Category Archives: Uncategorized

it ends and begins

untouched… mostly because I couldn’t cook here but I’ve moved into a new place in Shanghai for the next three months and will be using the kitchen, then it’s back to the states. Expect more, expect simplicity. For now, pictures.



Shanghai Week 2

More of Malone’s and Shanghai. Check flickr. Went clubbing the other night after meeting some Fudan kids at Helen’s. Fun Times. Chinese for a good 60% of the conversation. Pulled an all-nighter, sounds of a waking city and the scent of cigarettes still clinging to my skin.

Shanghai: Week 1

view from my uncle’s apartment

shanghai: you’ve destroyed me.


Hey guys! I’m sorry I haven’t updated…like…at all? I’m preparing to leave for Shanghai and am changing this blog to a travel blog! That is, if I can even get onto wordpress via China. (Hello Great Firewall!) Will be using Proxies and VPN. I hope everyone is having an exceptional week (I hear Australia is having some issues and so is the East Coast of the US). Please be careful! I will be flying over tonight!

Wish me luck on my 19 hour flight (bawww)

Gnocchi with Basil-Pesto, Chicken, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Pasta dishes are my idea of comfort dishes– they’re usually cheesy or herby or tomato-y and are filled with instant carbohydrates waiting to be stored into fat cells until I work them off at the gym.

Alone. But not today!

I’m a lone-wolf at the gym but the boyfriend and I are working on my irrational paranoia of seeing people that I know (including him) at the gym derived from probably low-self esteem from freshman-year weight gain, birth control, and an overall decrease in fitness, health, and happiness last year. I love being at the gym: exercising and getting disgustingly sweaty so I need to at least be able to see someone and be fine with it and not let their opinions affect what I do despite whether or not they exist or not. So I’m lucky to have someone to help me out, stay healthy, busy, and to grow from. Love, love, love it.

Since I’m going to be heading to the gym and today, being the worse day, schedule-wise, to cook, I decided to go with a pasta dish. High in carbohydrates (~40g, 16 – 20% DV) from the gnocchi (in moderation, pasta is great!) and only about 355 – 400 calories per ~ 2 cup serving, this is a great energy source, simple, and is incredibly F L E X I B L E. I love pesto with fresh shrimp and blanched asparagus. Usually, I would make my own basil-pesto to control sodium levels but store-bought pesto (with olive oil) is perfectly fine! I also used shredded rotisserie chicken made with NO SALT and pre-made vacuum-packed gnocchi. I’m what you call a TIME-SAVER.

Gnocchi with Basil-Pesto, Chicken, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves 2
1/2 package freeze-dried potato gnocchi
4 – 5 sun-dried tomatoes
1 – 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
shredded leftover roast chicken (~1/4 c.)
2 shallots, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced

Basil Pesto Sauce:
2 c. packed fresh basil
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4 c. pecorino or parmesan, grated
1 clove garlic

In a small food processor, blend all ingredients in Basil-Pesto Sauce until smooth. Season as needed. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak sun-dried tomatoes in simmering water and a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar for 4-5 minutes, drain, and chop into slivers or bite-sized pieces. Bring medium pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook gnocchi until each potato dumpling rises. Remove, drain, and keep warm. Reserve a little cooking water.

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil. Sweat chopped shallots then add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute until garlic is fragrant, but not burnt. Add shredded chicken, basil-pesto sauce, gnocchi, and a couple tablespoons of reserved pasta water. Cook until everything is warmed through. If desired, until gnocchi shows a little caramelization. Season with pepper, if needed. Spoon 2 cup serving sizes into bowls and garnish with fresh basil and shredded cheese, if desired.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa

I’ve done it. I’ve made the best recipe for Quinoa ever. The stuffing is so good that I’ve eaten about half a cup plain. This is a recipe with many parts so it will take some time to complete and look forward to a messy kitchen. I got the idea for acorn squash from Food Wishes— but I’m not a huge fan of sweets (I know right?) so I wanted to add some sort of stuffing that balances the caramelized sweetness from the glaze. I think the combination of sweet and savory really did it.

A lot of people have never heard of quinoa and I don’t blame them– it’s not readily stocked in supermarkets so if you have a specialty store near you, definitely give it a try. Quinoa is a seed of the Quecha (idk) plant much like how rice is the seed of a rice..plant? Anyways, I like to say that it’s the couscous of the grain/seed group– but I don’t particularly like couscous as much as I like quinoa. Quinoa has that slight “crunch” like brown rice has a slight bite– a completely different texture than couscous (which is a pasta). It’s also extraordinarily good for you (and gluten-free as far as I know). You know how white rice essentially has no nutrition for you? Well quinoa has a good amount of the amino acids needed for humans therefore, a really high protein content (especially for a grain) making it a popular choice for vegans and vegetarians.

Quinoa Stuffing:

1 c. quinoa cooked with 2 c. water or stock (I used 1 c. water, 1c. chicken stock)
1/4 c. each minced onion and yellow bell pepper
1/2 – 3/4 c. diced eggplant, placed in a bowl over a paper towel and tossed with lots of salt
1 medium ear’s worth of fresh sweet corn removed from cob
2 tablespoons garlic

3 – 4 tbsp apple juice
1 green onion chopped, green and whites

4 – 5 large, fresh basil leaves, chopped
olive oil

Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, cut in half (be careful)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp butter
1 heaping tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp apple juice for each half
sprinkling of freshly ground pepper

Begin prepping your quinoa ingredients– chopping everything up. Then, bring the quinoa and liquid to a boil in a small pot, cover and bring down to a simmer. Simmer until quinoa has “blossomed” and white rings are visible  and is fluffy. ( I burned the bottom a little but it was still good).  When it is done, fluff it with a fork and add some apple juice for fragrance.

While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the acorn squash in half– be careful, I nearly gutted my stomach like, twice. Clear out the seeds with a spoon or your hands and cut criss-cut slashes through the flesh. Brush each with some apple juice. Place skin side up and bake for 20 – 30 minutes. While baking, make the glaze. Cook the maple syrup, butter, and brown sugar into a small skillet– it will boil and froth, keep stirring for a few minutes until it’s syrupy, season with pepper. Remove the squash and divide the glaze among the halves, brushing the syrup into and around the slashes. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until soft and glaze has reduced a bit, taking the squash out every 10 minutes to reglaze.

Find time between this somehow (haha), and over medium-high heat, cook the onions, bell peppers, drained eggplant, and corn in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook until onions have softened considerably. Add garlic and saute until fragrant and cooked through. Add basil and saute. I usually don’t add any more salt because the eggplants are pretty salty.

Mix the quinoa, vegetable mixture and green onions together, season to taste, and mound into the squash.

Tagged , , , , , , ,


this blog is eating and cooking. it’s about health, art, and photography. it’s about not having time. it’s about me and it’s a blog (just in case you think it gets pretentious and self-centered).

hi, my name is karen.