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Love and Olive Oil Giveaway

Check out this giveaway for some cool notebooks that could be used in a variety of ways!


Farewell Asia Cupcakes

A few weeks back I found a recipe that included an interesting combination of ingredients to say the least: chocolate and wasabi, and since I am departing from a four and a half year stay in Asia, I figured now is a perfect time to give this recipe a whirl as it combines flavors that allow me to reminisce of my stay here. Being that I am a pretty daring eater and will try just about anything at least once, I became very intrigued. The best part was that the combination of ingredients took place in the form of a cupcake. These might actually be my last batch of cupcakes for quite some time, so I took an extra long time to make them. I had a feeling these cupcakes were going to turn out really good or really bad.

I started off by following the recipe exactly as posted since I am still learning the science involved in creating a fantastic cupcake. When I got to the adding wasabi part, I added the one tablespoon like mentioned and tasted nothing. I added one more and still no hint of wasabi. I mean if I was going to experiment with these flavors I wanted it to be known. So I continued to add tablespoon by tablespoon until I looked into my packet of wasabi powder and realized that there was only a little left so I just dumped it all in. Since I made it into a paste first, as a means to kick up the heat, before adding it to the batter, it became a little difficult to mix it all into the batter evenly. So basically all I am saying is watch out when you bite into one of these babies because you might get a mini wasabi ball!

Usually I can’t wait for the smell of a batch of cupcakes to fill up my house, but there is something about the smell of cooking wasabi that is not very desirable. But it could just be that I had my fair share of wasabi as I tasted for heat while preparing the batter… who knows. While they were cooling I prepared the ginger butter cream icing which turned out to be amazing! I couldn’t wait any longer and had to break into one. As they cooled I noticed that all of the cupcakes sunk in the middle and appeared as if someone had put their fist in the center of them. I have never had that happen following any of the recipes from love and olive oil, but I am going to give the credit to the excessive amount of wasabi and the slight level of intoxication that existed while making these. I had plans to bring these to work to share but I am not sure if I can due to their utterly unappetizing appearance. As far as the taste, the first bite was delicious but as I continued to try more of the cupcake the amount of wasabi became a little too much. I agreed to stay away until the morning and try again before sharing with others. When I tried them again in the morning I was pleasantly surprised, I think all of the flavors had time to cool properly and blend together as they tasted delicious with only a trace hint of wasabi. But I do know that somewhere in the middle of my cake, (as I ran out of cupcake liners midway so I put the rest in an 8x8 pan) someone will get a nice little surprise of fire. Happy eating!

Black Pearl Cupcakes
Recipe from:
Makes 12 cupcakes.

1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1-2 tablespoons wasabi powder (to taste)

For Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste
Black sesame seeds, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, and wasabi. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix). Take a quick taste of the batter, and add more wasabi if you feel it is needed.

3. Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

4. For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla, ginger, and cream. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar/cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and enjoy!


Peanut Butter and Jam Cookies

Now that I am married, my husband and I sometimes do things that married people do such as attend “dinner parties.” Tomorrow we are going over to a friend’s house for dinner and my mother taught me never to go to someone’s house empty handed. With that said, it gives me an excuse to bake today. Before I decided on what to bake, I rummaged through my cupboards to see what I could concoct with supplies that we already had, since we are moving in less than 2 weeks so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to go all wild and crazy purchasing fun stuff for the kitchen… besides we are on a budget too as we are preparing for life once again in North America. Somehow the thought of it is just making us broke!

Today’s recipe…Peanut Butter and Jam Cookies. The idea is a combination of a traditional thumbprint cookie and a peanut butter cookie recipe. I followed the peanut butter cookie recipe which happens to be eggless and when they were finished baking I placed a small amount of jam in the center of the cookie before it cooled. I ran out of jam halfway through the recipe so I placed a small square of chocolate in the center. Score.. I used up 4 things in my pantry today making this recipe. Less to throw away next week before the move! I was very impressed with these cookies and I have a feeling that they might be my “signature” cookie for awhile. There is no way one can go wrong with a combination such as peanut butter and jam or even peanut butter and chocolate.

