Recipe: 4-Ingredient Lentil Stew

Happy spring, everyone! It’s been a while since I posted a recipe… my apologies! I haven’t experimented with any new recipes lately so there wasn’t much to update you on, but here’s another quick and simple soupy recipe (can you tell I LOVE soup and stews yet?)

This tomato-based lentil stew is surprisingly filling and tastes pretty good, and I love how you can customize the flavor to your liking.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 cups of lentils (this will give you about 4 meals worth, depending how large your portions are!)
  • 1/2 can (or 12oz) of pasta sauce **I would definitely recommend you use fresh tomatoes and mash it up so it’s a richer flavor, but pasta sauce works just as well**
  • 1 medium onion
  • 5-6 white mushrooms

Steps:

  1. Sift through your dried lentils to make sure there are no rocks!
  2. Rinse your lentils, and then soak them overnight.
  3. The following day, pour your lentils and about 1 cup of water into a pot and wait for it to boil.
  4. Rinse and dice your onion and mushrooms into fine pieces.
  5. After the water has boiled, add your onion, mushrooms, and pasta sauce into the pot and lower the fire.
  6. For seasonings, I used paprika, oregano, garlic salt, seasoning salt, cumin, and red pepper flakes. You can customize to taste so you get enough salt or spice in your stew.
  7. Let it simmer for about half an hour, and it’ll be ready to eat!

Recipe: Vanilla Panna Cotta

Hello everyone! I apologize for the long hiatus from WordPress! It’s applications time for me right now, so I’ve had more on my plate than I already do in grad school 😦 Thank you for being patient with me as I take longer periods of time to put something together for you to read ❤

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Today, I want to share a dessert recipe that I made! Have you ever had panna cotta before? It’s an Italian dessert made with sweetened cream and thickened with gelatin so it has that nice firm, but melt-in-your-mouth texture. It’s deeeeeeelicious, I promise! For the recipe I used, I actually made two batches to see how it would taste and how firm it would get, so feel free to experiment!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of skim milk
  • 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 envelope (whatever that means), or .25oz of unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar (I’m sure you can use cane sugar or brown sugar to be slightly “healthier”)
  • 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

According to this recipe, it can make 6 servings! I followed that recipe blindly and ended up making a HUGE sweet batch that I just could’t finish in one sitting! Even my roommate helped me, but it was just so sweet… so I tweaked it and the modified recipe is below (to make approximately 2-3 servings):

  • 2 tbsp and 2 tsp of skim milk
  • 3 tsp of lemon jello mix (Yes, you got that right…I couldn’t find unflavored gelatin at my grocery store, so I had to improvise! Since I only used a little bit, it barely affected the flavor, thankfully)
  • 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (My first batch was SUPER sweet, so I wanted to tone down some of the sweet factor)

I always thought panna cotta was super difficult to make since it’s often served at higher-end restaurants that I’ve dined in, but it actually wasn’t too bad! There are generally 3 steps (the 2nd step is the longest), which I’ll list out below:

  1. Pour the milk and gelatin into a bowl and mix it together as best you can to dissolve the gelatin powder.
  2. Turn on your stove to medium heat, and add the heavy cream and sugar into a pot and stir them together.
  3. Cover the pot and watch carefully until your mixture has started to bubble! **You don’t want one or two bubbles, you want the whole surface to start bubbling**
  4. Add the milk and gelatin mix into the pot and stir it vigorously for a full minute.
  5. Quickly remove the pot from heat, and add the vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the mixture into whatever containers you like. **the recipe calls for ramekins, but I used stemless wine glasses since it looks fancy heh**
  7. Let the panna cotta mix cool, uncovered, until it gets to room temerature.
  8. When it’s cool, cover it up in saran wrap, refrigerate it for at least 4 hours. For best results, leave it in the fridge overnight and enjoy it the next day!
  9. BONUS: As an added touch, if you have any berries lying around, you can heat up a small pot, add the berries, a bit of water, and some sugar, and let it simmer until it turns into a berry sauce. Drizzle that on top of your now-cool panna cotta and enjoy the sweet and acidic sweetness of your berry sauce!

Hope you enjoyed reading and will try out this yummy recipe 🙂

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Recipe: Homemade Fried Rice

I know I’ve posted before about a healthier alternative to fried rice…but I thought I’d share this recipe with you all that’s been passed down from my childhood days when my mom used to cook it! It’s nothing like the takeout fried rice, and it can be pretty healthy if you’re mindful of the ingredients you use. I decided to keep it simple with just white rice and mixed vegetables, but you can definitely customize and add meat if you wish! My mom’s version of fried rice always included diced pieces of chicken teriyaki 🙂

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Ingredients (makes about 3-4 servings):

  • 2 cups of white rice (or brown rice, or any other rice you have on hand)
  • 1.5 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
  • soy sauce (I used light soy sauce)

Steps:

  1. Use a rice cooker and cook your desired amount of rice, about one phalanx (which basically means if you put one finger into the rice, add enough water to reach the first joint), add water to the outside of the rice container, and wait for your rice to be fully steamed. **If you don’t have a rice cooker, don’t fret! You can put rice into a non-stick pot, do the same thing with the finger measurement for water + extra, and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes, depending on your preference for texture**
  2. Heat up a frying pan and add some cooking oil. Throw in the vegetables to have them defrost, and add the rice in and stir it all together.
  3. For flavor, add some soy sauce to taste! If you aren’t a fan of soy sauce or are allergic, you can use chicken boullion powder or salt and pepper to taste.

