Lemon Soy Swordfish with Avocado Butter

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Sounds lovely right? Yeah, it was. Definitely falls in the category of foods that put a smile of contentment on my face after I finish. This was my first time cooking fish. I was nervous. I’m kinda iffy towards fish. I hate fishy fish or questionable textures. But this swordfish was super awesome. And way fast and easy. It’s a great way to look fancy and gourmet with minimal effort. It would probably be bomb with a wasabi greens and cucumber salad. Well without further ado, I bring you…

Lemon Soy Swordfish with Avocado Butter

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Stripped Down Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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Once in a while, when I’m tired and feeling lazy, I want baked goods but I don’t really want to bake. It’s a rare event, but it happens, and when the moment hits, you have to be prepared. Arm yourself with this four ingredient cookie bar. Any self-respecting kitchen should have all of the ingredients on hand at all times. Their simplicity is beautiful. You can taste each ingredient, and they all taste like love. Because of the nature of this minimalist recipe, it’s super easy to increase/reduce the size to fit your needs. I actually quartered it and made a mini batch, but I’m giving you the standard recipe here. You can also add whatever ingredients you have on hand, like nuts or a different flavor of chips. Butterscotch chips would be heavenly. Just in case this is a little too complicated for anyone, I included very thorough step-by-step pictures.

Stripped Down Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Good For Your Soul Smoky Cabbage Soup

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I’ve got a thing for soup. Hot soup, cold soup, light miso soup, hearty meaty soup, I’ve even been known to eat soup for breakfast. However, I’m a firm believer that soup should never come out of a can. It’s way too easy to make. Seriously, please don’t be tempted to open up that can of murky, salty broth with gelatinous noodles and uniform cubes of pink meat product and things that are allegedly vegetables. Just make a pot of soup yourself. It’s well worth the extra effort. So here’s how my soup happened. I bought a head of Chinese cabbage and had no idea what to do with it. I’m burnt out on stir fry and I didn’t have ingredients for a good Chinese chicken salad. I actually didn’t even feel like making anything Asian with my cabbage. So I concocted this soup. It’s smoky and hearty and delicious.

Smoky Cabbage Soup

Food Truck Friday: Sky’s Gourmet Tacos

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“Southwest Meets Louisiana”

In honor of National Taco Day falling on a Taco Tuesday, Food Truck Friday had to come early. Today’s blog post is about tacos. I consider myself to be a taco connoisseur—a taconnoisseur, if you will. I’m also sort of a purist when it comes to tacos. I’m skeptical of anything deviating from the little street taco. Nothing beats a fresh corn tortilla filled with chopped up meat, preferably cooked in some rustic fashion, and topped with a sprinkling of diced white onion and cilantro, and maybe a hit of salsa. That’s it. Period. No lettuce, no cheese, and definitely no sour cream. When I saw the Sky truck was advertising “gourmet” tacos, I raised an eyebrow. What are these people going to do to my favorite food? I decided to find out by ordering a couple. Two tacos cost $6, and I got one steak and one chicken. Waiting in line was a really educational experience in itself. I learned that their burritos are served “open faced” and that they’ve been doing it that way for 20 years. I’m not sure why. I feel like filling on top of a flat tortilla doesn’t constitute as a burrito, just a large flour tortilla taco. Maybe someone missed Burrito Rolling 101. I’ll have to experience that one first hand though, I suppose. I also learned that they have a signature “sassy sauce,” which kind of excited me. I love sauce. When I got my tacos, I got really excited because they came with a side of chips. I also love chips. The chips had some seasoning sprinkled on them, kind of like seasoned fries, which was a nice touch. They were cute and small too. Unfortunately, they didn’t taste very fresh. I would have liked them to be hot and a tad greasy. Nevertheless, I ate them all. Now for the serious stuff. Taco time.  These tacos are far from my favorite little street tacos. They’re definitely an American rendition, so I ate them with an open mind, knowing it wouldn’t be fair to compare them. The tacos were topped with finely shredded lettuce and diced tomato (cringe), and the sassy sauce. The sassy sauce was really good. It was sweet and spicy, semi-reminiscent of La Victoria taco sauce but a lot better. I dipped my chips in it, which was bomb. I could eat just chips and sassy sauce for days. The steak was a tad too chewy for my liking, but I really liked the seasoning. It seemed familiar, almost like taco seasoning from a packet, but like the sassy sauce, better than that. The chicken was awesome. Super moist and seasoned like the steak. I usually prefer a beef taco over chicken, but next time I would probably order only chicken. Yes, I said next time. I would definitely order Sky’s tacos again. The lettuce and tomato didn’t even ruin it. I was super satisfied and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. Their tag line, “Mexican food with a splash of “’soul,’” was definitely very apparent in their food and I really appreciated that.

