Cardamom and Banana Muffins Recipe

Cardamom and Banana Muffins

08.02.13 by Jackie

There's a French idiom "après l'effort, le réconfort", which roughly translates to "after all that effort, sit back and relax". My husband's teenage sisters Lya and Mimi took this idiom to heart, culinarily-speaking, by baking mini-muffins after a hard three-hour workout. What can I say, they were hungry for sweets. The girls decided to flavor them with freshly crushed cardamom and ripe bananas and baked them in a mini muffin pan. The illusion of saving calories by eating multiple mini treats instead of one big one made them feel good.

I love cardamom. It’s a common flavor in Indian cuisine; in addition to its potency, it's very versatile. You can easily make a fragrant gravy or flavor your favorite dessert, all with the same ingredient. What’s not to love? 


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Plantain Stuffed Sweet Peppers Recipe

Plantain Stuffed Sweet Peppers

08.01.13 by Jackie

I've spent all summer working out with Lya, my husband's teenage sister. We're not aiming to lose weight but to be healthier and get our muscles toned. We don't diet but we watch what we eat. Today, I prepared multi-colored mini sweet peppers and stuffed them with a combination of mashed plantains, cannellini beans and crushed potato chips. 

I kept the menu gluten free and paired the plantain-stuffed mini peppers with garlicky quinoa. It's amazing how delicious this healthy dish was; it was satisfying, flavorful and quite filling. Now, back to the treadmill!


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Artichoke and Spinach Tart Recipe Recipe

This artichoke and spinach tart is packed with flavor. I added roasted garlic and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and covered the mixture with mozzarella. As a reminder of the flavors in the filling, I garnished the tarts with the main ingredients and a sprinkling of a few sunflower seeds for texture.

Making savory tarts is so easy when using store-bought puff pastry. Simply raid your pantry and refrigerator and smartly pair your favorite ingredients. You'll be able to accomplish two things: complete a delicious meal and get rid of leftovers at the same time!


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Watermelon Juice Recipe (Nuoc Ep Dua Hau) Recipe

Freshly-pressed watermelon juice called nước ép dưa hấu is a staple at any restaurant in Vietnam. I haven't been back to Vietnam since I was 17 and I often get nostalgic. To remind me of the good times I had in Vietnam, I bought a ripe watermelon and prepared the fruity juice.

We were very lucky because the watermelon was fabulous and didn't need additional sweeteners. Papa, my father, is an expert at selecting delicious, sweet watermelons. When I was a child, I would always watch him knocking on the fruit, smelling and comparing the weight between watermelons. Ripe, sweet watermelons are supposed to be very fragrant and heavy for their size, the skin should have a nice sheen and the underside should be pale yellow.


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Lavash Bread 'Sushi' Pinwheel Recipe Recipe

If you’re intimidated by the thought of making sushi, this recipe is a great place to start. These sushi-syle pinwheelsl are much easier than the real thing, but still delicious. No nori sheets or rice are involved. Instead, I used soft flatbread, roasted red bell pepper hummus, crunchy shredded carrots, wasabi-flavored avocado, edamame beans and spinach leaves. They can be served as appetizers for a dinner party; to ensure they don't fall apart, secure them by tying cute bows around the "sushi" using garlic chives. Remember, you eat with your eyes first!

If you happened to stop by the Gilroy Garlic festival this weekend, you may have come across the California Lavash booth. I absolutely love their artisan flatbread and used it in this dish. Their new look has officially launched and it should be hitting Whole Foods shelves in a few weeks; I’m personally excited about that because you'll be able to see my photos on the new packages!


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