From Cupcakes to Traditional Korean Food and Everything in Between

Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole

 

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Guys, this is seriously my very favorite way to enjoy quinoa.  I’ve never been a huge fan of casseroles but one bite of this heavenly cheesy concoction swept that bias away for good.  A classic pairing for this in my house is a cedar plank salmon with its softly smoky undertones really jazzing it up as a fuller meal with the butteriness of the salmon matching nicely with the gobs of oozing cheese.  However, I’ve been known to enjoy a gigantic slab of this casserole on its own without needing anything else.  The quinoa lends a heartiness to the dish while the broccoli provides a punch of green with its crunchy vibrant texture and of course, the cheese just makes everything extra delicious while tying it altogether.  Try it with supper tonight.  You’ll thank me later.

 

 

Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole
 
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Serves: 5 x 7 Casserole
Ingredients
  • ½ c dried quinoa {cooked to a 2:1 ratio}
  • 1 tb unsalted butter
  • 1 tb unbleached flour
  • 1 c warm whole milk
  • 1 c freshly shredded cheese {I used an aged cheddar} with some reserved for topping
  • 1 c chopped broccoli
Instructions
  1. First, rinse and drain the quinoa to wash away the bitter outer shell. You can either cook it on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. For ½ cup of quinoa, I used 1 c chicken stock.
  2. In a pan, melt the butter, low and slow.
  3. Whisk in the flour for 1-2 minutes to draw out the raw flour taste and slowly pour in the milk {you can also use stock}. Bump up the heat to medium and whisk constantly to prevent lumps. As it cooks, it will thicken.
  4. Stir in the cheese and broccoli.
  5. Transfer to a casserole dish, cover with more cheese then foil, and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

2 Ingredient Homemade Lip Balm

 

Chapstick

I have a confession to make.  I am a lip balm addict.  I’m fairly certain it’s psychosomatic for me but nonetheless, the struggle is real.  I shudder when I reflect back on how much money I’ve spent over the years on store bought sticks when I came to the realization a few years back that I could produce my own for mere pennies.  $.20 to be exact.  The best part of this is that it couldn’t be less fussy requiring only the minimalist of materials and you’re just 30 minutes away from all natural homemade lip balm.

 

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
2 Ingredient Homemade Lip Balm
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 part organic beeswax {for example, .50 oz}
  • 2 parts organic coconut oil {for example, 1.00 oz}
  • Optional: essential oils, honey, beet root/hibiscus powder, etc.
Instructions
  1. Use dedicated materials for all the following.
  2. Grate the beeswax.
  3. Melt the wax low and slow in a double boiler or in a heat proof vessel in the microwave. Use a vessel with a spout like a measuring cup. Heat until just melted, no more.
  4. Stir in the oil.
  5. Wait 5-10 seconds to stir in the optional add-ins if using.
  6. Carefully pour into desired containers and allow to set for 30 minutes.
Notes
About .10 oz wax to .20 oz oil yields one tube.
Mine last for about a year when stored in a jar in a dark, cool place.
Steer away from camphor or menthol as they dry out the lips.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

Homemade Butter

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We’re going back to basics today with how to make homemade butter with just one ingredient.  It’s incredibly easy with little effort and what you’re left with is softened butter that’s recipe ready with endless applications.  The best parts are that you can control the quality and quantity and create some really unique butter compounds.  I personally love this homemade butter with salt and rosemary on some of J’s rustic breads or copious amounts of a cinnamon sugar or berry blend on brioche.

 

 

 

5.0 from 6 reviews
Homemade Butter
 
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Serves: ½ lb/8 oz
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1-2 ts ice water
Instructions
  1. If using a jar with a lid, shake the cream vigorously. You will bypass 3 distinctive stages: soft peaks, stiff peaks, then finally, the milk solids separating from the buttermilk. I show you in the video above how I made mine with a food processor {the easier/less elbow grease method}. You can also use a stand/hand mixer or blender as well.
  2. When you reach the final stage, drain it through a fine mesh strainer and push out all the buttermilk* you can. The dryer the better.
  3. Return it back to the jar and add 1-2 ts ice water and shake again until it's fully incorporated.
  4. Wrap in plastic and chill.**
Notes
*The buttermilk left behind is sweeter and isn't of the thick consistency you think of. I like to use mine in pancake/crepe/waffle batters.
**The shelf life of your homemade butter greatly depends on how thoroughly the buttermilk has been extracted which is why the "washing" is important. By chilling well produced butter, you can expect 2-3 weeks out of it whereas if enough buttermilk is left behind, it will spoil within a week. Also, I would recommend keeping your homemade butter chilled or use it immediately after making so it's fresh, softened, and recipe ready.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

Rabokki Recipe Ramen + Tteokbokki 라볶이

 

What is it?

A fiery ruby stew that combines buttery ramen noodles and chewy rice cakes, bubbling in a delicious Korean sauce. It is a quintessential comfort staple for bachelor/rettes in Korea and it really is like a hug and kick all at the same time.

