Beets and Avocado Chocolate Cake

Dessert

Beet Avocado Chocolate Cake

I know that a recipe is a good one when I get the approval of my friend’s 10 year-old little girl with selective food preferences. (I am a former picky eater myself, by the way.) This dessert, dear readers, got hers (and her mom’s and other tasters’ too). She didn’t notice the presence of beets and avocado in the cake until I told her. All she tasted was this chocolaty and soft cake with just the right level of sweetness, which I did too. Once I revealed the ingredients, this little girl told me that she wanted to make it and asked me for the recipe. Ha! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you, fellow blogger Poppy’s Patisserie Bunny Kitchen!

Here’s my slightly adapted recipe (I didn’t do the chocolate glaze or almond toppings. Maybe next time. I thought that the cake was great by itself.)

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of ground pecan (I think almonds, walnuts, or cashews would work nicely too.)
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 4 tsp of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of mashed cooked beetroot (I used three small beets that I boiled for about 30—40 minutes, peeled, and ran in a food processor)
  • 1 cup of honey (The original recipe asked for half agave and half date syrups. I went with honey instead.)
  • 1 cup of mashed avocado
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup of dark chocolate chips, melted

Steps (I pretty much follow the original recipe):

  • Preheat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Mix the dry ingredients (flour, pecan, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a bowl
  • Mix the wet ingredients (mashed beetroot, honey, mashed avocado, canola oil, vanilla extract, melted dark chocolate) in a separate bowl
  • Combine the dry and the wet ingredients. Whisk, beat, mix it really well.
  • Pour the batter into a 9-inch round baking pan and bake it for an hour to an hour and a half. Make sure a cake tester (I use a skewer) comes out clean once inserted into the cake.

Hope you like it!

Have a good day

For Nana Banana

Original recipe: Possibly the Worlds Healthiest Chocolate Cake: Beetroot and Avocado Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze and Toasted Almond Gold Dust by Poppy’s Patisserie Bunny Kitchen

Sauteed Cabbage and Carrots

Vegetable Recipes

I like cooking vegetables. Their wide variety gives out many different taste and menu possibilities. That, and most of the time I find a lot of the veggie recipes to be easy to make. Here’s one to prove my point: sautéed cabbage and carrots, another childhood dish I grew up with in Indonesia. Originally called, orak-arik, this recipe has to be one of the easiest things to make. With shredded cabbage, carrots, a little bit of vegetable oil, salt, black pepper, and garlic, I get a delicious plate in no time. Do you notice how sweet carrots become after being sautéed? That sweetness goes real nice with the black pepper and crunchy cabbage. In its traditional form, the recipe includes scrambled eggs in the mix. But I am making that optional here.

Sauteed Cabbage and Carrots by Tiny Chili Pepper

Cooking the cabbage and carrots

Sauteed Cabbage and Carrots by Tiny Chili Pepper

Things that we’ll need:

(Serve 2)

  • 1 small (or half of a large) cabbage head (cut into thin shreds)
  • 3–4 carrots (cleaned and chopped in a food processor)
  • 3 garlic (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Steps:

  • Heat up a medium size pan (over medium heat)
  • Add oil and then garlic. Let it sizzle for two minutes
  • Add carrots, cabbage, salt, and black pepper. Stir to mix everything together (I use two cooking spoons to mix them up).
  • Cover the pan and let the veggies cook for five minutes or until everything wilts
  • Move it away from the heat

Ideal to serve as a side to a beef or chicken dish. Don’t forget the rice :D.

Hope you like it and happy cooking!

Orak arik by Tiny Chili Pepper

Giada’s Blueberry Banana Bread

Baking, Dessert, Snack


 

Banana Blueberry Bread by Tiny Chili Pepper

Ah, the good old banana bread: rustic, classic, and reliable. A fantastic company for coffee over breakfast or snack time. I simply love it. Not to mention the aroma it creates in the apartment when I bake it.

When I started learning how to bake, I picked beginner-friendly recipes. One of them was this wonderful Dark Chocolate Banana Bread  recipe by Baker Bettie. It became a favorite. This summer, I found another hit: Banana Blueberry Bread by Giada De Laurentiis. It has made a few appearances since then. I love how the spicy nutmeg and cinnamon reveal their wonderful presence in every bite.

