bomb cyclone this past week! Those of us in NYC experienced heavy winds and snow, and temperatures that felt like it was below 0 degrees Fahrenheit 😦 These record cold temperatures and extreme weather events we’ve been seeing over the course of 2017 are likely due to climate change and humans’ neglect for the role we play on our planet. But I’ll save that spiel for another time…

Vegetarian Dumplings

Since my family and I were stuck indoors, we decided to make some homemade veggie dumplings! When I was in grad school living away from home, I had already moved towards a less meat-centric diet, but when I lived in Mexico and Cambodia, I found it very difficult to regulate my diet when I was living with a host family and also living on a budget. Now that I’m finally (mostly) permanently back home in NY, I’m introducing more vegetarian-friendly meals in the household and sharing some of the benefits of eating less meat i.e. so we can eat healthier and make a lesser environmental footprint as a family.

Ingredients (quantity of each is up to your preference–we had an equal proportion of carrot, tofu, lettuce, and mushroom):

  • carrots
  • extra firm tofu
  • lettuce
  • Chinese mushroom
  • dumpling skin
  • 1-3 eggs (as a binding agent for your dumpling filling)
  • corn starch


  1. Soak the Chinese mushroom in water. As the mushroom is soaking, scrub the carrots realllly well.
  2. Shred the carrots and lettuce using a grater.
  3. Dice up the tofu and mushroom into small pieces, approximately the same sizes as the grated carrots and lettuce.
  4. Mix the carrots, tofu, lettuce, mushroom, and eggs together to make your dumpling filling 🙂
  5. Lay out some plates and dust them with corn starch.
  6. Pour some water and corn starch together (they act as the sealing agent for your dumpling skin).
  7. Lay the dumpling skin open in your hand and put a small dollop of filling in the center, dip your finger into the corn starch water and trace the edges of the skin, and seal the dumpling.
    **Tip: You can seal it by making folds by hand and overlapping each fold, or you can cheat and take the easy way out by folding the skin precisely in half and using a fork to press the edges firmly until it’s completely sealed!
  8. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all of your filling or skin. You can save the filling to make some stir-fry dish with noodles or soup! Depending on how many dumplings you’d like to cook, you can put the rest in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
  9. Boil a small pot of vegetable stock and throw in your dumplings and keep an eye on the pot, stirring occasionally so the dumplings don’t stick together. When you see the skin start to become transparent, you’ll know they’re ready! Since they are fresh, unfrozen dumplings, they should take approximately 3-5 minutes to cook.

You can now enjoy your healthy, homemade veggie dumplings in vegetable broth on a cold winter day 🙂



Recipe: Candied Bacon

When you’re home for the holidays, it’s the perfect time to prepare something delicious with your loved ones. This weekend, my mom taught me how she makes candied bacon with just three ingredients! Fair warning though, it can be quite sweet, so ration your sugar intake for the day or week if you’re gonna be snacking on this 😛


  • 1 pack of thick sliced bacon
  • brown sugar
  • maple syrup


  1. To drain as much fat from the bacon slices as you can, we lined a flat plate with paper towels and stacked the bacon and microwaved it for about 5 minutes, in 2 1/2 minute intervals. We let it sit so the fat could drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While you wait, prepare a baking tray and line your slices. Pour brown sugar and maple syrup to your liking!
  3. Pop the tray into the oven and keep an eye out for it…we waited about 10-15 minutes, took it out, flipped it so both sides could be evenly marinated, and stuck it back into the oven for another 5 minutes.
  4. Get another baking tray (a deeper baking tray is preferable), line it with aluminum foil to catch extra fat or sugar, and put a cooling rack on top. Place the bacon slices onto the cooling rack, and pop them back into the oven again.
  5. Now this is entirely up to you how long you want to leave it in the oven, but watch for it to change to a nice golden brown. Be careful because sugar can burn easily so you don’t want to end up with burnt sugar bacon (unless that’s what you’re going for!)
  6. When you are finished, shut off your oven and take out the baking tray to let your bacon cool individually so when you take them out they aren’t all stuck together.

candied bacon

Enjoy your sweet treat!



5 Traditional Khmer Dishes to Try in Cambodia

Before I arrived in Cambodia, I had no idea what kind of food I would be looking forward to. I knew from looking at maps that Cambodia bordered Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, but wondered what kinds of influence surrounding countries and immigrants had on the country’s cuisine. It turns out that Khmer food uses a variety of spices and herbs that make dishes light up your taste buds!

Here are five traditional Khmer dishes that you should try when you’re in Cambodia:

  1. Amok is a very popular dish in Cambodia where a protein (usually fish) is stewed in a coconut-based curry along with some vegetables.
  2. Prahok is fermented fish paste that is a huge staple in Cambodia. For many people, prahok is the protein in meals because when other fresh proteins are not in abundant supply, this paste could be created and preserved for a long time. I hear it’s not a palatable flavor for Westerners, but I’m determined to try it once before I leave 🙂
  3. Num mi jup (forgive me for my poor Romanization!) also known as Khmer noodle soup, is typically a noodle soup with fish and a bunch of other ingredients concocted together to make a delicious soup. My boss took us to this local restaurant in the village to try the authentic soup!
  4. Any dish with Kampot pepper! This pepper is grown and produced in the Kampot province. This pepper is grown on a little stalk and looks kind of like the musical instrument of a bunch of bells on a stick
  5. Street food is kind of a big category, but I couldn’t just pick one. There is a large variety of street foods that are sold, such as noodle or rice dishes, preserved fruit, boiled peanuts, insects, skewers, and more!

Recipe: Dry-cooked Noodle Soup

Despite the consistent 90+ degree weather in Agua Caliente, I was never able to give up my love for soup! My host sister prepared this really simple noodle soup and it only took 3 ingredients: onion, tomato, and pasta noodles!