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Recipe: 3-Ingredient Quinoa

Need a quick meal-prep idea? This recipe is very simple and can be easily customized with whatever vegetables you’d like to add. Think of this as a healthier alternative to fried rice, except with quinoa and other diced vegetables! I used meat in this recipe, but you can easily leave it out and include other greens!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • ground meat (optional)
  • soy sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • any other vegetables you’d like to use

Steps:

  1. Take about a fist-sized amount of ground meat and add seasonings or soy sauce as you see fit! Make sure you mix the meat thoroughly with the soy sauce/seasonings, and cover it and put it in the fridge for approximately 10-15 minutes. **I normally add just enough to color the meat or cover the bottom of the bowl**
  2. Pour 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water into a pot and bring it to a boil. When it’s started boiling, lower the fire and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until you see the little quinoa “tails” show and shut off the fire.
  3. I only had 1 bell pepper left in my refrigerator, so I rinsed it, and chopped it up into diced pieces, and added it into the quinoa.
  4. Heat up a pan and cook the meat until it’s thoroughly done.
  5. Add the meat into the quinoa and bell pepper pot and mix it allllll together and you’re done!

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Recipe: Simple Veggie Soup

Happy Monday, everyone! It’s been a surprisingly warm winter thus far, but that never stops me from craving soup 🙂 As you probably can tell by now, I’m a huge fan of soup because my mom always made soup for my family at least once a week. This one is a pretty simple recipe that is versatile depending on what you have on hand. Enjoy!

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Ingredients (makes approximately 3 servings):

  • chicken boullion powder
  • 1 onion
  • 4-5 mushrooms (I used Chinese mushrooms but you can use baby portobello mushrooms or white mushrooms, or any mushrooms really!)
  • napa cabbage (or another veggie that you have on hand)
  • miso paste (optional)

Steps:

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add in about 1 tbsp of chicken boullion (or to taste).
  2. While your water is heating up, chop up your onions (you can julienne them or dice them).
  3. Soak the mushrooms and then cut them up into slices.
  4. Throw both the onions and mushrooms into the heated water and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Rinse your vegetable and chop them up into bite-sized pieces and add them into the pot last and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. For me, I like to add miso paste (it’s super healthy and tasty, too!) to my soup, so I turn off the fire (the recommendations say not to boil miso paste, but to add it into soup when you’re done cooking it), and add a spoonful and mix it in until it dissolves.

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Recipe: The PERFECT String Beans!

Being away from home makes me long for my mom’s wonderful cooking, especially her delicious sautéed string beans. They are soft, but crunchy, and have just a tad bit of charred flavor that elevates her entire dish; and when she adds ground meat, it tastes even better!

While I can’t measure up to her level of cooking expertise, I make do with the resources I have here in Baltimore. I brought some string beans back from NYC so I could have plenty of greens in my diet, and wanted to share the way I cooked it this past weekend because surprisingly, it came out super flavorful even though I only had four ingredients added to the string beans :O (Amazing, I know)

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Ingredients:

  • string beans
  • chicken boullion powder
  • sugar
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic

Steps:

  1. Unless you like fibrous string beans, I would recommend you peel off the ends of the string beans to get rid of that tough, stringy seam that seals the pod. Break off any imperfections from each bean and toss (or compost, if you can!)
  2. Dice your garlic and your onion into fine pieces.
  3. Start your fire on medium heat and when your pan is hot enough, add some oil.
  4. Add the peeled string beans, and about a teaspoon of chicken boullion powder (remember, you can always add more to taste, but you can’t take out the excess if you add too much!)
  5. Stir in the onion and garlic and cover the pan for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add a pinch or two of sugar (my mom’s trick: it keeps your greens looking vibrant and green) and stir it all in.
  7. With the lid half-covering the pan, let the string beans cook for another 2 minutes (or longer, if you prefer them soft).

This recipe is deceptively simple, but I was amazed at how pure the flavor was. It wasn’t too savory, and it had just the right amount of crunch (FYI: the longer you cook your veggies, the more nutrients you cook away!). Hope you enjoy 🙂

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5 Quick Tips to Declutter Your Home

 

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I was kept pretty busy back at home cleaning up my house since my family is moving, and I wanted to share five quick tips for decluttering your abode. 🙂

  1. Work on one room or space at a time. You’ll get overwhelmed if you try to tackle the entire floor of your home at once, especially if you have years of clutter that has built up over the years.
  2. Have a ton of large plastic bags ready. Focus on three types of garbage bags: one for regular trash, one for recycling (separate the plastic/glass/metal from the paper), and one for donations.
  3. When you go through your items, organize them based on a common theme! I came home for winter break to help my family move, and I had over 20 years of clutter to sort through (imagine my shock of the endless amount of items I was looking at). We had items such as stuffed animals, arts and crafts, kids’ toys, etc. I organized them into categories such as these, and for the items that were good enough to be donated, I set them aside.
  4. If you’re in a time crunch and need to clear your home quickly, Craigslist is going to be your best friend. Within days, and sometimes hours, I was able to donate bags of assorted items to people who [I hope!] will put them to good use for their families.
    • if you do have the time, you can definitely list items for sale on Craigslist or eBay, but since we needed to move things out FAST, listing them for free was the most efficient way to go!
  5. When you go through your clothes, look at each item and decide if it’s something that “sparks joy”, as the KonMari Method describes. I really like this article that describes the importance of joy when going through your closet and picking out the clothes that bring you joy. The article describes how there are different ways to bring joy, and that the initial joy in purchasing the item can wear off and it is okay to let it go.

If you haven’t seen, used, or thought about the item you happen upon while you’re decluttering your home, chances are, you don’t need it! That’s the best advice I can offer you after going through three floors and one basement’s worth of stuff x_x

What are your methods of decluttering your home?

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