A favorite: banana-blueberry bread

I follow the recipe with a couple of minor adjustments:

  • Place a sheet of parchment paper to line my oven loaf pan
  • Bake the bread for 55 minutes instead of 60 minutes (my apartment’s oven tends to get really hot I think)

To see the highly recommended recipe, please click here: Banana-Blueberry Bread

Thanks for reading and I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Peace

Strawberry Raspberry Jam

Appetizer, Condiment, Dessert, Snack

Strawberry and Raspberry Jam 2 by Tiny Chili Pepper

Two weekends ago, I went on a a backpacking trip on the northwest side of Michigan with my husband and a couple of friends. On our drive home, we stopped by a local eatery/store called 13th St. Market. The quaint country cafe served good traditional American breakfast that immediately fulfilled our hunger. What I really liked though were the homemade strawberry and raspberry jam. Folks, they were amazing: fresh, fruity, a little sweet and a little tart. I was intrigued. I love jam, especially the ones with chunky fruits.

At home, I searched for fruit jam recipes and found a good one: Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. I had frozen some strawberries and raspberries that I bought from the market a few weeks ago. So I used them instead of blueberries.

Strawberry Raspberry Jam by Tiny Chili Pepper

Here’s my adapted version:

  • One cup of halved strawberries
  • One cup of raspberries
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • A dash of salt
  • Lemon juice from 1/4 lemon

I cooked the berries and sugar in a small pot until they started to simmer and then added the salt and lemon as the original recipe suggested. I let it boiled for 40 minutes on medium heat and stirred occasionally until it thickened. Once I was done, I let the jam cooled down to room temperature and stored it (covered) in the refrigerator. From the recipes I’ve read, refrigerating fresh jam will allow it to last for two weeks. But oh, that jam was so good that we polished it off so quickly :D.

More recipes and article on fresh jam:

Make Room in the Fridge for Jam—Making Jam, Without the Can, NYTimes

Easy Strawberry Jam Recipe, Ina Garten

My next batch: Strawberry and Blueberry Jam

My next batch: Strawberry and Blueberry Jam

Heavenly Buttery Soft Broccoli

Vegetable Recipes

A new favorite Brocolli cooked with anchovies by Harini

Salty and aromatic, garlicky, and buttery soft broccoli! The dish has earned a spot on my favorite list. Thanks, Food52. The trick? Immerse the vegetable in boiling water (also known as blanching) for five minutes and then cook it with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, and anchovies. Yes, anchovies! The result? Incredibly tender, savory, but yet sweet broccoli that would melt in your mouth.

I do mine slightly different from Food52‘s recipe. Here’s my adapted version:

(Serve 2)

  • 1 bunch of broccoli (a bunch that would be enough for two people). I remove the florets by hands and make sure that they’re not too chunky.
  • 8 anchovies (chopped). I use marinated ones. The original recipe asks for 4 anchovies but I think 8 make my dish much more flavorful. I believe anchovy is the key ingredient here 😀
  • 3 garlic (chopped)
  • 3—4 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 hot finger peppers or 2 Thai peppers (chopped)
  • Black pepper

Steps:

  • Fill 1/3 of a medium pot with water and bring to boil over medium heat
  • Add broccoli florets into the water, cover the pot, and let simmer for five minutes
  • Meanwhile, heat a medium pan (over medium heat) and add olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and chili peppers. Stir frequently and let them cook for one minute or until the anchovies start to melt in the oil. Reduce the heat.
  • Once the five minutes of hot bath is done, drain the broccoli, and add into the pan
  • Stir and mix the broccoli with the olive oil-anchovies concoction. Add black pepper. Cover the pan, lower the heat, cook for another three minutes (until the broccoli become soft), and then turn off the heat. Let the broccoli stay in the covered pan to soak the olive oil, anchovies, garlic, and peppers for at least half hour before serving. (The original recipe calls for 2 hours of cooking over low heat, but I find that my broccoli gets soft enough after the blanching, then the three-minute cooking with anchovies, and the half hour of resting in the covered pan. I think the heat gets trapped and continues to cook the vegetable for a while.)

Great to serve by itself, over rice, on top of egg noodle or pasta, or as a side dish to Yakiniku-style Beef and Sauteed Onion.