I WISH my pasta looked this good!


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 tomatoes, depending how tomatoey you want your soup to be
  • pasta noodles
  • 1 touch of cooking oil
  • salt

Making this soup is so easy that I think it’ll be my go-to whenever I’m craving a quick and easy noodle soup made with readily available ingredients while I’m here.


  1. Dice your onion and tomatoes into small little cubes.
  2. Heat up your pot and add a bit of oil.
  3. Throw your pasta noodles into the pot and let it turn golden brown while you stir it so it’s evenly tanned.
  4. Add the onions, tomato, salt into the pot and stir together with about 1-2 cups of water, depending how much soup you want when you’re done.
  5. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes on low heat, stirring every 5 minutes.


Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing (Vegetarian/Vegan)

Ever since getting back from Mexico, I’ve been wanting to eat less meat and go back to my old routine I set for myself at school eating as little meat as possible. This past weekend, I was craving some mixed greens with quinoa, topped with a honey mustard dressing that my bf had learned to make. It tastes pretty good and can be pretty filling with the quinoa, if you’re afraid you don’t have enough protein in your meal.

quinoa salad

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

  • a box of mixed greens
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 bell peppers
  • a box of cherry tomatoes
  • a box of white mushrooms
  • 2 avocados
  • 4 tbsp honey **use agave syrup for a vegan alternative**
  • 4 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the avocados, tomatoes, mushrooms, mixed greens, and bell peppers and drain.
  2. Use one cup of quinoa and two cups of water and bring to a boil, and then let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix the honey, mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste to make your dressing.
  4. Slice up your bell peppers and mushrooms and set them aside.
  5. Dice the avocado into small pieces (cut one for two servings).
  6. Put a bed of mixed greens and top it with the peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado, and quinoa (decide how much you want since it’s a LOT).
  7. Drizzle the dressing and you’re good to go; a perfectly healthy and vegan meal ready to enjoy 🙂

Recipe: Aguachile

Looking for a refreshing merienda (snack) for a hot, summer day? Look no further, as aguachile is all you’ll ever need (aside from the obvious choices of fresh fruit!) A traditional Mexican dish, aguachile is made up of shrimp marinated in lime juice, cucumbers, onions, and something spicy!


Ingredients // Ingredientes:

  • fresh shrimp // camarones
  • 2-3 cucumbers // pepinos
  • 1-2 red onions // cebollas rojas
  • lots of limes // muchos limónes
  • chili peppers of your choice // cualquier chile picante que quiere
  • tostadas (for serving)

Steps // Proceso:

  1. Peel the shell and clean the shrimp. // Pela la cáscara y limpia los camarones.
  2. Cut up the peppers, cucumbers and onions into slices. // Corta los chiles, pepinos, y cebollas.
  3. Squeeze the juice from all of your limes. // Exprime todo el jugo de los limónes.
  4. Put all of the ingredients together and mix. // Junta todos los ingredientes y mezcla.
  5. Put it on a tostada and enjoy! // Come con una tostada y ya. ¡Buen provecho!

Recipe: Sope (Savory Mexican “Pancakes”)

I promised to introduce more Mexican recipes, so here’s another one! Here is a recipe to make sope, which I can best define it as a small savory Mexican pancake made with masa (dough). You can put toppings on each sope, and from my understanding, these are always savory! I visited one of my participants who demonstrated how to make sope and incorporated Moringa in the dish! It was deeeelish 🙂

Sopes with Chicken and Moringa (con Pollo y Moringa)

Ingredients // Ingredientes :

  • to make chicken broth infused with Moringa // caldo de pollo con Moringa
    • a handful of Moringa leaves // hojas de Moringa
    • 2-3 chicken breasts // pechuga de pollo
    • 2 tbsp dried oregano
    • 1 onion // cebolla
    • salt // sal
  • to make masa
    • blended poblano peppers (optional) // chile poblano liquado
    • chicken broth // caldo de pollo
    • flour // masa de harina
  • to season the chicken
    • black pepper // pimiento negro
    • 3 cloves of garlic // ajo
    • a pinch of saffron // azafrán
    • cumin // comino

Steps // Proceso :

  1. Boil water and add the chicken breast, Moringa leaves and let it cook until the chicken is fully cooked. // Hierve agua y pone pechuga y hojas de Moringa.
  2. Add oregano, onion, and salt to taste. // Pone oregano, cebolla, y la sal hasta que le gusta el sabor.

    Caldo de pollo con Moringa
  3. Take out the chicken breast and shred them. //Saca el pollo y hace trizas.
  4. To make the dough, add the flour and the chicken broth and knead until it’s like dough. // Para hacer masa, añade harina y caldo y mezcla.
  5. Heat a pan and add enough oil to submerge the dough in order to fry it. // Calenta una sartén y pone aceite para sumergir la masa para freír.
  6. Roll the dough into small balls, flatten them and place them into the pan. // Hace bolitas con la masa, aplana las bolitas, y pone en la sartén.

    Sopes con Moringa!
  7. Use a blender and blend chicken broth, black pepper, garlic, saffron, and cumin to make a sauce for the chicken. // Mezcla pimiento negro, ajo, azafrán, comino,y el caldo para hacer salsa.
  8. Heat another pan and add the chicken and the sauce. // Calenta una otra sartén y pone pollo y la salsa.

    Adding the sauce onto the chicken breast
  9. When the sopes are golden brown, take them out and let them drain of extra oil. // Cuando los sopes estan dorados, sacan y secan.
  10. Put the chicken on top of the sope and enjoy! // Pone pollo encima de los sopes.¡Buen provecho!