Peanut Butter and Jam Cookies
Recipe from:
Makes: 6 dozen cookies


3c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c. butter, room temp.
1 c. peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. sugar
4 TBS cornstarch
4 TBS water
2/3 c. chocolate chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine cornstarch and water with a fork. Mix well and set aside.
3. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder.
4. Using electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter, and vanilla. Beat in both sugars. Beat in half of dry ingredients into mixture. Add cornstarch and continue mixing. Add the rest of the dry ingredients.
5. Roll into a ball and press down with a fork. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 14 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes,

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Muffins with Streusel Topping

This morning I had to start the day by being the one to “call a meeting” at the beginning of a Thursday morning. Everyone hates starting the day off with a meeting including me. So I thought the least I could do was make everyone feel a little better about being there by baking something sweet. Since it was breakfast time, I decided upon a version of a cupcake meets a muffin. A few weeks ago I had tried a wicked recipe for Sweet Potato cupcakes, but I wanted to make something a little less sweet without the icing. So I invented. I took the base from the cupcake recipe and changed a few things around to get what I called “Pumpkin Sweet Potato Muffins with Streusel Topping.” I added a few raisins and nuts to add a little protein to start off the day on a good note. They turned out pretty darn good, leaving only one complaint: that some of the butter from the topping dripped over the side during the baking process and left the paper wrappers a bit greasy feeling.

“Pumpkin Sweet Potato” Muffins with Streusel Topping

Ingredients for Muffins:
1 cup sweet potato puree (I only use fresh and I used the variety Pumpkin Sweet Potato)
1/4 cup soymilk
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely crushed walnuts
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Streusel Topping:
4 1/2 TBS flour
5 TBS sugar
3 TBS butter
1 tsp cinnamon
3-4 TBS finely chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sweet potato puree, soymilk, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, walnuts, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in raisins.
3. Fill liners with 3 tablespoons batter (cups should be approximately 2/3 full).
4. To make topping: Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle on the top of the muffin batter.
5. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack.


Naan Bread

My Bread making challenge is back and today it is in the form of Naan bread. Yesterday I made hummus and we have all of the ingredients in the cabinet to make curry so I figured Naan bread would be a great match. I found a recipe that seemed pretty fuss free, required a few ingredients and didn't even involve the use of my oven which means that all of my chingoos in Korea who are reading this entry-you too can make this recipe using your fry pan and your gas range!

Instead of using water to activate the yeast, as most bread recipes do, this one used warmed milk. I let the milk and yeast mixture sit for about 10 minutes while I prepared my dry ingredients in a bowl. Once I added the milk to the dry goods, I was impressed at how quickly they all came together and the lack of stickiness in the dough. I turned over the bowl to knead the dough for about 10 minutes or so until it was smooth and elastic. The recipe required the dough to be covered with a damp tea towel but since today is laundry day, I realized a little too late that I didn't have any that were not in the process of being whipped around in my washing machine, so I needed to improvise. Rob came to the rescue by offering a freshly washed and dried white t-shirt. We slightly dampened it and placed it over top of the bowl. Then we allowed it to rise under our bed-which was the only dark place that we could find mid-afternoon. I know both of these things are extremely unconventional and probably violate every cooking law in the book-but I am making do with what I have here. I left my dough to hang out in our bedroom and found myself instantly involved in other mundane Sunday type of activities.

A few hours later, I took the dough out from its nap and divided it into 10 small balls. I rolled each one out into some sort of thin blob shape because I found that trying to create a triangle, as stated in the recipe, was dumb. I have eaten Naan bread a countless number of times and have never seen one in the shape of a triangle so why should I be the one to change that. I brushed each one with water and placed in a buttered skillet and cooked for a few minutes on each side. I added chopped roasted garlic to one side of the bread because Garlic Naan is the next best thing to Mint Naan, which was not practical to make at this time of year since mint is not in season. The bread turned out golden brown and puffy, but a little too greasy for my liking, so I tried with each batch to cut down the amount of butter used to grease the pan, but that still didn't work. Next time I will maybe try to bake them in the oven at a high temperature. But overall they were delicious, especially with hummus and Massaman curry with Korean sweet potatoes.