Inspired by a similar recipe using the same method of cooking, I tried my recipe above with carrots! I found that shredded or thin-sliced carrots work better for this method. I skip the blanching part and just cook the carrots directly in the anchovies-garlic-chili pepper infused olive oil. Stir and mix them well, cover the pan, lower the heat a bit, and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the carrots rest in the covered pan for half hour before serving. The mixture of anchovies, garlic, and chili peppers magically brings out the natural sweetness of the carrot. So good!

Carrot cooked in anchovies-garlic-chili peppers infused olive oil by Harini

Hope you like it. Thanks for visiting!

Peace

Yakiniku-Style Beef and Sauteed Onion

Meat

Yakiniku style beef with sauteed onion by Harini

Sometimes I run out of cooking ideas. When it happens, I employ the easiest technique to get inspired: asking my family and friends about their dinner menu plan :D. It was how this recipe came about. I sent a text asking a friend, “What are you cooking for dinner tonight?” She replied, “Beef cooked with onions. Easy breezy and delicious!” She told me that she cooked the beef (cube cuts) with salt, pepper, sweet soy sauce, tamarind juice and then set them aside on a plate. Then using the same pan she sauteed the onions, garlic, chili peppers, and bitter bean. Once the vegetables are done, she put the beef back in the pan and mixed the two together. Ah! That really sounded good and easy. I really liked that one-pan cooking method and the sauteed onion part. I love sauteed onion! See, these food talk rarely fail to spark cooking ideas in me.

I think the beauty of cooking is that it allows individual creativity. In dealing with recipes, most of the time I adjust spices and sauces based on what I have in the kitchen and my mood. In this case, I didn’t have tamarind or bitter bean. Also, I was in the mood for Yakiniku-style beef. So, borrowing my friend’s cooking method and some of the ingredients in her recipe, I created my Yakiniku-style beef and sauteed onion instead :D. The smokey and nutty aroma of sesame oil was so inviting. My sauteed onion added a hint of sweetness in the spicy sauce. Together they create this delightful flavor combination.

Ingredients for Yakiniku-style beef:

  • 1 pound of beef (I sliced it to thin cuts)
  • 4 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 3 chopped garlic
  • 4 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1/2  tablespoon of ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper

Ingredients for the sauteed onion:

  • 1 (smaller) sweet onion (slice into thin cuts)
  • 2-3 hot finger peppers (slice it into chunky cuts or thin cuts, your call)

Steps:

  • Mix: sesame oil, chopped garlic, soy sauce, ginger powder, chili powder, and black pepper in a bowl. Add beef into the bowl and make sure  it is coated well with the marinade. Place it in a zip lock bag and let it marinade for 1/2 to 1 hour in the fridge.
  • Once marinating time is up, heat a large pan (over medium heat)
  • Add beef along with the marinade into the pan and let it sizzle. Cover with a lid and cook for 3–4 minutes while stirring frequently.
  • Once cooked through, remove meat from the pan (leave the sauce) and set aside
  • Reduce the heat a little bit. Using the same pan, with the sauce and oil from cooking the beef, saute the chopped onion and chili peppers. Cover with a lid and let them cook until the onions become soft and translucent. They should taste sweet and delicious.
  • Bring back the beef into the pan and mix it with the onion, chili peppers, and sauce. Cover with a lid and let them cook for another 2  minutes
  • Great to serve with jasmine rice.  Roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus also make good companies for this main dish.

Serve two

Yakiniku style beef with sauteed onion by Harini

Hope you like it. Thanks for reading!

 

Mango Sambal Over Broiled Tilapia

Condiment, Seafood Recipes

In Surabaya, there’s this incredible sambal mangga or chili pepper condiment that is mixed with thin-sliced mango. (In Bahasa Indonesia: sambal refers to crushed chili peppers mixture and mangga means mango.) The condiment is usually served with grilled fish, squid, or prawn, and steaming hot jasmine rice. It is simply to die for, as my sister would say. This sambal and the grilled seafood are my must-haves when I return to my homeland. Here’s what the condiment looks like. Whenever I look at this picture, I experience a Pavlov’s dog moment. Ding!

Mango Chili Pepper Condiment at Asia Baru Restaurant in Surabaya

Thin-sliced mango in chili peppers: A condiment at Asia Baru Restaurant in Surabaya (Picture by Harini, 12/12)

Inspired by mango sambal at a local seafood restaurant in Surabaya, I created something similar to accompany my broiled Tilapia.

