Apple Cider Donuts


It’s starting to feel a little more like fall, my favorite season! Unfortunately in Madison fall only lasts for, like, a month, so gotta take advantage of it while it’s here. I love that the weather gets cooler, that the leaves change color, and that it’s apple season! Super not into all the over-hyped pumpkin spice stuff (except for a certain someone’s pumpkin white chocolate chip cookies) but I love apples, apple pie, apple crisp, apple cider (both cold and hot), and apple cider donuts!

I was first introduced to apple cider donuts when I was in college. Every October one Friday was declared to be Mountain Day, classes were canceled and we all climbed up Mount Greylock, drank apple cider, ate apple cider donuts, and listened to various a cappella perform. It was definitely one of the most fun, memorable experiences of college.

When I moved out to Madison I got excited when I saw some apple cider donuts at the local grocery store. But unfortunately those ones were not nearly as good as the ones from Mountain Day (they tasted like they were made using those powdered hot apple cider packets… gross!). So with the help of Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction, some sisters from my family group and I made some on our own.

We tripled Sally’s recipe and followed the directions pretty much to a T with one exception – instead of dipping the donuts in melted butter, we put them directly in the cinnamon/sugar mixture… which makes them healthier right?ūüėČ

The result was pretty delicious (especially given that they’re baked and not fried). Super flavorful, moist, and fluffy. Definitely the best apple cider donuts I’ve had in a while. As one of my friends often says (she’s a huuuuuge Sally’s Baking Addiction fan), “Sally’s done it again!”

Totoro cake and cooking adventures



It’s only been a little over a month since my last post! I’d say that’s pretty good for me =)

I don’t know if this counts though since I’m not really going to post any recipes. But I had a bunch of pictures on my phone so I figured I’d post them.

The top picture is from my friend’s birthday. She loves Totoro, so I thought I’d try to make a Totoro cake. I’m really not very good at baking though so I was pretty¬†nervous. I found this video and recipe¬†so thought I’d give it a try but at the last minute I decided I didn’t want to attempt making the blueberry lemon cake, so I went with Funfetti instead. I mean, who doesn’t love Funfetti cake? I used plain buttercream for the stomach and eyes, the blueberry frosting recipe from the link for the rest of the body, and plain black frosting for the eyes and v’s on the stomach.¬†I also had a couple friends help me with baking the cake, making the frosting, shaping the cake, and decorating the cake. So really I didn’t do a whole lot.

The bottom panel of pictures is from a cooking competition my church had between the family groups. Each group had to use chicken, kale, and strawberries to make an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Technically we only needed to use one of the ingredients in each course, but I thought a) it would be more interesting and b) our team would would get more creativity points if we used all three ingredients in all three courses.

Our group split into three team, one for each course. For the appetizer we made mini chicken tacos with shredded kale, cheese, and a strawberry salsa. For the entree we made Hmong stuffed chicken wings – that is, de-boned chicken wings stuffed with ground pork, rice vermicelli noodles, shredded carrots, onion, Hmong/Thai peppers, and kale (this was a substitute for cabbage), seasoned with salt, pepper, and oyster sauce. This was served over a bed of garlic/cilantro rice with a side of sweet and spicy Hmong pepper sauce (traditional Hmong pepper sauce (Hmong/Thai peppers, cilantro, green onions, fish sauce, lime) with pureed strawberries). And finally, for dessert we made chicken and buttermilk waffle cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting topped with a popcorn chicken and maple glazed kale chip garnish. All in all I thought our team did a really good job with everything and even though we didn’t win the competition, we had a ton of fun cooking together.

Anyway, I don’t have much else to say. So I’ll end it with the rest of the¬†random pictures from the cooking competition that I had on my phone.

Vegan Stuffed Peppers


I¬†feel like every time I start a new post it begins with something like “so…. I haven’t posted in a while…”. This time it’s been over 7 months… so… I haven’t posted in a while. As usual, it’s not that I haven’t been cooking, but more so that I’m lazy and a) don’t measure anything which makes writing a recipe fairly difficult, b) don’t make things that look nice enough to take a picture, and c) forget to take pictures. This time (a) and (b) are still true and while I did take a picture, it’s a fairly crappy iPhone picture so (c) is pretty much true too (forgot to bring the DSLR). I figured I was due for a post though, so here it is.

The husband and I recently decided to go to Haiti this year with a team from our church. One thing the team decided to do to help fundraise this year was to make a steak dinner for people at church. It was quite the event – over the course of one night we fed ~80 people a three-course meal from salad and bread, to steak (or chicken) and mashed potatoes, to five different dessert options.

I love steak. If you’ve never had steak prepared in a sous vide cooker you really should give it a try.¬†Sadly I, and several others, did not partake in the steak deliciousness due to various forms of fasting for lent. So I was in charge of making an alternative option. After perusing the internet for “vegan main dishes” I settled on stuffed peppers – mostly because they had the highest presentation potential.

