Baking

Panko Baked Cod

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Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb that is coarser than traditional breadcrumbs. In Japanese, it is written as パン粉, which can be broken down into パン (pan) meaning bread, and 粉 (ko) meaning flour or powder. The proper pronunciation is PAWN-koh, unlike the “PAIN-koh” I hear a lot of celebrity chefs say. Just remember, panko is painless.

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This is a picture of PAWN-koh.

(If you went around Japan saying “PAIN-koh,” you could be mistaken for saying ペン子, which is broken down into ペン (pen) meaning pen, like the writing utensil, and 子 (ko) which means child and is also a common suffix for girls’ names. Basically, you’d be nicknaming your pen when you want to be talking about breadcrumbs. You probably don’t want to do that.)

 

 

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This is a picture of PAIN-koh.

Panko is widely available at most supermarkets and grocery stores, either in the baking aisle or Asian foods aisle.

 

Regardless of how you pronounce it, however, this panko baked cod recipe is really simple with only a few ingredients. I don’t dredge or do anything fancy (or messy), but I’m sure it’d taste great if you did. I like to keep things simple and make as little mess in the kitchen as possible.

 

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Mmm… Flaky and delicious.

 

There are undoubtedly countless ways to dress this up a little if you were going to serve it to guests, but this recipe is just the bare basics for a nice dinner at home with just a little effort! It makes two servings, so feel free to scale it up if necessary.

 

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I made this along with some pasta mix from a box and some sauteed zucchini and yellow squash. Really yummy and simple!

 

 

(Painless) Panko Baked Cod

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of cod (or other mild-flavored fish such as pollock)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a 13″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray. Rinse your fish in cold water to get rid of any scales or pieces of skin that may be hanging around. Set aside.
  2. In a gallon-size bag, combine the panko and lemon pepper. Add fish to bag and shake until coated.
  3. Place breaded fish in the baking pan and cover with any remaining bread crumbs.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish is flaky.
  5. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

 

Baking

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

What’s better than coming home after a long day to the smell of stuffed peppers in the crockpot? And then knowing that dinner’s already done? I’ve been making this recipe a lot this school year because it’s easy, inexpensive, and super delicious. (I confess that I sometimes lick my plate clean.)

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This recipe is for two stuffed peppers in a small crockpot. If you want more, simply get a larger crockpot and double (or even triple) the recipe. Another great thing about this recipe is that you can customize it however you like. For example, you could add some sauteed onions and garlic to your stuffing, or use ground turkey instead of beef.

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You start out by cooking some rice, and while that’s going, you can cut the top off your peppers and take the seeds out. This would also be when you sautee whatever additional things you want to put in your peppers. (Although the following recipe doesn’t include it, use about half an onion and a clove of garlic, diced, per two peppers.)

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Once the rice is done and cooled off slightly, you’ll mix it up with the beef and seasonings. Then you stuff it in the peppers, pour some tomato sauce on top, and set your crockpot on low for about 6 hours. Then you’ll enjoy your peppers and feel like the King of New York!

 

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The leaning tower of pepper.

 

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rice, dry
  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)

Directions

  1. Cook the rice in whatever manner you prefer. While it’s cooking, prepare the peppers by taking their tops off and removing the seeds. Place them in the crockpot and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cooked rice with the beef, salt, black pepper, oregano, and basil. Stuff your peppers with it. (It’s okay if the stuffing comes up over the top of the peppers.)
  3. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the stuffed peppers. Stick the lid on your crockpot and turn it on. Let it cook for about 6 hours on low.
  4. Enjoy!

