Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m constantly looking for clever ways to make foods healthier by using substitutions, for example, using Greek yogurt or avocado in desserts. So when I found out you could make mashed potatoes using a healthy vegetable, I was very intrigued. Mashed potatoes are the ultimate Thanksgiving comfort food. However, even though potatoes are a vegetable, they are very starchy and even less healthy when butter and cream are added.

Cauliflower, on the other hand, is full of vitamins and minerals and has numerous health benefits. Because it doesn’t have much flavor, when it is steamed and blended it’s not that much different from real mashed potatoes. For flavor, add some Parmesan cheese, garlic, and herbs. This magical veggie can also be used to disguise carbs in other dishes such as cauliflower crust and cauliflower fried rice.

The cauliflower version is actually easier than mashing real potatoes since all you need is a blender, saving your arm from a serious work-out. It tastes best when combined with meat, fish, or other protein. If you’re skeptical about cauliflower mashed “potatoes” or think it’s too extreme, you can mix the blended cauliflower with your regular mashed potatoes. For more healthier alternatives to Thanksgiving recipes, check out this article on Spoon University. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

(serves 2-3)

1 head of cauliflower
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
pinch salt and pepper


Gather ingredients and boil a pot of water.

Cut cauliflower into florets and place in a steamer. Steam for 10 minutes until tender. (If you don’t have a steamer, place cauliflower in a bowl with just enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl. Cover bowl with a paper towel and microwave for 4-5 minutes.)

Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Smash garlic and cook for 1 minute on each side on medium heat until browned.

Put steamed cauliflower in a food processor, along with garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend well.


Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onion Flatbread

Potlucks are one of the best forms of a social gathering. Friends, coworkers, or colleagues all get together and each share a homemade dish, a perfect opportunity to try a variety of food. It makes it even more special since everyone has put effort and love into making their dish, whether it be an old family recipe or their own. Growing up at home, my family and I would go to tons of family friends’ houses for potluck gatherings so it’s nice having them 0nce in a while at school.

This past weekend, our Spoon University members had our first potluck. Once all the dishes were arranged on a table, we all stood around ooh-ing and ahh-ing, taking photos and strategically planning which foods we wanted to try first. There was a nice balance of savory and sweet – pulled pork sliders, honey glazed meatballs, alongside apple crumble, pumpkin donuts, mini oreo pies and much, much more. We were all feasting with our eyes and by the time we were done eating, we were all slipping into food comas.

My contribution to the potluck was a butternut squash and caramelized onion flatbread, a dish that I think is a potluck staple. It can be cut up into small bite-sized pieces to eat with your hands and it is mess-free. I had bought almost all of the ingredients earlier that day at the farmer’s market, including homemade dough. I was originally going to buy pre-made pizza crust from the store but the pizza vendor at the market gave me 2 homemade rolls of dough for $2! Another reason to love farmers’ markets :)

(serves 4)

1/2 butternut squash, cubed
1/2 large white onion
1 pre-made pizza crust or 2 small rolls of homemade dough
2 tbsp fresh sage, cut into strips
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel squash and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes.

Thinly slice half an onion. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil on low heat and add onions. Stir periodically for 30-40 minutes, until caramelized.

When squash and onions are finished cooking, put onto the crust. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until crust is brown.

While flatbread is baking, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small pan and lightly saute sage leaves.

When the flatbread is finished baking, top with the sage leaves.

adapted from Oh my veggies

Spaghetti Squash w/ Chunky Tomato Sauce

One of the many reasons to look forward to weekends is the farmers’ markets. There is one every Saturday that is about  a five minute walk from where I live. I got pretty excited when I recently found out that Baltimore has two bigger ones downtown so I routinely try to convince any friend with a car to bring me with them. There’s something special about waking up early and strolling over to the market on a brisk, Fall morning.


The markets are always bustling with people and there is usually someone playing music – everyone is cheerful and relaxed, unlike the stressed-out, in-a-hurry people you see at the supermarket. It truly is a shopping experience like no other, where you get to taste samples of fresh fruits, sip on stellar coffee, and swoon over delicious looking pies and pastries.

After recruiting some friends to join me at the markets, I always start by getting coffee and something to munch on, like biscuits. Then I’ll peruse the stands and get my vegetables and fruit for the week. It’s amazing to see the variety of produce that are available and I always end up buying something I wouldn’t typically buy at the grocery store. This past weekend, there was a notably larger amount of squash. Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, of all shapes and sizes, were scattered around the market. There was even a mini pumpkin patch!


