Monday, June 27, 2011

Alice's Summerthing 2011 [White Chocolate & Dried Cranberries Oatmeal Cookies]

Every year in June, we San Franciscans are blessed with Alice's Summerthing, a free concert in the park where well-known bands play. This year we had a great line up: One Republic, Michelle Branch, Matt Nathanson, Parachute, and Andrew Allen. For the last few years, JSB and I go to the concert if we have time, but we have one criterion. Good food is a must. We made pasta salad, mini-sandwiches, and jello in the past.

Because our other sister, K, was joining us and JSB had invited some friends, I decided that this year I needed to up my game. I decided on a potato salad for the main and white chocolate & dried cranberries oatmeal cookies for dessert. K contributed by making some beef jerky. JSB helped out by making grass jelly and a fruit salad.

These cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy in the center. The sugary creamy sweetness from the white chocolate works well with the tangy cranberries. Oh, and the addition of oats give the cookies the chew, which adds another texture. If you want a taste bud sensory party, these are for you!

White Chocolate & Dried Cranberries Oatmeal Cookies
Servings: 22 cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 heaping cup dried cranberries
3 oz white chocolate, cut into chunks


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugars (brown and granulated sugar) in a large bowl.
  2. Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Pour the entire mixture into the wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add oats, cranberries, and white chocolate and stir until incorporated. Drop tablespoon sized dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What to do with Fennel Pesto? [Warm Avocado Salad or Shrimp Pesto Linguine]

Our family went to a U-Pick organic cherry farm this past weekend. It was only $3.50/pound!! Half the price of the farmer's market!! The damage: 20 pounds = $70. The worst part: we (family of 5) finished all the cherries in 4 days. Yikes. Is it possible to get diabetes from eating too many fruits?

On another note, I thought I would show you some quick meals I made from using the fennel pesto.

Warm Avocado Salad

Warm Pesto Avocado Salad
Servings: 1

3 handfuls of spring salad mix
1/4 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 an avocado, cubed
handful of homemade croutons
7 to 10 slices of Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP of fennel pesto or traditional pesto

Note: I like minimal amounts of salt and light sauce in my food. Feel free to add more pesto, salt, or pepper so that it suits your taste.

Add 2 tsp of butter or oil to skillet -- enough to coat bottom of pan. Allow oil to warm up, then saute the onions over high heat until slightly cooked. Store the onions in a separate bowl.
With flame on low, put pesto and stir it around to warm it up. Turn flame off, add avocados, stir it around to coat it in the pesto.
To assemble: put the salad mix on the bottom, top with onions, the avocado, and sprinkle with croutons and Parmesan Cheese.

Shrimp Pesto Linguine

Another recipe that uses pesto as well is my shrimp pesto linguine. It's similar to the warm avocado salad. Instead of using salad mix, cook 1 serving of linguine, toss with a bit of olive oil, and set aside. Pan fry 4 to 6 shrimps; set aside. Brown some onions, toss in the pesto sauce to warm it up, add in the avocado and linguine, and mix everything together well. On a plate, pour the linguine, avocado, and onion mixture in the center. Top with shrimp and fresh slices of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy~

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to pit Cherries with a Chopstick and Knife (step-by-step picture tutorial)

It's the season where all the wonderful sweet cherries flood the markets. It's also the time where cherry desserts are popular and cherries need to be pitted. Before I came up with this technique, I used to halve cherries and dig pits out with my fingers. Not so pretty, but it worked.

Sometime last year, I remembered reading about using a chopstick to pit a cherry. I tried it once and the cherry was mangled with juice leaking everywhere. I figured that there had to be an easier way and I came up with this method. All you need is a chopstick, knife, plate, and cherries.

Note: I recommend "X-ing" all the cherries first then pushing them out with the chopstick to make the process go faster.

Mmm. The finished bowl of cherries.

Gather your tools: a blunt tip chopstick, knife, and plate. Don't forget your cherries!

Muahhaha. The victim: a ripe cherry.

Make a "X" with your knife on the bottom of the cherry. (NOTE: Watch your fingers! I almost nicked myself a couple of times.)

When you make your "X," make sure the incision goes all the way down to the pit.

Grip the cherry like so. Hold it firmly.

With the chopsticks, give a firm push through the top (where the stem used to be).

The pit should pop right out with minimal juice and flesh loss.

Sometimes pits have a hard time coming out so you'll need to help it along by digging  from the bottom.
X marks the spot!

Done~ Enjoy your bowl of cherries!


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