Category Archives: Recipes

Spicy Garlic Quick Pickle Recipe

Since I wasn’t able to do a tutorial last time, I felt the least I can do is give you folks two – two recipes! A hah hah hah!

You may have noticed that I got rid of the spicy mac and cheese a while back because it got a little ridiculous on retrospect and I plan to revisit that recipe at some point anyhow. While I love baking, now and again I will make savory stuff and this is just another to add to my repertoire here. (As you guessed, my next recipe on queue will be back to baking, as well as tips on how I add/substitute ingredients like a mad scientist).

My mom and I got really into quick pickles last summer when a local patron from my home library/Saturday/on-call weeknights job had extra cucumbers and gave some to the staff to share. He grows HUGE vegetables and they are always delicious, so my mom and I always look forward to when his next crop comes in. When it comes to cucs, it means lots of quick pickles for lunchtime!

Momma does her’s pretty straightforward and of course is just as delicious; if you’re not big on spice or garlic (or cucumber skins, which are good for you by the way) you can omit those from this recipe and skin the cucumbers, and you basically have her version. Either way, be sure to make at least 4 servings of this stuff because they’re pretty addicting and will go fast.


In the words of Nick’s friend and pickle connoisseur Nikki, “This is how you pickle!”


Spicy Garlic Quick Pickles (makes about 20 slices)

  • 1 large cucumber (don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on pickling cucumbers like Kirbies, but organic/homegrown does make a difference in moisture and flavor)
  • 1 tsp ground garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp turbinado/raw organic sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  1. Wash and cut the cucumber into 1/8″ slices. If the cucumber is thick, you can cut it in half before slicing. Leaving the skins on will keep its crunch while it brines, besides it being tasty. Put the slices in a sealable container at least 2 inches tall and set aside.
  2. In a separate cup, stir in the garlic powder, pepper flakes, sugar, and salt. Put in the hot water and stir until incorporated (I used about 3 tablespoons but this doesn’t need to be exact; you just need enough to melt everything.)
  3. Stir in the vinegar and pour the mixture over the cucumber slices. Refrigerate overnight or for a more robust flavor (and a lot of patience), at least 4 days. These will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks, but they never stayed long enough past that anyway so they very well could keep for longer.

Perfect for cold cut sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, or even by itself as a yummy summer side! Maybe in ice cream, if you’ve got those pregnancy munchies, I won’t stop you! These could also be chopped and stirred in mayonnaise for a special homemade tartar sauce for your fish and chips, mmm.

Happy pickling!


Delicious Winter Chili (and some epic choco-chip cookies!)

Happy 2017, everyone! I hope your holiday season was well too. Since I bake/cook more often for holiday potlucks and my annual cookie run, I decided to also post one of my recipes I made recently for it! My friends at Otaku Recipes featured my beloved chocolate chip cookies (I was a previous collaborator).

Click for the cookie recipe! (Thanks Kar for the photo!)

Lately I’ve been putting together a recipe box featuring the best of my recipes, as well as family recipes from my mom and my grandmothers. I used the cards from here but next time I plan to enlarge them, since they kind of run small.


Magic is in this box :)…

Now finally, onto the dang chili!

Delicious Winter Chili (4-qt. slow cooker)

Yield: 10 to 12 people


  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 (15.5 oz.) cans red or kidney beans, washed and drained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 large red peppers, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup beer (use whatever you like to drink)
  • 2 hot chili peppers, deseeded and chopped (depending on the crowd I use jalapeños or habaneros)
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp. ground sage
  • 3/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Put all ingredients except the ground beef in the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the beef until cooked. Drain the fat and add the beef to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  3. Cover the slow cooker and set on LOW for 5 to 6 hours, or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Do not lift the cover! 
  4. Serve warm with cheese, rice, and/or tortilla chips, eggs, etc!
Gosh, I can just smell it from here.

What are your favorite things to cook or bake in winter?

Chinese Almond Cookies

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Slowpoke News much) As mentioned from my red velvet cake recipe post, here are the Chinese almond cookies I did the week earlier at the potluck at work. They were fun to make and were nice and nutty, just like I remembered them as a kid!

chinese almond cookies
Assembling the cookie army!


chinese almond cookies 2

Chinese Almond Cookies (adapted from AllRecipes)

Yield: about 24 cookies


  • 1 ½ sticks butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
    (or ½ cup granulated and ¼ cup raw/turbinado (like Sugar in the Raw®)
    for a slight crunch)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons almond extract
  • About 30 whole, blanched almonds; one for each cookie
  • Canola oil for brushing

    1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and egg until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix. When halfway combined, add the almond extract, and mix until it comes into dough (will be a little flaky; shouldn’t be too wet).

    2. Form the dough into a ball, and wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill down the butter.

    3. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Take a teaspoon of the dough and roll the piece into a ball. Place on a lightly greased cookie tray, approximately 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten each ball on the tray with the palm of your hand so that it’s about ¼ inch thick. (You can also flatten with a glass cup, just flour the bottom to prevent sticking.) Place an almond in the center of each cookie and press down lightly.

    4. Brush each cookie lightly with the canola oil before baking. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until they start turning golden brown at the edges or an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the cookies feel slightly crunchy. Cool and store in a sealed container up to a week.

*After you put the first batch in the oven, chill the remaining dough immediately so it stays cool. Take out again and repeat the cookie process when you’re ready to make the additional batch(es).