Now that I mentioned the Korean sweet potatoes I must speak more about a new variety that I have recently been introduced to, Printer nine nights he do, (Ho Dak Sweet Potato), or literally Pumpkin Sweet Potato. It tasted like a bite of Thanksgiving. Recently a friend of mine was eating a kind of sweet potato that looked very unusual for a Korean sweet potato, so I asked her-what is that? She kindly offered me one and I took a bite and was suddenly in love. I ran home and told Rob all about them and he remembered the name and bought me some later that night when he ran out for a beer! I put them in my make shift cold cellar and learned the hard way that these beauties don't like that kind of environment as a few days later they were covered in green furry mold. I was bummed! Today while at the market I saw some and bought a bag. I had intentions of roasting a chicken for supper so I wrapped up a few in foil and cooked them alongside my chicken. As soon as I peeled away the foil and the reddish skin I knew I had purchased the same kind of potatoes that I had last week. I couldn't wait another second and my fork delved right into one. They are so sweet that no sugar needs to be added and they come with their own sweet syrup. Like I said I'm in love!

The Naan Recipe
Recipe from Cooking 4 All Seasons
Makes 10 pieces of bread

3 1 / 2 C all-purpose flour
1 / 2 t salt
1 t instant yeast (It is VERY important that you use instant yeast.)
1 1 / 2 C warm milk - not above 100F 1 t sugar
Butter to taste

1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the milk.
2. Let rest approximately 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast / milk mixture.
3. Mix in the salt.
4. Knead until soft and elastic.
5. Cover with a damp towel and leave in a dark place to rise until doubled, about two hours.
6. Remove the dough from the bowl, degas gently then divide into ten even balls.
7. Roll out into triangles, dusting lightly with flour as needed. I discovered that the thinner you roll it out the better.
8. Heat up a frying pan. (I used a cast iron skillet. I also liberally buttered the skillet.
9. Generously brush one side of the dough with water and begin to cook with that side down on medium heat.
10. Brush the other side with water.
11. The dough should bubble a bit as it cooks. Leave it on the heat for a few minutes, then flip it to cook the other side for a shorter amount of time.
Massaman Curry with Pumpkin Sweet Potatoes
Recipe by: Gretchen Brown
Makes 3-4 servings
1 Massaman Thai curry packet (I use one with 100% natural ingredients such as Nambji)
400 mL coconut milk
2 Pumpkin sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 onion, chopped in chunks
1 TBS oil
2 TBS peanuts
1 TBS lemon juice
1 chicken breast cooked and cubed
1. Heat oil and onion and saute until translucent. Add curry paste and cook for about 1 minute until browned.
2. Add chicken and heat until browned.
3. Slowly stir in coconut milk. Add potatoes and peanuts. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened.
4. Serve with Naan bread or over rice.

Almost Hummus

Ok so lately I have had a serious craving for hummus and since this Middle Eastern treat is nowhere to be found in the country of Korea, the only way to have it is to make it yourself. No problem! I picked up a bag of dried chick peas from the foreign food mart, found a recipe and set to work. I tossed a few handfuls of beans and some water into a bowl Friday night before I went to bed to let them soak in a bath for nearly half a day. Only if I were this lucky to spend half a day in a bath, but that is beside the point. Before I go any further with these directions, I must admit that I had no idea what I was getting myself into as this was my first time working with dried beans!

After about 13 hours I awakened my little chick peas from their super soak, rinsed them off and set them into a pot to simmer in another bath for about 2 hours. I checked on them every once in awhile to see how they were coming along and was convinced that I had purchased the driest batch of chick peas as it took almost 3 hours for them to become soft enough to mash. Once I removed them from the pot and got ready to mash them I suddenly realized that these babies have a skin that needed to be removed before mashing. So I transferred my work from the kitchen to the living room floor and turned on a good movie while I deshelled (not sure if this is even a word but I am going for it) every single one of them. 45 minutes later, I took the bowl back to the kitchen and stood pondering at my recipe wondering how I was going to pull off making this batch of hummus without 2 of the essential ingredients, tahini and a food processor! I figured I would rely on my trusty fork who has become the master of all things possible. I began mashing for about 3 minutes before my hand started to fall asleep and the complaining started. Since my husband is so wonderful, he took over and had the whole job done in about 5 minutes-don't know how he did that! I went back to the kitchen, chopped some fresh parsley and prepared all of the other ingredients. I stirred in some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, sesame seeds and parsley into the mix. The consistency was not exactly what I was going for, but I blame that on the lack of a food processor. Obviously what I made was not exactly hummus because it lacked tahini which is essential for the amazingness (not sure about this word either) of hummus. But all in all it tasted pretty damn close to a substitute for hummus! Now off to make some Naan bread to go with it!