Here’s a song from an up and coming artist. This one is on the new Footloose soundtrack. Her whole album is great.

Food Truck Friday: The Gastrobus’ Pulled Pork Sandwich

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The Gastrobus.

Please excuse the really lame quality of the pictures. I'm currently camera-less so I used my high-tech phone camera.

Every day on campus there are two different food trucks parked during lunch. They draw long lines and smell wonderful. I’ve always avoided them because while living on campus, I had a meal plan, and I didn’t want to pay for food when I could eat in the dining hall. Since this is my first year not having a meal plan, I don’t feel guilty about buying food off of the food trucks. I decided that I will try a new one each week and review what I eat. This is week one of the my food truck adventure, and I chose The Gastrobus. The other option was Krazy BBQ, a Korean BBQ truck, but I was attracted to the bright yellow Gastrobus truck, eye-catching, yet understated, with a lack of graphics and the name written in simple letters. No frills. Their specialty seemed to be sweet potato fries and sandwiches. I went with the Pulled Pork, which was described as including pulled pork (obviously), red onion, aioli, and cilantro. It cost $7. Not bad, not great either. I got my sandwich pretty quickly because I went at the end of the lunch rush when there was no line. And here are my thoughts on it:

The bread was great. A big soft bread roll, slightly sweet and chewy. A perfect vehicle for the filling. The aioli left something to be desired. It tasted mostly like mayonnaise, maybe with a bit of garlic in it. I was hoping for something more flavorful. There was a nice sprinkling of red onion slivers and chopped green leaf lettuce, but the cilantro was not apparent. The pork was really nice. Tender shreds cooked perfectly. It didn’t have much seasoning or any sauce, so it really showcased the pure pork flavor.

The verdict?

It was a good sandwich. Not amazing. Just good. I appreciate its simplicity, but I prefer an explosion of flavor, or at least some kind of intrigue. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t finish it with that contented smile that involuntarily takes over my face when I have something really memorable. Order it once, but not twice.

And since this is the intro to my new blog feature, here’s Intro.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Streusel Bars

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Say that five times fast…I can’t.

Alas, I have come to terms with the fact that it is now fall. Summer is over. Gone. Dunzo. School finally started and the air feels more fall-ish. What better way to ring in the season than by baking with apples? Oh wait, I know a better way. Buying new boots. But we’re not talking about my new boots right now.

My roommate had a bunch of apples and requested an apple dessert. I was more than happy to oblige. I went on a hunt for the perfect apple recipe. As is often the case with me, I didn’t know what I wanted, but at the same time I knew exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want a pie or a turnover. No apple sauce. No muffins or bread or cake either. What is left after all of that, you ask? Well, I have the answer. Caramel Apple Cheesecake Streusel Bars. Oh yes. I said it. Four layers of goodness. One perfect fall bar. People were skeptical at first. I could hardly say the whole name without stuttering, could I really make these, and would they be edible? Silly doubters. Speech impediment aside, I had a really good feeling about these, and I knew they would be all that and a bag of chips. Chips…I just had a thought. I have some apples left. Apple chips coming soon!

Without further ado, I bring you…

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Streusel Bars

Lips’ Quick Tip #3: How To Make People Really Happy With Funfetti Cookies!

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That’s right! You heard me.

Fun. Fetti. Cookies.

Funfetti cake makes people really happy. There’s something about the bright rainbow sprinkle surprises laced through fluffly white cake that instantly makes you giddy with childish joy. Funfetti cookies are like funfetti cake, but even more fun.

If you are hosting a lot of people or need to bring a treat somewhere, bring funfetti cookies. Don’t worry, it’s not cheating just because you didn’t make them totally from scratch. They’re super quick to make, and people will ooohh and aahh over them.

All you need is a box of funfetti cake mix. Follow the often over-looked recipe for cookies, which is on the side panel.

The recipe is as follows: mix together cake mix, oil, and eggs, roll into balls, and bake for about 7 minutes. Let cool, and frost with funfetti frosting. This step is crucial.

Tip: make them super small. People won’t feel guilty about eating them, and you’re less likely to have crumbs and frosting in your carpet afterwards because you can eat them in one or two bites. 

And here’s your song. It’s extremely enjoyable.

Steak Sliders and Broccoli Salad

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Mexican-Asian fusion steak sliders, that is. I recently decided that fusion is a fancy way of saying you can’t make up your mind on what flavors to use, so you add everything and hope it works out. This one worked out quite well.