Most recipes for stuffed peppers include rice and cheese but some folks were doing more restrictive fasts, so rice and cheese were out. I’d never made stuffed peppers before and was a little nervous that they’d be disastrous, so I decided to do a test run the day before. It turned out ok, but I’m glad I did the test run because I was able to make some adjustments before the actual dinner.

Some things I learned:

  • Pick peppers with the flattest bottoms you can find.Otherwise they might tip over.
  • If the peppers are not able to stand up by themselves, they can be baked in muffin tins. For presentation purposes this isn’t ideal because the muffin tin will leave a ring around the outside of the pepper.
  • Most recipes will say to bake for 45min-1 hour. If all the ingredients inside the pepper are fully cooked it really only takes ~25-30 min to soften the pepper.
  • When using naturally sweet vegetables like red peppers, sweet potatoes, and corn, extra seasoning is needed to offset the sweetness.

I’m not going to post a complete recipe because as I mentioned earlier I didn’t measure anything. Plus, people have different taste preferences, so the ingredients can be combined in whatever ration one prefers. For the dinner we served the peppers with a side of guacamole, which makes everything better. Here’s how I made my peppers.


  • Red bell peppers (2)
  • Sweet potatoes, diced (1 medium cut into ~1 cm cubes)
  • Frozen sweet corn (1-2 cups)
  • Canned black beans, drained and rinsed (1 can)
  • Tofu, diced finely (1/4 block)
  • Yellow onion, diced finely (~1/4 onion)
  • Tomatoes (1-2, not entirely sure what type they were)
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin

Wash and dry the peppers. Cut the top off (but save it) and clean out the seeds from the inside of the pepper. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut tomatoes into 1/2 inch chunks. Cook over medium heat in a pot. Use a potato masher or fork to mash the tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste and allow to simmer until thickened (20-25 min).

While the tomatoes are simmering, heat olive oil in a frying pan or wok and cook the onions until tender (3-5 min). Add the sweet potatoes and continue to cook until the potatoes soften (8-12 min). Add the tofu,. corn, and black beans and continue to cook for another 3-5 min. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, and cumin (I have no measurements for any of those – my method is to add sparingly and taste as I go).

When the tomatoes have reached the desired consistency (make sure they’re not really watery), add them to the pan and mix thoroughly.

Scoop filling into the peppers and place the top of the pepper on top. I cooked five peppers in a dutch over and three in a muffin tin. For the ones in the muffin tin, I wrapped them in aluminum foil. Bake (wrapped in foil or covered in the case of the dutch oven) for 30 min. Uncover/unwrap, take the tops off, and broil (tops as well) for 3-5 min.

Aloo Gobi


It’s August! Where did the summer go? It seems like summer just started, but it’s already almost over…

Since the wedding, life’s been pretty busy. We went to Boston for a few days to see my parents. We chilled out there, watched fireworks on the fourth, and had a banquet for my parents’ friends. Then we headed to Taipei for a bit to see the husband’s side of the family. Did a lot of eating and had another banquet. I dubbed that the international wedding tour.

We’ve been home for a few weeks now. Life continues to be busy here in Madison. This is pretty much the first Saturday we’ve had to ourselves. So I tried cooking the hubby’s favorite Indian dish.

The first time I heard of aloo gobi was from the movie Bend it Like Beckham. The main character learns from her mother how to make this traditional dish. I watched the movie when I was in high school, but I think it wasn’t until I moved here that I actually tried the dish. It never really sounded appealing to me, but I think I tried it at an Indian buffet place one day and discovered that it was good.

I looked up recipes on the internet and decided on this recipe. I sent the hubby outside to play basketball and made this dish to surprise him. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but used ground cumin, ground ginger, and ground coriander instead of cumin seed, fresh ginger, and fresh coriander. I’m not a fan of chomping down on cumin seeds or chunks of ginger, so I think I made a good choice to use ground instead. Otherwise though I followed the instructions pretty closely. I also got to use our new LeCreuset dutch oven that we got for our wedding.

I didn’t really bother taking a good picture of it. Just snapped a quick picture on my phone. I used a rice cooker to make basmati rice and got some naan at the store which I pan-fried in butter and garlic. It wasn’t the best naan I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t awful. All in all we both enjoyed the meal so I’d recommend this recipe.

Sous Vide Pork Sliders

The plate was tiny, so this picture is a bit of an optical illusion.

The plate was tiny, so this picture is a bit of an optical illusion.

Today my fiance and I went to a church potluck today for the “families” in the church. It’s a little weird in my mind to think of us as a family since we aren’t quite married yet and we certainly don’t have any children (at least not that I know of). I guess we’ll get there soon enough though.

For the potluck, we ventured into the land of sous vide. A good number of years ago a friend of mine told me about the concept and how he was thinking of buying a semi-ghetto build-your-own sous vide machine kit. The idea is that you seal (or vacuum seal) meat with seasoning and cook it in a water bath at a low temperature. This prevents it from getting overcooked. Then you take it out and sear the sides for texture. At that point I thought the method was kind of cool, but thought this friend was pretty nuts to buy a make your own kit.