 

 

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Rabokki Recipe Ramen + Tteokbokki 라볶이
 
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Serves: 4 Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 c shrimp stock + 2" piece of kelp
  • 2 tb Korean gochujang red pepper paste
  • ½ tb Korean gochugaru red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tb fish sauce
  • 1 tb brown sugar
  • 1 tb sesame oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 c cabbage, chopped
  • 2 c soaked/drained rice cakes
  • 1 block of ramen
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • S + P to taste
  • Optional: shredded cheese, dried anchovies, fried fish cakes, hardboiled eggs, scallions, sesame seeds, etc.
Instructions
  1. For the stock, bring homemade or good quality seafood/fish/shrimp stock to a simmer with the kelp for about 15-20 minutes. Extract the kelp and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, grind together the pepper paste and flakes, garlic, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  3. In a pan slicked with the sesame oil, gently heat the chopped veggies for a few minutes. You don't want them to get too soft.
  4. Toss in the rice cakes. If using, this is the time to add in the fried fish cakes.
  5. Slowly melt the blended pepper paste into this mixture. Stir until everything is coated.
  6. Slowly pour in the stock and stir well.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Bring the stew to a low and slow bubble. Don't rush it.
  9. Add the noodles and cook until both the noodles and rice cakes are tender.
  10. Garnish with whatever you desire: cheese, soft boiled eggs, scallions, etc.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

Easy Traditional Kimchi + Q & A

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What is kimchi?  Spicy fermented napa cabbage.  It is a living food, preserving the nutrients of the vegetables going into it while self generating other health benefits.  

What is in kimchi?  It primarily consists of cabbage and salt but you can also include Korean radish/mu, scallions, sesame seeds, onions, garlic, ginger, Korean pepper flakes, fish sauce, baby brine shrimp, raw seafood, Asian pears/apples, and so much more depending on the kind of kimchi you want to prepare as different regions also prepare it differently.

What does it taste like?  It is bright, briny, soured, and spicy.  Not exactly, but kind of like a spicy sauerkraut.  There are hundreds of different kinds and each one has its own special characteristics.

How do you serve it?  Kimchi is a side dish that is present for every single Korean meal.  Some people enjoy it like a salad while others enjoy it in a recipe.  You can use well fermented kimchi as a topping for hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza or tacos to more traditional applications like kimchi stew or pancakes.

What are some of its health benefits?  It is high in fiber, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins a, b, c, and calcium and iron while being low in calories and fat.  A well-fermented kimchi has anywhere from 100 million to 1 billion bacteria of genus Lactobacillus.

How long does it last?  My grandmother would have kimchi buried in the ground and some of it would be 2 years old or more.  Film yeast was never a deterrent for her.  My mother has a kimchi refrigerator that is specially climate controlled for preserving kimchi and hers tastes just right for up to 6 months or more.  There are tons of debate on the matter but use your own discretion.  It’s a good practice to regularly turn over the leaves of prepared kimchi and spoon over the juice to re-saturate leaves.  It is after all, a controlled pickling environment.  Over fermented kimchi is definitely an acquired taste and Koreans have a name for each stage the kimchi enters.  Please use your discretion, sight, and smell.

Here are a few other noteworthy tidbits.

  • Health.com listed kimchi as one of the top five healthiest foods in the world.
  • Studies have shown that kimchi has compounds to fight and prevent the growth of cancer.
  • When getting your picture taken in Korea, it’s customary to see “kimchi” instead of “cheese.”
  • Koreans consume around 40 lbs or more of kimchi each year.
  • When the price of napa cabbage rose in 2010, it was considered a ‘national crisis.’
  • Kimchi is so adored in Korea, that they have an entire museum dedicated to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0 from 3 reviews
Easy Traditional Kimchi + Q & A
 
Prep time
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 5 lb napa cabbage
  • ½ c coarse sea salt
  • ¾ c cold filtered water
  • 2 tb sweet/glutinous rice {not regular rice} flour
  • ¾ c Korean red pepper flakes {adjust for less/more spicy}
  • ¼ c fish sauce {or baby brine shrimp or soy sauce}
  • ½ c fresh garlic
  • 1 tb fresh ginger
  • ½ c vidalia onion
  • Half of an Asian pear/fuji apple
  • Extra additions: ½ c each of green onions/carrots/daikon/leeks/Chinese water celery/raw oysters, squid or fish/etc
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl/basin, chop the cabbage in desired pieces, discarding any wilted/brown outer leaves. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.
  2. Allow the cabbage to soak up the salt for an hour ½ to 2 hours, depending on how salty you like it. {I usually take 1½ hours.} It's important to toss and turn over the leaves every 30 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the water and stir in the sweet rice flour until cook until the mixture gets thick, smooth, and milky. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor, add the fish sauce, garlic, ginger, onion, and pear. Pulse to puree.
  5. To the cooled sweet rice flour mixture, stir in the Korean red pepper flakes and pureed mixture. This will be your kimchi paste.
  6. After the cabbage has finished soaking, rinse several times and drain well.
  7. In a large bowl, carefully begin coating the cabbage with your paste. Add in your veggies. Toss to coat, taking care not to squeeze the leaves. If using, this is the time to gently add in your raw seafood.
  8. Mix until everything is nicely coated. Transfer the kimchi to glass containers/bpa free plastic containers and gently press down and seal.
  9. Allow the containers to sit at room temperature for 1-2 days to jumpstart fermentation then refrigerate.

Love,

Your Squishy Monster

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