Tilapia covered by Mango Sambal

Tilapia covered by Mango Sambal by Harini

Here is how I do the manggo sambal (My recipe for the broiled Tilapia is right below it.)

Warning: Spicy!

We will need:

  • 1 mango (I find one that is ripe but not too soft)
  • 3  Thai peppers
  • 5 hot finger peppers
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 garlic
  • 1 small tomato (or 4 grape tomatoes)
  • Salt

Steps:

  • I peel the mango and gently slice it into thin cuts (lengthwise). Then stack the mango meat together and start slicing them into skinny cuts. Plate them and set aside.
  • Make the sambal in a food processor by mixing and chopping: Thai peppers, tomato, hot finger peppers, shallots, garlic. Add salt.
  • Mix the mango and sambal together.

Mango sambal by Harini

For the broiled Tilapia: (or your preferred mild-tasting fish), we’ll need:

  • 4  fillets (thawed)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ginger powder (a pinch)
  • Turmeric powder (a pinch)
  • Coriander powder (a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 Lime (lemon works too)

Steps:

  • In a bowl, mix vegetable oil, salt, pepper, ginger powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, lime juice from half of lime 
  • Coat the fillets with the marinade and let them sit for 15 minutes. Make sure they are coated evenly on both sides.
  • Heat the oven broiler
  • Grease the oven tray and place the fillets on it.  Broil for 8-12 minutes (no turning) until the fillets turn golden brown, crispy on the outside, and flaky in the inside. Give at least 6 inches of distance between the broiler and the tray.

Broiled Tilapia by Harini

Plate the fish and top with the mango sambal. Serve with hot jasmine rice. Add some more lime juice from the other half if necessary.

Ding!

Serve with rice by Harini

More Tilapia recipes:

Crispy Baked Tilapia

Spiced Up, Steamed, and Broiled Tilapia

Have a great weekend!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, and Sweet Onion

Vegetable Recipes

Once upon a time, there was a girl who didn’t like any vegetables. Not peas, not broccoli, not spinach, not eggplant. Brussels sprouts? Forget it. I heard that trying to convince her to try vegetables was nearly impossible. So I never tried. Until one day, her friends ordered a plate of delicious roasted Brussels sprouts. Yummy, crunchy, and crispy. She tasted one and became a believer. A believer in the fact that vegetables can be (even more) tasty and enjoyable when seasoned and prepared in certain ways. The girl is a dear friend of mine. She gave me her permission to use this story as long as she remained nameless :D. So I dedicate this entry to her: my good friend who is, slowly but surely, starting to enjoy delicious vegetables.

Roasted Veggie Combo by Harini

I think of food preference as something personal, cultural, and habit driven. Sometimes, I feel like it is also colored by each individual’s beliefs, experiences, memories, and perception. A fascinating thing to observe. So I digress. Anyway, in the spirit of enjoying tasty and delightful veggies, I offer you my latest favorite side dish, late night snack, and (sometimes) breakfast. I like them THAT much!

Roasted Veggie Combo by Harini

My current favorite roasted-veggie combo contains of Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and sweet onion. The sweet potato and onion absorb the spicy chili powder, salt, and black pepper really well. The vegetables’ natural sweetness and peppery seasonings complement the nutty flavor of Brussels sprouts nicely. Here’s how I do it. We will need:

Brussels sprouts

  • 10 Brussels sprouts (Remove Brussels sprouts’ end of the stem and outer leaves. Halve the vegetable.)
  • 1 sweet potato (Cut into thin wedges)
  • ½ sweet onion (Slice into thin wedges)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder

Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and chili powder. Coat each one of them.
  • Place all vegetables on a large oven tray. Give space between vegetables, avoid crowding them up.
  • Let them roast for 15 minutes, flip, and cook again for another 5 or 7 minutes.
  • Serve 2

Note: Sometimes, when I do Brussels sprouts only, I just broil them for about 5–8  minutes. Heat the broiler for a minute before starting. I give more than 8 inches of distance between the broiler and the tray, or use the middle or lower rack, and leave the oven door ajar, just a little bit, to avoid charring.

Broiled Brussels Sprouts by Harini

Hope you like it. Thanks for visiting!