I’ve only bought and ate spaghetti squash once before but I impulsively decided to buy one that day. Spaghetti squash is a freak of a food and by the name, you can probably guess why. It’s technically a vegetable but when cooked, the inside resembles spaghetti. Although it doesn’t exactly taste like spaghetti and doesn’t have quite the same satisfaction as carbs, it is a fun vegetable worth trying. It can be baked or microwaved but I microwaved it for convenience.

(serves 2)

1/2 spaghetti squash
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Use a knife to cut into the squash 1/4 inch vertically from top to bottom and on the opposite side. Use a fork to poke some holes in the squash for ventilation. Place in a baking dish and microwave for 5 minutes.

Using a dish towel or oven mitt, take dish out of microwave. Use the knife to cut the stem off and then completely cut squash in half vertically. Place squash halves back in tray, skin-side up. Fill tray with 1 inch of water and then microwave for 5 minutes. (Caution: squash will be hot!)

To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add garlic and onion and stir until tender.

Add tomatoes and oregano. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Use a fork to rake out the spaghetti strings from the squash. Keep the spaghetti in the squash or put on a plate. Top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle on freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe adapted from

One-Ingredient Ice Cream

A problem every banana lover encounters is what to do with an excess of old, brown bananas. I find that brown bananas are a little bit too sweet to eat on their own so I usually try to make banana bread or banana bread muffins with them. I recently discovered another possibility, which is to freeze them and make my favorite treat…ice cream! Well, not real ice cream but the texture of frozen bananas is pretty close to the real thing.


Ice cream takes a lot of ingredients and effort to make on its own which is why this “ice cream” recipe is pretty amazing. All you need to do is blend a frozen banana in a food processor. I like to add some dark chocolate chips but you can get creative and blend in other things like Nutella. It’s an easy and healthy dessert that only takes seconds to make.


The bananas don’t necessarily have to be brown but the more brown they are, the more sweet the ice cream will be. Bananas are surprisingly very naturally sugary but nonetheless, the dessert is guilt-free. If you are ever craving ice cream, this super simple recipe will give you a quick fix. Maybe in the future I’ll learn to make ice cream from scratch, but for now I’ll stick with frozen bananas.


(makes 1 serving)

1 banana (preferably brown)
Dark chocolate chips (optional)

Peel banana and break into 3 chunks. Put in a plastic Ziploc bag and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Place frozen banana chunks (and chocolate) in a food processor. Blend until smooth. You may need to use a spoon to move the chunks around to blend better.


Roasted Vegetable Salad

I know summer isn’t completely over yet but I’ve already found a pretty good meatless dish for the Fall. It’s a light salad with roasted vegetables and is full of protein from baked chickpeas.


Salads often get a bad rep cause they remind people of “rabbit food” as my roommate likes to say. It can be hard to find a good balance of flavor and texture without adding too many unhealthy additives like croutons and creamy dressings. Our dining hall has a great salad station that students love, but it can get repetitive since it’s the only good salad bar on campus.


I’ve made this salad in my kitchen about 3 times this week and I’d say its a couple steps up from “rabbit food.” It has a lot of flavor and crunch and is very simple to make. You’ll need an oven for roasting the vegetables, but you could also use a toaster oven, stir-fry them, or steam the vegetables in a pot or microwave.


(serves 2)

1/3 butternut squash, diced into small cubes
1/3 head cauliflower
1 cup chickpeas
2 handfuls mixed salad greens
1/2+1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut butternut squash into bite-sized cubes and cauliflower into small florets. Place veggies into a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until golden brown.

Drain chickpeas and pat dry. In another baking tray, toss chickpeas with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Coat evenly and roast for 30 minutes, also stirring once halfway through.

For the dressing, mix 2 tbsp olive oil with 2 tbsp lemon juice.

To assemble the salad, mix the greens with roasted vegetables and the dressing. Sprinkle on the chickpeas.

adapted from To Her Core

Summer Peach Pie


Before the summer comes to an end, I have a pretty peach pie recipe for you all. This summer, I was subletting an apartment in Georgetown, without many of my cooking/baking supplies. I still managed to cook a lot but never had the chance to bake, without necessities like flour, sugar, etc. Now that I’m back home for a bit, I immediately baked a fruit pie because, well, it’s summer!