Old-Fashioned Red Velvet Cake with Orange Creamsicle Glaze

There was a big week-long potluck at work this week, since Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day were fairly close to each other this year and we had a feeling a lot of us would want to make something to celebrate. I volunteered to do something for both holidays, but this post will just be for what I did for Valentine’s Day. For Chinese New Year, I did Chinese almond cookies, which you can find here.

Oddly, red velvet is not my favorite type of cake. The crazy anime-hair red doesn’t even bother me, it’s just that I find most don’t have enough chocolate in it, or none at all. I also don’t like how a lot of recipes from scratch call for a literal bottle of food dye. I’m fine with food dyes, but from past experience red leaves an awful bitter taste if too much is used. (The notorious one is black though. I’m still convinced my friends spared my feelings from my Super Smash Bros. cupcakes last year.)

So on my journeys to find a red velvet recipe that actually has good bittersweet chocolate flavor but is still red, I heard of the old-fashioned method of using beets. I never grew up eating beets, and only started eating them a few years ago so now I love them. I also saw a yummy cream cheese frosting recipe using candied orange peel, and I just HAD to make it with this cake.

I’m so glad I did, because my coworkers pretty much told me I found my second career XD.

The only thing with red food dye here are the sprinkles in the middle for decoration, but that’s totally optional.

Old-Fashioned Red Velvet Cake
(adapted from With A Spin’s Natural Red Velvet Cupcakes)

makes a 2-layer 8-inch cake

– 2 medium beets for 1 cup puree
– ¼ cup water, set aside for 1 cup puree
– 2 teaspoons white vinegar
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup vegetable oil
– ¾ cup granulated sugar
– 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
– ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons milk
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To make the beet puree:
1. Scrub and wash beets before putting in medium saucepan, filled with enough water
to cover. Put in vinegar and stir. Boil on medium heat until soft, about 45 minutes
to 1 hour.

2. Let beets cool before peeling. Chop into 1 inch pieces and put in blender to puree.
If the mixture is too thick for the blades, slowly put in water to loosen it up (should be
thick like yogurt). Pour into container and put in the fridge for 1 hour.

To make the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans, and set aside.

2. Sift and combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate medium bowl, cream together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs, mixing
one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Stir to combine.

3. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the milk
before combining the remaining flour mixture. Fold 1 cup beet puree into the batter,
and pour into cake pans, filling halfway.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. While it’s
baking, prepare the orange creamsicle glaze for the filling and top. Store in the fridge
immediately after to set up.

Red and au-natural!

For the orange creamsicle glaze, I followed AllRecipes’ Basic Cream Cheese Frosting, halving the recipe to make 1 cup of glaze and added 1 teaspoon of candied orange peel.

I’m so excited about how this recipe turned out that I will definitely make it again in the future! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Raspberry Mini Donuts

There was a dessert potluck at work last week, and these little donuts were a massive hit! I plan to revise this recipe as well though, since many of the ingredients I used where on a whim as quick substitutes (pantry basics were kind of absent that day, oops!). But in the mean time I’m more than happy to put in my recommendations if you’re not feeling super adventurous.

Assembling the army!

By the way, a donut pan (I used a mini here) is the best investment you will ever make when it comes to donuts. So much easier! Donut pans can be found at most major arts and crafts stores like Michael’s, JoAnns, etc., for around $8. Use a coupon and get two like I did, and you’ll be cranking out little treasures in a snap.

The recipe below is for the batter only; I used a chocolate raspberry ganache that I made earlier in the month for a different recipe, so I used the remainder for these (I followed that one straightforward so it’s not my recipe but I will link it here). Any other frosting/glaze or powdered sugar will do just fine for the donuts here though, but I love the tangy sweetness of the raspberry. Reminds me of those chocolate-covered jello ring candies!


Chocolate Raspberry Mini Donuts – yield 5 dozen
(the following is the batter only; ganache can be found here)

  • 1 chocolate cake box mix
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (plus extra for consistency)
  • 2 tbsp strong coffee
  • **I used substitutes since I had no eggs and didn’t want to make them dense with oil. If you happen to have your pantry stocked properly (unlike myself that day!), follow the measurements from the boxed cake instead but put one less egg.
  • 1 cup raspberry ganache, see recipe
  • autumn-colored sprinkles for decoration
  • **powdered sugar or any other type of glaze can also be used instead
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix all of your ingredients minus the ganache and sprinkles together. The batter should be thick but spreadable enough if squeezed through a piping bag. Pour in more milk so it comes together well, but in case you put too much and it’s too wet, put in 1/2 tsp of flour and unsweetened cocoa powder each, until it comes together again.
  3. Spoon batter into a piping bag or a large Ziploc bag with the corner cut out. Butter your donut pans and pipe the batter in halfway. Bake the donuts for 5-7 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let donuts cool for about a minute and place them onto a tray for decorating.
  4. To decorate, dip one side of the donut into the ganache and pour sprinkles while still wet. The ganache will harden in room temperature but to speed things up, placing the donuts in the freezer with a parchment or dried wax paper on top is fine too. (If you’re using a different glaze or powdered sugar, you can decorate accordingly.)

I made delicious 2-ingredient pumpkin donuts for Halloween as my first trial with these pans, and I was hooked! Between that and these donuts, I look forward to making more – maybe even for the holidays!