Great tips on roasting veggies from Food52

How to Roast Any Vegetables

More Brussels sprouts recipes:

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Potato with Shiitake Mushroom, Sweet Corn, and Brussels sprouts

Grilled Nutella Sandwich Dusted with Powdered Sugar

Dessert, Snack
Nutella sandwich dusted with powdered sugar by Harini

Nutella sandwich dusted with powdered sugar (by Harini)

Years ago, my friends and I frequented Quartino in Chicago. We would go to this Italian tapas restaurant, usually, right after work. Most of us worked, some lived, in downtown Chicago at that time. So Quartino was a good place in a central location  for a bunch of friends to regroup and replenish. We’d sit at the lively bar section, crowded our small table with wine, pizza, cheese, various small plates, and some desserts. Conversations about work, bosses, coworkers, relationships, dating, would swim together with other topics like cultures, politics, and whatever world affairs happening at the time. Time has flown by, people have moved away, but Quartino remains to be a memorable hang out spot for me.

grilled nutella sandwich by Harini

Recently, I had the chance to return to the restaurant with a couple of old friends. One of them had mentioned Quartino earlier that day and our afternoon saunter just happened to take us close to the place. So we took it as a sign to pay a visit.

Far from feeling hungry, we just ordered drinks. But then my friend Farah asked the server, “Do you guys still have Nutella Panino?” The server said yes and took the order. I had forgotten about this simple/cannot-go-wrong dessert. Then I remembered how most of my sweet tooth friends loved this grilled Nutella sandwich. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a sandwich filled with Nutella spread, grilled, cut up, and dusted with powdered sugar!

Back in my apartment, I made my version of the panino for Jeff. I think it may have made him fell in love all over again—either with me or with Nutella 😀

So here’s how I do my version of Nutella Panino.

(Eater discretion is advised)

To serve two, we will need:

  • 4 slices of bread (I am loving these Wholesome Oatmeal bread at the moment)
  • Nutella spread
  • A little bit of butter
  • A little bit of powdered sugar

oatmeal bread

Grill the sandwich and gently press down with a small pan lid

Steps:

  • Heat up a small non-stick pan. Stay on medium heat. (I don’t have a panini press so I grill the sandwich manually)
  • Spread Nutella on one side of a bread and cover with another bread
  • Add a little bit of butter on the hot pan until it is melted
  • Place the sandwich on the pan, grill, and press very gently with a small pan lid until the bread gets that nice golden color
  • Turn and grill the other side
  • Remove and let it cool down
  • Repeat the steps for the other sandwich
  • Cut up the sandwiches
  • Dust with powdered sugar

Great snack to serve with dark, robust coffee.

Hope you like it and thanks for visiting!

Buon Appetito!

cut up Nutella sandwich by Harini

Nutella sandwich by Harini

To my old Chicago pals

Easy Summer/Picnic Menu: Chicken Salad Sandwich with Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto, Poultry Recipes, Sandwiches


Freshly made basil pesto is heavenly. I learned about the sauce through a food talk with a friend a long time ago and I’ve been hooked ever since! Basil really liven things up. Not to mention the fragrance…oh so delightful. I have them growing in a container outside of our apartment this summer. So I’ve been able to use them a lot for pesto, on pizza, and on tomato salad. Yumm!

Anyway, one time last month I picked a bunch of basil leaves and made pesto sauce. Then I mixed it with roasted chicken breast and made sandwiches out of the delicious combination. I packed them up along with another type of chicken salad sandwich with mayo, chives, and celery and brought them for lunch on our hiking trip. The pesto sauce, with that fantastic aroma of basil, crunchy pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and garlic, wrapped the roasted chicken so well. Super easy to make and packed with great flavors. Now that’s a great combination 🙂

What we’ll need:

  • 1 pound of thick-cut roasted chicken breast meat from the deli section. (Next time I will roast bone-in and skin-on chicken in the oven, like this recipe. I was rushing to pack for the trip since I had miscalculated my schedule that day. Hence the deli alternative to create the sandwich at the time. It worked really well though!

Chop and mix in a food processor:

  • Two handful of fresh basil leaves (maybe close to two cups)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • A tablespoon of pine nuts  (I’ve read that walnuts work fine too)
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan/Asiago cheese
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Steps:

  • Dice the roasted chicken
  • In a large bowl, mix basil pesto sauce with the chicken
  • Serve with Italian or Pumpernickel bread