Before I get into that, I apologize for letting you think I was going to post every day and then taking a 4 (5? I don’t know) day hiatus. I’m realistically probably going to be able to post only once or twice a week : ( I get mega super busy and have to eat a lot of my meals on the go. I do think I’m going to try to start a new section about just that though. Where and what to eat in/around Westwood.

Okay, now back to the good stuff. Really, really good stuff.

Today was another crazy busy day, and I almost opted for a take out or pb&j dinner, but then I was like “No. You can do better than that. Your readers need you! All five of them!” Sorry, kind of presumptuous of me I suppose, but I told myself that so that I would get my butt in gear and cook something. So I went to the grocery store with no game plan. I hate doing that. I end up wandering around aimlessly through the aisles for hours and getting home only to realize that I only bought gum and yogurt. But not today. I threw an assortment of on sale items in my cart, looked down at them, and realized that I had the makings of something spectacular. I got excited. My heart started racing. My pupils dilated. My palms were sweaty. Just kidding. That’s gross.

What I bought was a really thin, cheap cut of steak, a 4 pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls, a broccoli crown, Top Ramen, bacon, arugula, a couple tomatoes (I’ve been obsessed with tomatoes lately), and some pepper jack cheese. And here’s what happened to them.

They became sliders. And broccoli salad.

Liquid Summer, a.k.a. Gazpacho

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Here’s a stupid skit that I just made up.
Cold Soup” by Taylor Liptak
Hey friend! Have some soup!
–Why thank you! Oh, but it’s cold. Mind if I warm it up?
It’s supposed to be cold!
–Whaaattt?? Cold soup?? Blasphemy!
No, no. Not blasphemy. Gazpacho.
–Bless you.
What? No. Gazpacho is a cold soup.
–Gazpacho? You mean that 80’s Puerto Rican boy band?
Uhh no, that’s Menudo…here, just taste it.
–Eww no way I don’t eat pig brains.
First of all, menudo is made of cow stomach, not pig brains. Second, I’m talking
      about this gazpacho. It’s delicious. Eat it.
–Cold soup? Okay fine, but I think you’re full of shi…oh my god! This is wonderful!
     So refreshing! It tastes like…
Liquid summer? Yeah, I know.
–No, I was going to say more like a nice puree of tomato, cucumber, and bell
      pepper, but we’ll go with that.
End.
I’m sensing the beginnings of an Academy Award winning script right there. Scene opens with a girl craving gazpacho. She’s only tried it once, and doesn’t know how to make it. She is unsatisfied with all of the recipes she’s read online, so she makes one up. She invites her friend with a broken jaw to come taste test it. He’s been drinking liquified hot pockets, so he hopefully won’t be too judgmental. Her ego can’t handle too much criticism. She pours some into a crazy straw cup and he drinks it up. She waits anxiously for his reaction, which is hard to gauge because his jaw is wired shut. The verdict? Success! Yaayyy!!! The whole world erupted into applause and the girl lived happily ever after.
Actually, everything from “Scene opens” to “Success! Yaayyy!!!” really did happen.
Okay now, enough shenanigans. Here’s your

Lips’ Quick Tip #2: Oh You Fancy, Huh?

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Whether you’re trying to impress your friends with how classy you are, or you’re just sick of eating mac’n’cheese and hot dogs (I’ve been babysitting a lot…), it’s good to know how to throw together an appetizer/cold cuts plate. I’m talking about a grown-up appetizer plate, not a bag of Fritos and some bean dip (not that there’s anything wrong with Fritos and bean dip…they’re delicious). Last night I was shopping for ingredients for my gazpacho (recipe coming soon to theaters near you now playing here). I had a loaf of french bread, but i wasn’t going to need all of it, so I decided to make a light dinner out of the rest of it. I picked up a little salami from the deli counter, and a handful of cheese fragments. I shop mostly at Ralph’s, and they always have a basket of small wedges of really nice cheeses that typically cost around $1 each. Look for something like this at your grocery store. Nothing says fancy like offering a selection of artisan cheese. Try to get a variety–mild and strong, creamy and hard. I got a manchego, a gouda goat, an applewood cheddar, and something raspberry because it sounded interesting. I also got an extra tomato, because I like to eat all of the food groups. I try to be healthy…

I brought all of this stuff home, cut a few thick slices of the bread, sliced up the tomato and sprinkled it with garlic salt and pepper, and laid out the bread, tomato, salami, and cheese wedges on a big wooden cutting board, along with a little bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It looked way pretty and rustic and stuff.

And there you have it. Instant, classy, inexpensive hor devours. Or, in my case, dinner for one. I don’t share well with others. Just add a bottle of Two Buck Chuck Charles Shaw and pick a classy Pandora station, like Dean Martin or something, pretend you have some manners, and people will think you’re super sophisticated.