 

Jewelry

My Favorite 2017 Oscar Jewelry

I love the Oscars. I don’t really know why, but it’s especially fun to look at all the gorgeous jewels and gems and dresses. And then to cheer on your favorite actors, directors, screenwriters, songwriters, and movies. Anyway, since I have a jewelry blog, I like to blog about my favorite jewelry looks. Without further ado, here are my winners in no particular order:

Taraji P. Henson

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What a statement necklace of over 100 carats of diamonds! And a gorgeous emerald ring to top it all off. Both are made by NIRAV MODI. Taraji stars in Hidden Figures, which is a great movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Janelle Monae

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She wore a stunning choker necklace by Ellie Saab and Forevermark Diamonds earrings, ring, and headband. She really went all-out and she looks fantastic in her dress! She’s Taraji’s co-star in Hidden Figures and also starred in Moonlight.

Pharrell Williams

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Also a part of Hidden Figures, Pharrell wore some eye-catching bling with his bowtie and a Chanel brooch. (Yes, men can wear statement jewelry, too!)

Kirsten Dunst

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I love the shape of her necklace. Very simple and elegant and diamonds! Her necklace and earrings are by Niwaka. Kirsten also stars in Hidden Figures.

Chrissy Teigen

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Such beautiful long tassel earrings by Lorraine Schwartz. And you know what? When you gotta take a nap during the Oscars, you gotta take a nap during the Oscars.

Auli’i Cravalho

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I haven’t seen Moana yet, but Auli’i’s performance was fantastic, and her dress is gorgeous! I noticed her bracelet (Maxior) and she’s also wearing some Maxior earrings and a Kotiar ring.

Luz Towns-Miranda

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I’m gonna be honest – it was weird to see Lin without his hair pulled back. (He doesn’t normally dress as Hamilton?) His mom came to support him, and I noticed her Gemfields earrings, which appear to be large flowers. She’s also wearing a stunning emerald bracelet over her gloves.

Ruth Negga

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Well, I knew her as Raina from Agents of SHIELD, and now she’s an Oscar-nominated actress for Loving! She was adorned in rubies in her headband, earrings, and ring which were responsibly sourced from Gemfields and designed by Irene Neuwirth.

Charlize Theron

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If you remember last year’s Oscar’s, Charlize wore a stunning diamond necklace, and this year she wore stunning diamond earrings by Chopard.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few celebrities, but these stood out to me. If you watched the Oscars this year, who do you think wore the most stunning jewelry?

(PS: I’m still confused about this whole Best Picture bit.)

2015 Oscars
2016 Oscars

Baking

Pintertest #8: Raspberry Pinwheel Pastries

These were really fun to make and eat, but unfortunately, they didn’t turn out as pretty as the Pinterest version. I believe that if you add in a couple additional steps, these would turn out pretty close. And they’d also be really cute to make for Valentine’s Day which is coming up on us quick.

 

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Not very pretty, but still fun to make and very yummy!

 

I’ve been wanting to use pastry dough for some time now, so shout-out to Yvette for picking this recipe! (You can find the original recipe from Just a Taste here.) Keep in mind that you will need to thaw your dough for 20-30 minutes at room temperature so that it’s soft but still cold.

In a nutshell, you’ll cut your two pastry sheets into four squares each and lay them on greased baking sheets. (The original recipe says to use wax paper, but I never seem to have any luck with the wax paper not sticking to everything.)

 

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These are really messy because I had to use frozen raspberries. Don’t use frozen raspberries.

 

Then you’ll mix up your cream cheese with sugar and lemon juice (make sure these are all around room temperature), place a spoonful of cream cheese and then raspberry jam in the center of your pastry squares, and plop some fresh raspberries on top. Next, you make cuts in the dough so that you can fold it up and make it look like a pinwheel.

 

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Fold ’em up and stick a toothpick in the center to hold it together.

 

I found that there was a lot of leftover cream cheese, which really bothered me because I had no idea what to do with it. I ended up eating it straight up and it tasted just like my Lemonade Freezer Pie. I imagine if you had some bagels, it’d go great on them as well. Down below, I’ve tweaked the recipe to avoid this problem. On the topic of leftovers, if you’ve got some leftover raspberries and lemon juice, my Lemon Raspberry Mug Cake can help take care of that.

