Banana Snack Burrito

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To be honest, I haven’t been cooking meals that often in our kitchen lately. It really does take up a lot of time – from preparing, to cooking, to eating, and then cleaning up. There’s no time for that in between classes, meetings, and studying! However, buying every meal can be tiring so I usually make my own in-between-meal snacks. Usually it’s as simple as just an apple but I do have my fancy days that bring the culinary artist out of me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Take these banana snack burritos. Peanut butter. Nutella. Banana. 3 of my favorite ingredients all melded together in a simple burrito. I can only eat half of one since they’re really filling and then I usually leave the other half for one of my suitemates. It only takes 7 minutes to prepare and there is no mess afterwards!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As much as I love our Chipotle that’s down the block, I’d say these burritos come pretty close 😀

Ingredients
1 wholewheat flatbread
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Nutella
1 banana

Directions

Spread peanut butter on center of flatbread.

Spread Nutella on top of peanut butter.

Place banana slices on top, evenly.

Fold flatbread like a burrito and cut in half.

Easy Personal Flatbread Pizzas (Round 2)

In college, it’s not hard to find pizza. In fact, it’s a classic college food – just a call away when studying late at night, can be found in all the cafeterias, and used to lure students to attend club meetings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’ s a healthier version of pizza that can be made in just minutes. All you need is a toaster oven, flatbread, sauce, and toppings. I first had this idea over the summer which I posted about in Easy Personal Flatbread Pizzas. I was pretty excited that I was able to re-use the recipe in my own college kitchen!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a super flexible recipe because basically anything can be used for toppings. I happened to have broccoli in my fridge so I used that. Broccoli is high in vitamins A and C, and is known for lowering cholesterol and risk of cancer, on top of many other benefits. So eat up on broccoli!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

EASY PERSONAL FLATBREAD PIZZAS (ROUND 2)

Ingredients
1 whole wheat flatbread
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped into florets
3/4 cup shredded cheese

Directions

Microwave broccoli florets for 30 seconds so they are soft. Set aside.

Spread pizza sauce evenly on flatbread, leaving a 1-inch border for crust.

Sprinkle broccoli and cheese evenly on the sauce area of the pizza.

Heat in toaster oven at 375  degrees F on the “toast” setting for 10 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Easy Nutella Cheesecake

I could eat spoonfuls of straight up Nutella anytime, anywhere, any day. This smooth, creamy, chocolatey, hazelnut spread is something that once you’re introduced to, there is absolutely no going back. It’s just so…addicting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Starting last year, I’ve been incorporating Nutella in a lot of my baking. It all started with some amazing Nutella cookies stuffed with Nutella for a friend’s birthday. Ever since, I’ve been putting it into everything, like Nutella Swirled Banana Walnut Bread and Nutella Mug Cake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This time I made it the star ingredient of a very simple cheesecake (no-bake!) There are only 4 ingredients: Nutella, cream cheese, vanilla, and a graham crust. Just 4 ingredients for a dessert this wonderful? And no oven needed? I almost still can’t believe it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This delicious cheesecake was for my really good friend, Bahareh’s birthday. Since it was my first time making it, I was worried how it would turn out in the end.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, it was spectacular! One forkful was an intense rush of that creamy Nutella flavor. It was different from regular Nutella since it had been in the freezer for 4 hours. If you’re a fan of Nutella, you’ve got to try this cheesecake because chilled Nutella…it’s a whooole new experience 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

EASY NUTELLA CHEESECAKE

Ingredients
1 jar (13 oz) Nutella
18 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 graham crust
6 Ferro Rocher chocolates (optional)

Directions

Beat the cream cheese and vanilla together until blended.

Mix in the Nutella using a hand-mixer or food processor.

Spread mixture into graham crust so that it is smooth.

Decorate with Ferro Rocher chocolates (optional).

Chill in fridge for at least 4 hours.

adapted from delishhh

Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas

Some days, in between meals, I am in desperate need of a little snack before I run off to my next class. I’ve found that bananas are a college student’s best friend when in a hurry. They give you energy (potassium!), they are mess-free, and you can eat them with as little as 3 (humongous) bites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unfortunately, bananas are not the most interesting fruit. They can get boring. To mix it up, sometimes I add some excitement by eating bananas with peanut butter. One day, I got the idea of a fancier banana that brings this fruit to a whole new level
frozen-chocolate covered bananas! I thought it would be a simple, easy-to-make treat since all it took were 3 ingredients…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut of course, there were problems.