Almost Hummus Recipe
Recipe by: Gretchen Brown
Makes about 2 cups

1.5 cups dried chick peas
2-3 TBS lemon juice
1/4- 1 / 3 cup olive oil
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1 TBS roasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper to season

1. Soak chick peas overnight for 12 hours.
2. Simmer chick peas in water for about 1.5-2 hours until soft.
3. Remove shells from the chick peas.
4. Mash the chick peas and mix in the olive oil and lemon juice. Add more if needed. Mix in parsley, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper.
5. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with warm pita, fresh veggies, and olives.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes

I woke up this on this Thursday morning and thought it is a great day for pancakes, so I prepared the ingredients for a recipe that I have been meaning to try for Betsy DiJulio's Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes! Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a definite hit the spot every time kind of food, so these pancakes sounded like heaven! I have recently become hooked on baking using soy milk, not because I am a vegan or even remotely close, but it gives my treats a nice flavor. As I waited for my vegan like buttermilk to curdle, I prepped the dry ingredients and am not sure if I was more excited about brown sugar being in these pancakes or the peanut butter itself. Once I whisked in the buttermilk and the peanut butter, the batter appeared a little thin. But I decided that since this was the first time I was trying this recipe that I shouldn't try to change it at all, so I just poured the batter as is onto the heated pan. Luckily I didn't add any more dry ingredients because it didn't take long for these hotcakes to fluff up beautifully in the pan. The consistency turned out to be just perfect and the aroma that filled my kitchen was even better! I couldn't wait very long to taste one and was in love before I even finished chewing. These might even be better than peanut butter cookies-not too sweet and not too rich-the perfect blend of flavors. I stacked a few on a plate and topped them with a nice scoop of wild berry jam and a handful of crushed peanuts-just looking at the purplish colored jam on top of the golden brown pancakes made my mouth water. These were totally worth getting up early for!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes
Recipe from The Blooming Platter by Betsy DiJulio
Makes: 6-10 pancakes

1 cup unsweetened soy milk minus 1 tablespoon (plain or vanilla soy milk would be good too)
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
2 scant tablespoons vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/ 2 cup self-rising flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar or raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons natural / organic creamy peanut butter (no sugar added)
Garnish: powdered sugar; jam, jelly or fruit topping of your choice; chopped peanuts
1. In a small cup or bowl , whisk together soy milk and vinegar to make vegan buttermilk.
2. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 scant tablespoon of the butter. 3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together both flours, brown sugar, baking powder and soda. Make a well in the center and add soy milk mixture along with peanut butter. Stir just until combined, peanut butter is incorporated and few lumps remain.
4. Using a 1 / 3 cup measure, make three pancakes (or a 1 / 4 cup measure to make 4 pancakes), spreading ever so slightly just to flatten tops. Cook a minute or two on the first side, gently flip and cook another couple of minutes on the reverse. Avoid overcrowding. If pancakes look like they are going to run together, just cook a couple at a time, and add butter to keep skillet greased as needed. (Note: Bubbles will not appear in this batter indicating doneness as with some pancakes. Instead look for a high rise and nicely set edges.) If pancakes are cooking too quickly, lower heat to medium, especially for second side.
5. When cooked through, remove pancakes to plates or a serving platter, keep warm, and repeat with remaining scant tablespoon of butter and pancake batter.
6. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar; a dollop or drizzle of your favorite jam, jelly or fruit topping; and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts.