side dishes

Microwave Sweet Potato Mash

Microwave Sweet Potato Mash

I've been making Sweet Potato Mash this way since high school. Some of my favorite recipes come about from a bit of laziness. :) This method really celebrates the sweet potato for all of its natural beauty and can be made while you're making the rest of your meal. Here in my apartment in Hong Kong, I have one induction plate, vs 6 burners at home in the States. This has really changed the way I cook, especially when it comes to timing and the order in which I cook things. It's nice to have the option to prepare a satisfying side dish like this one, in the microwave while I cook something else on the induction plate.

The incredible sweetness of the flesh on its own blows my mind every time. Normally, I just prepare the mashed sweet potato with flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper, but today I'll show you how adding a bit of freshly grated ginger and a dash of cinnamon can elevate this simple side dish to something really special. There's no need to add tons of cream or fancy ingredients when the flavor of the sweet potato is so vibrant on its own.

Crack Broccoli - The Best Broccoli You'll Ever Eat

Crack Broccoli - The Best Broccoli You'll Ever Eat

This is the best broccoli you'll ever eat. Roasting is such a delicious way to prepare veggies, and broccoli absolutely transforms when cooked in a hot oven. They turn golden brown, the stalks turn tender, and their flavor is enhanced. When roasting any vegetables, it's super simple: don't be afraid of oil & salt! Don't skimp, and toss the vegetables so that they're properly coated in oil and seasoning. 

This roasted broccoli really wakes up the taste buds. Flaky sea salt, cracked black pepper, and thinly sliced garlic are the base for great seasoning, but what really brings this broccoli up a notch is the addition of shichimi. Shichimi Togarashi is a Japanese blend of seven spices that varies depending on the region or cook. The typical ingredients include sansho (Sichuan pepper), dried citrus peel, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, shiso, nori, hemp seeds, and chiles. This mixture is wonderful on meat, noodles, rice, and fried foods. I love adding shichimi to my eggs or on top of my avocado toast!

After the broccoli is roasted, finish it off with a good squeeze of lemon juice and fresh lemon zest for some good brightness and acid. The cake topper is tossing in shaved Parmesan cheese for some nuttiness. This recipe works well for regular weeknight dinners, or as a side for entertaining. There's no need to measure a ton of ingredients - just toss it all together and roast it off in the oven for 15 minutes :)

Holiday Roasted Pumpkin with Cranberries

Holiday Roasted Pumpkin with Cranberries

Speaking of the holidays, this week's recipe is a simple and cozy side dish that is wonderful for this time of year. Roasting vegetables brings so much depth of flavor to the party, and also gives each piece of pumpkin a nice toasty edge. Adding pumpkin seeds for crunch, and dried cranberries for a tart contrast makes this the easiest dish to bring to your holiday parties this year. 

This recipe is completely adaptable. Don't have pumpkin? Try butternut squash or sweet potato. I like adding cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, but roasting the veg with trimmed Brussels sprouts, bacon, prosciutto, shallots, pecans, kale, ginger, chili, or cumin is wonderful as well. In this recipe, I finish off the dish with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, and flaky sea salt, but fresh parsley, feta, or even tossing it with pasta is delicious, too! Watch the video recipe below and let's get cookin! 

Lap Cheong Brussels Sprouts

Lap Cheong Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are fantastic - they pick up tons of flavor from other ingredients, and are extremely versatile! Check out my other Brussels recipes for Crispy Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Sauce! :)  I love living in Hong Kong. It's been such an inspiring experience. Growing up, my grandma often made Lap Cheong, a delicious dried Chinese pork sausage that is normally smoked, sweetened, and seasoned with rose water, rice wine, and soy sauce. It's the perfect mix of sweet and salty. Lap Cheong is a sausage that is dotted with huge gems of fat that render out and are wonderful for cooking the sprouts. This is a nice twist on bacon and Brussels that will have your family scarfing down sprouts :) Let's get cookin! 

Maple Glazed Carrots

Maple Glazed Carrots

An oldie but goodie; simple Maple Glazed Carrots are a delicious side dish perfect for any holiday meal. The natural sweetness of the carrots are enhanced, and fresh parsley, a sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper balances it all out. These are the simplest veggies to make! Seriously they took about 15 minutes from start to finish...and I gobbled them all up right after shooting :) The crisp-tender carrots aren't too sweet and are a wonderful accompaniment to savory entrees. Plus, carrots are super cheap! You can also use colorful heirloom carrots to add more beautiful color to your table. Let's get cookin! :) 

Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip

Cranberry Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip

I really wanted to come up with a fun appetizer that involved deliciously tangy cranberries. This dip is unexpectedly tasty. A blend of fresh cranberries, lemon juice, sugar, jalapeño, green onions, cumin, and cilantro is served over softened cream cheese...yes a block of cream cheese! Honestly, what's better than a good dip? All you've gotta do is throw all the ingredients together, let it macerate a bit in the fridge, and pulse it in a blender. The result is a vibrant cranberry relish that is perfectly sweet, tangy, earthy, and with a slight spicy kick. This dip is festive, flavorful, easy on the wallet, and perfect for potlucks. Let's get cookin!  

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Phyllo Bites

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Phyllo Bites

Happy Holidays!! I’m so excited for Thanksgiving - it’s one of my favorite holidays. Today’s recipe is great for potlucks or hosting your own holiday event. Spinach artichoke dip is one of those classics that are just so comforting and indulgent. Best served when piping hot and topped with tons of cheese…I’ve only really had store-bought or dip from a restaurant. I figured it might be nice to whip up a homemade recipe to cut down on unnecessary preservatives/ingredients. Crisp, delicate phyllo dough is spinach and artichoke dip’s bff. Phyllo seems difficult to work with, but actually turned out to be really therapeutic. You can also use pre-made phyllo cups, available in the frozen aisle. I’ll show you how easy it is to make mini phyllo cups filled with this delicious dip! This recipe is as simple as mixing all the ingredients, spooning the dip into phyllo cups, and throwing them in the oven to get warm and golden! Let’s get baking :) 

Grilled Halloumi with Herbed Strawberries

Grilled Halloumi with Herbed Strawberries

Cheese. I think it's safe to say that for some, cheese is its own food group! Cheddar, Gruyere, Jack, Parmesan, Cotija, Brie, Fontina, Feta, Mozzarella...the options are deliciously endless. One of my favorites is Halloumi, which is a semi-soft, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk. Because of its high melting point, it can easily be fried or grilled. Grilled cheese.

Halloumi is salty, and really wonderful when paired with mint. It's nice to eat during the warm months. The flavor of the cheese is perfect with fruit like grapes, watermelon, figs, and strawberries. Today's recipe is a surprising mixture of flavors that really play off each other and create a fun dish where spicy meets sweet and salty. This would be beautiful when served at brunch or as an appetizer . The macerated strawberries get a little kick from Serrano pepper, and fresh mint and cilantro top it all off. Let's get cookin :) 

Classic Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

Classic Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

I love experimenting with fun, seasonal ingredients, but sometimes learning to make a classic is just as great. Pesto can be made with tons of different ingredients; it’s a game of mix and match. A great pesto only requires a few fresh ingredients. The most important part is using fresh basil (or your favorite herbs) and good quality extra virgin olive oil. 

This recipe is simple and delicious. Pesto is incredibly versatile - once you have a fresh batch, you can use it on way more than pasta! Make homemade pizza, eat it with eggs, spread it on bread or a sandwich, or use it as a salad dressing. This recipe is for a classic basil pesto. A quick pulse in a food processor and you have a fresh, garlicky sauce that is way better than a jar from the store. Let’s get cookin :)

Crispy Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey

Crispy Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey

The other night at dinner my friend and I were talking about how much Brussels Sprouts have made a huge comeback. When we were kids, I hated them and avoided them at all costs. Maybe that’s because they weren’t dressed in duck fat (Barbacco in SF has the most amazing Duck Fat Brussels), tossed with bacon, or covered in cheese. These days, Brussels Sprouts are on menus everywhere, in every which way. Just this last week, I had some amazing ones with cinnamon, radishes, and an over-medium egg. Another night, my friend made some with simple olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper, Parmesan, and lemon juice. They were delicious and made me want to play with another recipe using these lil addictive veggies. 
I roasted these Brussels after tossing them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. They get golden brown and crispy in the oven, and this is one of the easiest ways to prepare brussels sprouts! Balsamic vinegar brings a slight tang to the crispy little guys, and a drizzle of honey after roasting balances everything out. Hope you try these out - they’re the best snack or side for dinner ..they’ll even convert the biggest nay-sayer! Let’s get cookin :)