When I think of summer, I think of peaches. At the farmers’ market, the smell of peaches is so aromatic and enticing that I always end up buying them. They are always  juicy and delicious; I don’t think I could ever get sick of them! In the past, I’ve made individual peach crumbles that are perfect to share with a few friends. Since we recently had a bunch of family friends over, I thought I’d try a peach pie this time.


Our family friend Ernie loves to cook and knows almost everything about cooking. I’m seriously surprised he’s not a chef. Whenever I’m home for break, he comes over with giant coolers full of supplies and my family and him cook together. Each time there is a different theme – we’ve had a pizza night where we learned how to make thin crust pizza, doughy pizza, pizza baked in the oven, and pizza baked in the grill. Another time we made different types of breads like French baguettes. This time, our theme was pies and burgers.


Ernie shook his head when he saw that we had bought ready-made pie crusts in a box and immediately taught me a flawless pie crust recipe instead. The recipe is actually so simple and makes all the difference in the end; I think I’ve almost been converted to homemade crusts. Of course, college students don’t always have the time for homemade crusts so if you use store-bought crusts I won’t judge 😛


The pie turned out so beautiful in the end that I was reluctant to cut into it. But when I tasted the pie, I quickly forgot about its appearance. The peaches were so soft and juicy, while the crust was flaky and buttery – the perfect contrast. I know most people take off the skin of their fruits when baking them in pies but I left the peach skin on and it actually gave the pie a little bit more texture.



Crust (makes 1)
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed6 tbsp cold water
1 egg white
dash of salt

Pie Filling
6-7 yellow peaches
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp flour1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon


(this is for 1 crust – I made two crusts separately but you could also double the ingredients to make both at once)

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix together with a pastry blender. (If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two butter knives, one in each hand, and slice the dough with both knives in an x shape.) Mix until small pea-sized balls of dough form.

Sprinkle two tablespoons of cold water in and then mix with a fork or wooden spoon. Repeat two more times.

Using your hands, form the dough into a ball. You should see tiny chunks of butter in it, which is a good sign. Press the dough on a surface so into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap.

Place in fridge for 30 minutes to chill.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut peaches into slices and mix with lemon juice, sugar, and flour. Set aside.

Take out one pie crust and roll on a lightly floured surface and place in a 10-inch pie plate. Add 1/3 of the peach mix. Sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon. Sprinkle on 1 tbsp of flour. Repeat with another 1/3 of the peach mix and then the other 1/3.

Roll out the other pie crust and cover over the plate. Trim off excess crust and pinch the two crusts together to form a seam. Cut a few slits on the top and brush a beaten egg white on top.

Sprinkle granulated sugar and cinnamon on top.

Bake for approximately 1 hour, until bubbly.

adapted from NY Times

Nutella Strawberry Pizza

Now that it’s summer, the warm weather and additional free time make it more appealing for me to get up early on Saturday mornings and walk to the farmers’ market. Every time I go, I have a blast buying fresh produce, nibbling on some treats for breakfast, and “window-shopping” through all the stands. Of the various items I bought last week were a carton of fresh strawberries. They were tiny, round little berries unlike the ones in grocery stores – just like they should be.


Feeling in a creative mood, I made Nutella pizza. Nutella, pizza, and fruit…how could that combination possibly go wrong? It ended up tasting more like a flat bread, probably because I had baked the dough first without the toppings. My friend Sydney had made the pizza dough for a little pizza party we had. Making homemade pizza with friends is always fun. Roll some dough, buy some toppings, and everyone can make their own personalized pizza, or one giant one to share!


This weekend, I’ll be moving to Georgetown for the summer since I’ll be working just outside of DC. I love the Georgetown area because of all the shops and restaurants and the neighborhood is beautiful. Hopefully there will be a farmers’ market close to me while I’m there!



Pizza dough
1/4 cup Nutella
Handful of strawberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Take out leftover pizza dough or store-bought pizza dough. If you don’t have any, here is a simple recipe.

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into the shape of a circle, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

Bake in oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Spread as much Nutella as desired in the center and arrange sliced strawberries on top.