These are best eaten the day you make them, but they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days. I found that you can heat them back up if you pop them in the toaster oven, and they’re even still crispy and flaky! They’re great for both breakfast and dessert!

 

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In an attempt to use all the cream cheese, I probably put too much on the pastries, which may have been a factor in them not holding together.

 

One note of caution: do not use frozen raspberries. Thawed, previously frozen raspberries just make a huge mushy, juicy mess and look more like jam than raspberries. The store was cleaned out of fresh ones and I thought the frozen would be okay, but I was wrong. Anyway, hopefully with that note and the following tips, yours will come out looking much prettier than mine.

Raspberry Pinwheel Pastries

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 package, room temperature)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (17.3 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease up a couple of baking sheets.
  2. If your pastry dough is significantly smaller than 10″ square, roll it out until it’s pretty close. The dough I used was already about 9 1/2″ square, so I didn’t bother rolling it out. Then, cut your dough into four equal squares and place on the baking sheets so that they’re not touching. Prick them several times with a fork.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth. Place about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese into the center of each square, forming a small circle. Next, place a tablespoon of jam on top of that. Place about four raspberries on top of the jam.
  4. Make cuts in the dough from the edge of the cream cheese circle to each corner. Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush around the edges of each square.
  5. Take one corner slice and fold it on top of the raspberries. Brush the top of it with egg wash to help it stick better. Repeat for the other three corners, and brush the top of the pinwheel with egg wash. Take a toothpick and stab it through the center of the pinwheel to ensure it doesn’t come apart while baking. (The original recipe does not use toothpicks, but I think they would be very helpful.) Repeat for the remaining seven pastries.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy, rotating once halfway through.

(Find the original recipe here.)

Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#15)

Here are the books I’ve read and the beverages I’ve sipped while reading them over the past few months. A couple of them are continuations of series, and one is a self-help book. The beverages this month happen to be herbal teas, which I imagine I’ll still be drinking until the snow melts in April.

Books

18966806Morning Star by Pierce Brown

If you haven’t read the Red Rising trilogy yet, you’re missing out on some great stuff. Brown does a fantastic job combining space exploration and sci-fi with dystopia and action. And the best part is that the books don’t lose quality the further you get in the series. Morning Star offers more world-building and we get to see what life is like for some of the other colors besides Red and Gold. There is plenty of action and the pace doesn’t slow down for too long a time. Just like the previous two books, this one has several twists. Ofttimes, the reader doesn’t even know what the characters are planning, which adds suspense and mystery. Basically, it’s got a little bit of everything, including romance.

6662976Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman

I read this book mostly because it was lying around the house and I needed something to read while I waited for my books on hold to arrive at the library. I have seen a few episodes of the Suze Orman Show, and in the book, she reminds us of some of her big dos and don’ts. Given that, there are some points Orman brings up in the book that I don’t think I’ve heard a lot on her show. I thought she had some interesting things to say about managing money and I think they’re good things to ponder over. You probably won’t agree with everything she says (I know I didn’t) but it’s good to see other ways of doing things nonetheless.

8115818The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

This book started out really slow. It didn’t pick up until about a third of the way through. But once the action got rolling, it was great! Basically, Lisbeth Salander has been connected to three murders and the police believe she is their prime suspect and also a dangerous lunatic. However, Mikael  Blomkvist can’t believe that she would murder anyone without a good reason, and knows she isn’t a madman. That starts Blomkvist on his own investigation, along with the fact that one of the murders is connected to Millennium magazine. A mystery man named Zala might be the key to the whole thing, but there are no records of him. The second installment of the Millenium series delves more into Salander’s life and background, and there is plenty of action and mystery once things start going.

Beverages

Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Tea

I love when holiday teas come out! This was a flavor I had never seen before, but it sounded good enough so I thought I’d give it a try. It tastes the same as the name, although I might argue there’s more vanilla in it. The box says it’s got cranberry and vanilla flavor along with rooibos, hibiscus, and cinnamon. I wish they had it year-round!

Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

When I saw this in the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer circular, I knew I needed it. Unfortunately, they were all out the day I went, but they would have more in stock on Friday–Black Friday. Thankfully, Trader Joe’s isn’t insane on Black Friday, so I was able to get some. Taken from the box, it’s “a blend of cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, chamomile, roasted chicory, orange peel, and apple flavor.” Basically, a steaming hot cup of fall-flavored goodness. I hope they have it next year!

Baking

Salsa Pork Chops

 

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Salsa pork chop served with yellow rice and steamed broccoli.

 

I told you I was going to start branching out into savory baked foods, and here you go! Lately, I’ve been getting tired of my plain garlic pan-seared pork chops and I wanted to spice things up a little (pun intended). Several years ago my brother made these pork chops baked in salsa and topped with cheese, and I thought that would be a great way to add flavor and keep in the moisture.

The recipe I’m about to share makes 1-2 servings. Since I’m cooking only for myself these days, I really don’t want to cook 3-4 chops and have to eat that for the next two weeks. And freezing/reheating pre-cooked pork chops doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. (See above about moisture.) If you’ve ever done that, though, let me know if it works!

 

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Always check your meats for doneness! Go here for tips on cooking pork.

 

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I found this recipe very yummy. I used a medium salsa and a Mexican cheese blend and it was perfect, but feel free to use whatever salsa and cheese that make your taste buds happy. I also made some yellow rice for a side and it went very well with the salsa. Spanish rice or that cilantro lime rice from Chipotle would probably pair nicely as well. Overall, it was a delicious meal and I plan on making it again!

Salsa Pork Chops

Ingredients

(Makes 1 pork chop. Scale it up if you desire more than one.)

  • 1 thick boneless, skinless pork chop
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 shredded cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and heat up the cooking oil in a frying pan. (If you have an oven-safe pan, use that.)
  2. Once the pan is hot, carefully place the pork chop in the oil. Sear for about a minute on all sides, including around the edges. Sprinkle each side with a little salt and pepper for flavor. Remove from heat.
  3. Place your pork chop in an oven-safe dish (or keep it in your pan if it’s oven-safe). Pour the salsa on top and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer. (145°F for medium-rare or 160°F for medium.)
  4. Once it’s done, sprinkle the cheese on top and put it back in the oven for 1-2 minutes to melt. (This won’t make a huge difference to the doneness of the pork.)
  5. Let the pork chop rest before serving.

 

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Cheesy salsa goodness!

 

Bonus Blog · Books and Beverages

More Gadgets for Your Books and Beverages!

I did another gadget post like this one over a year ago, and in that time I’ve discovered a few more awesome things that I think book and beverage lovers will enjoy as much as I do.

Tea and Books Mug

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I found this mug from the Etsy shop, Lenny Mud. They also have a website. It looks like this mug isn’t available anymore, but they do have another really cute reading mug.

This mug is perfect for Books and Beverages and I had to have it. There are so many cute details included on the mug like it’s an actual book. The handle looks like pages and the opposite side looks like a spine. It’s so adorable!

Electric Kettle / Hot Pot

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When I’m too lazy to venture to the kitchen, or when I don’t want to wake everyone up with a kettle whistling, my electric kettle comes to the rescue. When I was living in the dorms I also used it to cook box mac and cheese and soup, so it’s really a versatile little device.

Amazon has a similar one here. (Gotta love Amazon!)

Kindle

I bought myself a Kindle before I went to Japan. I thought I would never use an e-reader, but I’m really glad I got my Kindle. It was so handy to have on the long airplane rides to and from Japan, and it was also great on the trains. It’s really lightweight and I could check out e-books from the library so that I didn’t have to buy or bring any books on the trip. My Kindle isn’t backlit, so it was a good thing I had my handy dandy reading light.

Additionally, since I moved I don’t have access to as nice of a library system, but I can still get e-books from it. Although nothing beats a physical book with pages, the Kindle sure has its advantages.