Fast forward a few years to now. A different friend (although these friends do know each other) has gotten into a sous vide craze. It’s great for cooking meat and for cooking things in large quantities. Today was my first time doing it by myself. I don’t really know where I got the idea for asian style sliders, and as usual I ended up just winging it. So I’ll go into what went into it, but I don’t have any measurements.

So what I did was marinate pork tenderloins overnight in gallon size ziplock bags. I put them in a pot with water and the sous vide cooker at 140 degrees (F) for around 3.5 hours. Then I seared the outside. To make the sliders I used King’s Hawaiian Roll and topped with some Asian-style slaw made with cabbage, carrots, green onions, and some seasoning.

They turned out pretty well. The pork was really tender and the flavors paired well with the sweetness of the Hawaiian rolls. Overall I’d call this one a success!

Pork tenderloin marinade:
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Minced garlic
Brown sugar
Rice vinegar
Red pepper flakes

Shredded cabbage
Shredded carrots
Finely chopped green onions
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Rice vinegar
Minced garlic
Sriracha sauce

Spaghetti Burgers


So the other day I was surfing the internet when I saw this article about spaghetti burgers. I was intrigued by the concept, but thought it was just a carb overload. Spaghetti on bread? I was skeptical.

And then I had an idea. What if the spaghetti was the bun? And what if the burger was a meatball? So of course I had to try that.

I finally was able to find some time and grab a couple friends to experiment. The article mentioned the ingredients that were in the spaghetti “patty” but it didn’t say what the proportions were. Here’s what I ended up with:

For the “buns”:
1 box spaghetti
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
Garlic powder
1 cup grated pecorino romano
2 eggs, beaten

For the “burgers”:
All the ingredients from this recipe from

In a pot, heat crushed tomatoes and tomato paste with oregano, salt, sugar and garlic powder to taste. Simmer for 20 min.

While the sauce is simmering, cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain and cut into small pieces with kitchen scissors. Add around 1/2 cup of sauce (the noodles should be covered but not too wet), the pecorino cheese, and the eggs to the spaghetti. Using a small pyrex dish or a ramekin, press the spaghetti mixture to about 1 cm thickness. Place on a cookie sheet. Continue until you run out of the spaghetti mixture. Put cookie sheet in refrigerator for 10-15 min. You should be able to make around 14-16 buns (7-8 burgers).

Combine all the ingredients from the meatball recipe in a large bowl. Form 7-8 patties. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take the spaghetti buns out of the refrigerator. Heat oil in a frying pan or cast iron pan. Fry the spaghetti buns over medium heat for 4-5 min on each side or until crispy.

Sear the meatball patties for about 1 min of each side. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes.

Serve with extra sauce.

Overall the experiment was quite good and we had a lot of fun cooking. The spaghetti buns didn’t solidify/stay together too well so we ended up having to eat with a fork. Perhaps next time I’ll try baking them instead. Or maybe bake them in muffin pans and make meatball sliders instead. But all in all it tasted really good!

Baked French Toast


2 posts in one month! Haven’t done that in a long time.

This past weekend was pretty busy and eventful. It was fun, but also tiring. I have retreats the next two weekends, so the next couple weeks will be equally if not more exhausting. Saturday started off with a brunch for the non-undergrad women at my church. My roommate and I “hosted” (albeit at someone else’s house), so we made lots of food including the french toast from this post, scrambled eggs with cheddar and spinach, and hashtagbrowns (aka #browns). We also played some get-to-know you Bingo which revealed the “beliebers” among us as well as the die-hard T-Swift fans, and made cute bookmarks.

Yesterday I played basketball and badminton for the first time in months. It was really fun and it was nice to get some exercise, but man I am SORE today. My roommate and I hosted Sunday dinner last night, although I didn’t actually help cook. As many of you know, my church has hangouts on Sundays that involve sports and dinner. We started out a few years ago with just a handful of young adults (like, 15), and last night we had 49 young adults and undergrads! We are looking to find a new venue though since 49 people in an apartment is just a teensy bit cramped.

There were a few other things that happened this weekend, but those were the highlights. A few people at brunch asked me for the recipe for the french toast, so I figured it was worth putting up here. It’s funny because my pastor’s wife actually sent this recipe from Rachel Sheldon’s blog almost 2 years ago for a baby shower. She was at the brunch on Saturday and didn’t recognize it!

I ended up making a few adjustments, but all in all the recipe was really good!

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 loaf Texas Toast
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix melted butter and brown sugar.
Spread 1/2 of the butter/brown sugar on the bottom of a 9×13 pan
Layer Texas toast slices on top of that.
Spread the other 1/2 of the butter/brown sugar mix on top of the bread slices.
In a separate bowl, beat 4 eggs. Add in milk and vanilla extract.
Pour 1/2 of the eggs mixture on the bread. Sprinkle on a little cinnamon.
Put a second layer of toast.
Pour the rest of the egg mix on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 min, covered.
Remove foil and bake an additional 15 min.

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