Problem 1: I did not have any popsicle sticks for the bananas. I didn’t even know where I could buy popsicle sticks around campus! So, I used spare wooden chopsticks that we use for sushi!

Problem 2: The slow-cooker crockpot I brought from home that I was going to use as a chocolate melter wasn’t working. I took a chance with the microwave but was skeptical since I’ve never successfully melted chocolate with a microwave. This time I microwaved the chocolate chips with 20 second intervals and stirred in between with a chopstick and it worked out nicely!

Problem 3: I thought it would be difficult to dip the bananas in a bowl so I heated the chocolate up in a mug for easier dipping!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the best part of this yummy snack? They’re covered with chopped almonds! I was SO delighted when I found out the school grocery store (which has been re-done over the summer to look like a miniature version of Whole Foods) has unsalted mixed nuts. Over the summer, I had become heavily dependent on Costco’s deluxe unsalted mixed nuts for snacking and felt devastated that I wouldn’t have them at school. I immediately bought a whole bag of nuts as soon as I found out we had them!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

FROZEN CHOCOLATE-COVERED BANANAS
makes 4

Ingredients
2 bananas
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds (or other nuts), crushed
4 popsicle sticks (or wooden chopsticks)

Directions

Peel bananas completely and cut in half.

Put a popsicle stick through each banana half. Freeze for 1-2 hours.

Melt chocolate using a chocolate-melter. If using a microwave, microwave for 15-20 second intervals, and stir chocolate in between so you don’t overheat it. For convenience, heat it up in a cup or mug.

Take bananas out of freezer and dip in the chocolate and then the crushed nuts. Make sure to cover with nuts immediately after dipping because the chocolate freezes quickly.

Place bananas back in freezer for 1 hour and then enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Avocado and Tomato Grilled Cheese

Food trucks are awesome because they are usually fast, cheap, and convenient. Earlier this week, several food trucks came to our school to serve food at a carnival-like event we had for the freshmen. My friends and I all happened to order the same sandwich, an avocado and bacon grilled cheese. Although the wait was exceedingly long, the sandwich was absolutely delicious. Putting avocados in a grilled cheese sandwich…ingenious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made a much healthier variation of that amazing grilled cheese sandwich by replacing the bacon with tomatoes and using whole wheat bread. It tasted even better! It was less salty (because there was no bacon) and the tomatoes gave it a burst of freshness. The way the melted cheese and avocado blend together is an unparalleled combination.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made the sandwich using a pan, which heated the sandwich perfectly so that the outer bread layers were well toasted and the cheese was just melted. The heat didn’t get to the avocado or tomato so they still tasted fresh and uncooked. This sandwich takes only 10-15 minutes to make in total so it is definitely a great option for making lunch in the dorms!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

AVOCADO AND TOMATO GRILLED CHEESE

Ingredients
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 tsp olive oil
2 slices American cheese
1/2 tomato, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced

Directions

Brush olive oil on one side of each slice of bread.

Lay oiled side of a slice of bread face down. Layer cheese, tomato, avocado, cheese, and other slice of bread with oiled side up.

Heat pan to medium heat and place sandwich on it. After 2 minutes, flip it over and wait another 2 minutes. The bread should be toasted brown and the cheese should be melted when it is done.

Nutella Mug Cake

No oven? No problem!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sadly, the kitchen in our college dorm suite does not have a conventional oven. Although we won’t be able to bake cakes, we can still make mug cakes!!! Mug cakes are a college classic since they are a super quick, one serving snack or dessert. This was my first time making one so I was skeptical yet fascinated at the same time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These Nutella mug cakes were dessert after the home-made dinner my suitemates and I had (Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas). It was our first time sitting at our small dining table and eating a proper, home-made meal. It took about 2 hours to make the guacamole, quesadillas, and mug cakes and probably less than 20 minutes to eat it all! Still, it was worth it. The four of us agreed that we should try to cook dinner like that every Sunday night, a good way to start off each new week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mug cakes turned out interesting…They were so rich that none of us could finish a whole mug cake in one sitting. The hard part about cooking them in a microwave is that they don’t get heated evenly so some areas were more cooked than others. Overall, it was impressive for a 4 ingredient dessert using a microwave, although not the same as a regular cake of course. Nonetheless, I’ll definitely be making more mug cakes in the future!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

NUTELLA MUG CAKE

Ingredients
4 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Nutella
3 tbsp milk

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a mug and mix with a fork until evenly blended.

