Ok, so I know I’ve already done a Blueberry Muffin post.  And I’ve been making my muffins the same way for years.  But this just goes to show you that  sometimes the old way is not the best way.

I recently tried a slight variation of that old muffin recipe and, man, these are good.  The old ones are delicious, but they get a tinsy bit greasy when cooled from the vegetable oil.  These muffins are a slightly ‘dryer’ (for lack of a better word) and more muffin-y (if that makes any sense at all).  I thinking this may be my new go-to blueberry muffin recipe.  Change is good my friends.

(And this time, I made my muffins with fresh berries so the pictures turned out much better!)

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I’m not the biggest fan of seafood, but my family loves it.  And since cooking with saffron has always been on my list of things to do, a Paella dish was born.

Ok, I know this is not the most authentic bowl of Paella (so I used Chinese rice instead of fancy Spanish rice. I’m Asian, it’s what I had on hand. What do you want from me??)  But it was tasty and that’s all that matters.

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Ok, I’m just going to say it.  My summer guilty pleasure is Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City.  I know that its just a bunch of crude housewives bickering back and forth, pointless entertainment.  But it’s so entertaining!  I gotta say, I’m totally Team Bethenny.  Not that I think she’s the nicest character of the series or anything, but because I love her one liners and just find her quick wit entertaining.

On the show this season, there was a special emphasis on Bethenny’s status as a “chef”.  So naturally, I had to do some investigating.  Turns out, she’s a natural foods, self proclaimed “Skinny Chef”, and has several books out teaching women how to be naturally thin (whatever that means…)  I did some more digging and found some of her health food recipes.  Me, being me, of course I need to try one of these recipes!  So off I went.

I’ve always been wary of health foods – especially health desserts.  But, these cookies are good! I wouldn’t be posting them otherwise.  Although, I’m a little iffy about calling them cookies.  They’re shaped like cookies, but the texture is almost a little bread like…but delicious without all the butter and extra calories.  Win-win.

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Dutch Baby Pancakes

I must admit that my food cravings come from the strangest places.  Who would have ever thought that watching late night TV could lead to the discovery of delicious breakfast foods.

Since returning from China, it’s been a battle of mind vs. body to convert back time zones.  With the 13 hour time difference between Midwest America and China, day and night is exactly opposite.  In weaker moments, I admit to secretly sneaking in, er…4 hour ‘naps’ at 2pm in the afternoon which causes me to be wide awake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep past 3am.  In an effort to distract my mind from sleepiness/insomnia, I’ve taken to watching a lot of TV.  The other night on The Late Show, David Letterman, for reasons unknown, cooked Kate Hudson a waffle with a waffle maker mid-show.  In the midst of the zombie-like tv-watching stupor I’ve been stuck in this past week, a switch flipped in my brain and I just had to have something smothered in maple syrup immediately.

This quest for maple syrup ultimately lead to the discovery of Dutch Baby Pancakes (aka German Pancakes).  These pancakes are just my kind of thing; a few simple on-hand ingredients and no need to ladle or flip.

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1.3 Billion People

2.5 weeks, 20 extra lbs, one giant mosquito bite, multiple suspected and 2 actual bouts of food poisoning, and 48 straight hours of air travel later, I am finally returned from the motherland!

Now time to sift through those 2,000 pictures I took.  I suppose this would be an useful occupation of my time when I wake up at 3 in the morning because my body still thinks it’s 4 at night…I hate re-adjusting to time when I get back.

But for now, let me introduce you to something very special:

Many a time have I professed my love for the BBQ sandwiches at Black Dog in Urbana.  But step aside Burnt Ends Brisket w/ Hot Georgia Peach sauce, you have met your match.  Introducing the greatest “bbq” sandwich west of the Pacific, Hong Shao Ruo in ManTou.

Sweet succulent fatty meat, braised for hours so that it literally melts away in your mouth as you eat it.  drool.

Get ready for more pictures of food, because that’s literally 70% of the 2,000 pictures I took.

Sidenote: While enduring those 48 straight hours of air travel, I realized that countless hours of watching Lost and reading Lost theory blogs (I still have yet to catch up on the series finale which I missed while in China so no one talk to me about it! I will kill you if you spill the beans!) have made me really paranoid about flying over  oceans.  At one point, somewhere over the Pacific ocean during a meal service, my plane hit a nasty stretch of turbulence unlike any I’ve ever experienced.  Several people started screaming and even a flight attendant nearly fell over in the aisle while trying to scramble back to her seat.  At that moment, all I could see in my mind were flashes of me living through a Chinese version of Lost and Claire from Modern Family talking about how airplanes are like “steel coffins”.

Last post before I leave for 2.5 weeks in China.  I’m so ready to gorge my self until my stomach explodes.  I must have some Peking Duck stat!  Ooh and Xiao Long Bao in Shanghai.  And my favorite breakfast food in the entire world: Dou Jian Yuo Tiao.  Yum!  On a related note, apparently WordPress is one of the blocked website in China (along w/ twitter, which makes me really sad b/c I finally have something interesting to tweet about).  So I created my own domain name so my Dad can start following my blog.  You can now read me at: http://www.denimeats.com !

This Pasta is my go-to pasta when I’m starving and want something fast.  You can be ready to eat in basically the time it takes for the water to boil and cook the pasta noodles. And I almost always have all these ingredients on hand, they’re pretty basic.

I first made this pasta after a strenuous but marvelous workout session at CRCE (I am going to miss the gyms at U of I so much; they are so amazing.  It might be the thing that I am most sad about leaving behind…)  Sometimes I like to watch food network while running on the treadmill because drooling over the food distracts me from my tiredness so I can run for longer.  That day, I caught Giada making this pasta.  I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I made it right when I got home.  Over time, I started making different variations of this pasta, but same basic principle.  The one in the picture is made with spinach, carrots, peas, pancetta, and topped with some fresh basil.

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I’ve been stuck in my tiny little bedroom in my apartment, holed up for the past 5 days (…omg it’s been 5 days!) with minimal social interaction cramming for my next CPA exam.  It’s a sad sad life.  To continue with my griping, I’ve been starving the past couple days.  In preparation to move out of my campus apartment, I’ve been trying to refrain from any grocery shopping and save money by eating the food I already have stocked in my kitchen.  Today I ate my last few leaves of Romaine lettuce and the last piece of bread.  I have 3 more days left here and my only remaining meal options are: cereal, oatmeal, eggs, and frozen corn.  Yummy…

The CPA diet – No time to cook and no time to go buy food.  I have no idea what I’m going to eat tomorrow… Oh what I wouldn’t give for a big plate full of this pasta.  This, by the way, is another dish made specially for my mom – loaded with vegetables and minimal meat.  It’s a great healthy version of a creamy pasta.  It’s just creamy enough to make the sauce a little thick and easier to stick to the pasta noodles, but without the guilt of an entirely white pasta.

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