Asian Honey Garlic Noodles

Sometimes All the time I crave Asian food. However, I don’t usually cook Asian dishes because they require ingredients specifically for Asian cuisine that can only be found in specialty Asian supermarkets. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the small grocery store across the street had ingredients like mirin (cooking rice wine). Mirin is an essential Japanese condiment that is used to bring out strong flavors. Besides using it in these noodles, I’ve also made salmon with it and am next going to try using it on chicken.


I adapted this recipe from Dennis the Prescott, one of my favorite food Instagrammers. His photos are all incredibly drool-worthy and I’ve wanted to make all of his dishes, especially this one. The recipe is just for the noodles but I also baked Honey soy sauce chicken thighs to go along with it.


These noodles are a quick and easy dish that are guaranteed to satisfy a craving for Asian food. Of course, they’re nothing compared to my mom’s homemade dumplings but they’ll have to do until I visit home in the summer!



1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
4 cloves finely sliced garlic
1 tablespoon honey
500g chow mein noodles
1 bunch green onions (scallions) chopped
1 tbsp. finely diced ginger
1 lime
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, honey and sesame seeds. Whisk to combine.

Cook noodles for a couple minutes until firm, but slightly softened.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan or wok on high heat. Add noodles and ginger, and stirfry for a couple minutes. Add sauce, and cook for about 1 minute, making sure that the noodles are completely coated in sauce. Add scallions, juice of 1 lime, and toss to combine.

adapted from Dennis the Prescott

Dijon Pumpkin Spice Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are one of those foods everyone hates as a kid but then loves as they grow older. I know I used to avoid them at all costs because of their bitter taste and because all my friends hated them. Now, I absolutely love them. My favorite way to cook them is with bacon, which I taught to my cooking class in the beginning of the year. I’ve also tried them roasted with cinnamon but they ended up being too dry for my liking. This recipe, however, solves that problem.


My friend Keri, who is on the Spoon University at Hopkins team with me, is actually the creator of this amazing recipe. When she first mentioned “pumpkin spice” and “Brussels sprouts” in the same sentence I was a little thrown off. I usually associate pumpkin spice with fancy Starbucks lattes and Fall desserts but never would I have imagined to combine it with a vegetable. So of course, I had to try it and see for myself.


One bite of these sprouts and I knew this was my new favorite recipe for these veggies. The flavor was so complex, delicious, and new that I was completely blown away. The sweetness from the spice and maple syrup perfectly counters the bitter sprouts and the spiciness of the Dijon mustard ties it all together. I bet even the little kid version of myself would approve.



2 ½ cups Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon + ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)
¼ cup cranberries (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Trim Brussels sprouts and cut in half lengthwise.  (Make sure sprouts are patted dry so they will get soggy when cooking).

In a medium bowl, mix sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

Bake for 25 minutes or until edges start to brown.

While they’re baking, whisk together Dijon, maple syrup, and remain olive oil and pumpkin pie spice.

Take sprouts out of the oven and drizzle the mixture over the sprouts. Add optional nuts or dried fruit and bake for another 10 minutes.

Blackberry Brie Bites

Brie is awesome. Its ooey-gooey creaminess makes us melt with delight as we spread it on crackers at dinner parties. But it can be spread on much more than crackers. For a light snack in the Spring or Summer, try making these blackberry brie bites. It’s the perfect combination of a burst of fruit and cheese, wrapped in a buttery, flaky blanket.


These are perfect crowd-pleasers for parties, meetings, or just for fun. They are literally bite-sized so they won’t make a mess but enough to impress your friends and leave them wanting more. Of course, they’re best served warm, right after you take them out of the oven. If they do get cold, you can simply warm them up in the microwave and get the same taste.


I spontaneously made these after school one day because I had leftover brie and wanted to bake it in with puff pastry. These are actually very similar to the Cuban Guava Pastries I made last year, which were made using guava paste and cream cheese. There are soo many variations of puff pastry+fruit+cheese. Next time, I’ll try using other fruits like figs and maybe add some honey!



(makes 16)

1 pkg puff pastry, thawed
1 quart blackberries
5 oz brie cheese, cut into cubes
3-4 tbsps blackberry jam
1 egg, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the thawed puff pastry into equal squares.

Place a cube of brie in the middle of a square, spoon 1/4 teaspoon of jam onto it, and place blackberry on top. Fold two opposite corners into the middle and pinch corners together. Then, pinch the other two corners to meet in the middle so all 4 corners come together. Repeat for each square.

Beat the egg until mixed. Brush egg wash on the outer parts of puff pastry surface.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.