Cook in microwave for 80 seconds. The top should look done but if still wet, microwave for another 15 seconds. Use a toothpick to test whether cake is still gooey on the inside. Let cool in mug completely before eating so that it sets.

adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings

Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

Orientation week has been crazy with moving in, helping freshmen move in, seeing everyone after an entire summer, and running around campus performing various errands. This year, I’m living in a 4-person suite with my 3 closest friends Margaret, Ting, and Jeana. We were soo excited to move into our awesome suite which has 4 single rooms, 2 bathrooms, a common room, and a kitchen! The kitchen is small but has a full refrigerator, 2 stoves, and our own microwave and toaster oven. Since we don’t have a conventional oven, our options for cooking and baking is a bit limited. Here is what our kitchen looks like!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the past week, we’ve been eating out almost every meal at restaurants that we’ve missed over the summer. Today we went grocery shopping so that we could finally make a home-cooked meal. For dinner, I made chicken and spinach quesadillas, a combination I’ve never tried before. One problem though was that the only type of chicken I could find was sliced chicken prepared as cold cuts. I searched in 2 grocery stores, but nowhere was there to be found pre-made chunks of chicken! Taking a leap of faith, I used the cold cuts which actually turned out to be pretty good.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I realized that one of the hardest parts of cooking in college is getting all the ingredients. You start out with nothing and have to go shopping for so many items that it takes multiple trips to get enough ingredients. Quesadillas are on the easier side and are great for lunch and dinner considering there is little to no cutting involved and all the ingredients are pre-prepared. They are definitely a good meal for college students with limited resources or cooking ability to make. For healthier quesadillas, use whole wheat tortillas instead of flour tortillas!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hooray for my first home-made college meal! 😀

CHICKEN AND SPINACH QUESADILLAS
serves 1

Ingredients
Olive oil
1 whole wheat flour tortilla
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup spinach
2 slices of cold cut chicken (use chunks of chicken breast if possible)

Directions

Heat a frying pan to medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around with a spatula.

Place tortilla in frying pan and flip several times, with 15 seconds in between each flip. Once air pockets begin to form, flatten them with the spatula to let out the air. Sprinkle shredded cheese on one side of the tortilla.

Reduce the heat to low. Top cheese with spinach leaves. Break the cold cut chicken into small pieces and place on top of spinach.

Using the spatula, fold one side of the tortilla on top of the side with filling. Press down on the quesadilla with spatula to flatten and keep in place. Flip over the quesadilla. It should be ready when it is browned.

Cut in half and serve with guacamole (see Amazing Guacamole recipe).

Summer Berry Trifle

My summer officially comes to an end in 12 hours, when I board the plane back to school. Three and a half months full of cooking, working, reading, and seeing friends could not have gone by faster. I am super excited to return to school and see all my friends, but at the same time it’s tough to let go of the carefree days of warm weather and no stress. So to conclude this summer with a bang, I am posting a special treat…a summer berry trifle!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trifles are breathtaking – they look beautiful in their elegant glass containers, standing proudly with a multitude of layers. Aesthetically, these layers of fruit, cream, and cake all blend together amazingly (not to mention the fusion tastes even better). You can make out the different layers but they meld into each other so it’s hard to tell where a layer starts and ends. Basically, a trifle is a bunch of blurred lines (summer song reference anyone?)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Assembling the trifle is so much fun because you get to see how 3 simple ingredients slowly build up into a gorgeous masterpiece. I had leftover ingredients from the trifle so I made mini ones! They are so cute and would definitely be an awesome treat if you’re only serving several people.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The task of making my own trifle seemed daunting, but it is actually quite simple. There are 3 parts – the cake, cream, and fruit. For the cake I used store-bought pound cake. The cream was a heavenly mixture of homemade whipped cream and pudding. For the fruit, I used freshly chopped strawberries and blueberries. Yum!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So that’s all for my summer recipes! Now it is time to head back to college and see if I can make magic in a college dorm kitchen. My mom and I just shipped 2 boxes full of cooking utensils to my dorm so soon enough, we’ll find out if I can make this year’s college dining experience not so average. 😉

SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 package of instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
1 pound cake (9 in.), cut into cubes
3 cups strawberries, cut in halves
2 cups blueberries

Directions

Use an electric mixer to beat heavy cream until stiff peaks are about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Prepare pudding with milk according to instructions. Fold in half of pudding mixture into whipped cream until blended. Set aside.

In a trifle bowl, layer cubes of pound cake, cream mixture, and berries. Repeat layers.

Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.

Creamy Avocado Gazpacho

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a non-dessert recipe. Desserts are so much more fun to make, eat, and photograph. Also, there isn’t a hungry family waiting for you to finish taking photos so they can finally eat! I managed to snap a few photos of this lovely soup before my family got too hungry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sometimes in the summer, it can be too hot for warm, cooked food. Sometimes, you just need a nice chilled soup to cool off from the unrelenting sun. Gazpacho is a delicious cold Spanish soup made from tomatoes and other vegetables. This version of gazpacho has avocado (yay!) and plenty of other healthy green vegetables.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leafy greens are super healthy  and the darker the green, the better it is for you. Spinach is great because it has lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate. These are good for reducing risk of arthritis, cardiovascular disease and even memory loss!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This creamy gazpacho is an excellent way to eat a lot of vegetables in just one serving. It is rich and flavorful because of the variety of ingredients in it. It is a very quick recipe – all you gotta do is just toss everything into the blender!

CREAMY AVOCADO GAZPACHO
serves 2

Ingredients 
1 medium tomato, cut into quarters
1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
1 avocado, cut into chunks
3 large basil leaves
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 small celery stalk
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 ice cubes
Salt and pepper

Directions

Chop up tomato, cucumber and avocado, and set aside some small chunks for garnish.

Combine tomato, cucumber, avocado, basil, spinach, celery, garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, and ice cubes in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Taste and season with salt, pepper, and additional red wine vinegar if necessary.

Refrigerate until chilled and garnish with chunks.

adapted from Epicurious

Rustic Fruit Tart (Galette)

Can you believe it is already the end of August? I feel like I just returned home and now I am already packing my suitcases again. Summer is quickly coming to an end and I still have so many recipes on my “To make” list!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made this tart for a dinner at a family friend, Linda’s house last Friday. Since I had to work that day, I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to make it. So the night before, I made the dough for the crust and chopped up the fruits.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next day, I rushed back home after work and went straight for the refrigerator so I could get my dough. I rolled it out very thin and arranged the fruits in a pretty pattern.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The most challenging step (which really is not that challenging) was folding the crust onto the fruits without breaking it. Thankfully, my mom was there to assist with her expert dumpling folding skills! After that, I brushed the crust with egg and sprinkled sugar on it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just 30 minutes of oven-time later, I had a spectacular galette! Just in time for the dinner!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This beautiful fruit tart with a free-form crust is an iconic summer dessert. It is technically called a galette, which is a French dessert. It is literally overflowing with fresh nectarines, strawberries, and blueberries. The best part was how easy it was to make. The ingredients are simple and there are not many steps.

RUSTIC FRUIT TART (GALETTE)

Ingredients

Filling
2 nectarines, sliced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup ice water
1 egg (for egg wash)
additional sugar for sprinkling

Directions

Filling: Mix fruits together in a medium bowl. Coat well with sugar and vanilla. Set aside and allow mixture to soak.

Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add in the cubes of butter and mix until roughly blended.
Add ice water and stir with a fork until mixture becomes dough-like. Knead dough so it comes together. Shape into a ball and flatten. Wrap with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a thin 12-inch circle. Transfer to baking sheet.

Arrange fruits onto center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border on the outside. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit carefully, making sure not to break it.

Brush crust with beaten egg and sprinkle additional sugar on it. Bake for 25-35 minutes (or until crust is golden brown).

Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature!

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction