Non-Dairy Keylime Pie

 There are a few desserts characterized particularly by the dairy ingredients in them... like cheesecake, ice cream, pudding, and key lime pie.  For real, key lime pie is so great because of the heavenly, rich texture and subtle sweetness contributed by glorious sweetened condensed milk.  I could eat that stuff by the spoonful, crap I could eat it by the ladle-ful... if I didn't feel sick to my stomach 13 minutes later.  Therefore, the idea of attempting a non-dairy key lime pie was pretty daunting.  UNTIL my mom told me about Trader Joe's non-dairy cream cheese, which is actually super delicious (and generally speaking, I find fake dairy stuff totally repulsive.  Have you ever tried veggie cheese? Blehhh it's like trying to melt a makeup sponge on your food...).  Suddenly, a new dimension of desserts was opened to me, and this is a very happy dimension. 


Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi Sandwiches

 Just like style, there are food trends.  And Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are hip right now.  I wish I could pull the "yeah I've known about these forever, they're nothing new because I'm so knowledgeable of all things cultural and culinary..." card, but I can't.  I can, however, claim that Vietnamese food has been my favorite for a long while now, and I am super stoked that it is finally receiving the media it deserves.  Banh Mi are an approachable medium for Vietnamese food to take- I mean who doesn't love a sandwich?  I also appreciate that there are so many varieties to choose from, and no real wrong way to go about creating your own banh mi.  That being said, some ways just taste better, like this way :)


Green Papya Salad

This tangy, refreshing salad is an easy introduction to Vietnamese cuisine.  With only a few simple ingredients, it is bursting with flavor.  Try it as a side, or toss some grilled shrimp on it to make it a complete meal.

Mexican Slaw

 I grew up in a 'salt&pepper family'.  No, my parents didn't grey prematurely, rather my mom didn't really know what any seasoning, beyond salt and pepper, was. (unless you count ketchup as a seasoning, she was all over that...)  So, when I was finally 16 and capable of driving myself to the grocery store (yes.. I got excited about that, versus driving to the mall and all the hip parties...) I could finally buy all the cool ingredients I saw chefs using on the Food Network.  Cumin was one of my first orders of business, and let me tell you- its earned a dear place in my heart.  There's something so wonderful about the mildly bitter, but warm flavor of cumin.  It works so well in such a wide variety of cuisines, and brings enough flavor to stand on its own, yet still plays so well with others.  In this recipe, the cumin shines, enhanced by the tart lime and creamy mayonnaise.  This slaw is an excellent side, or absolutely delicious with fish tacos.

Lightly Pickled Carrot and Daikon

Pickles are humiliated cucumbers.  They become sad and gnarly, and get the vivid life sucked right out of them.  It's a depressing process, really.  And yet somehow, I don't feel guilty whatsoever pickling daikon and carrot.  Maybe because nobody knows that daikons are anyways, so what does it matter if I humiliate the crap out of them?  Or maybe because these are sweet, dynamic pickles that burst with fresh, delicious flavor.  Rather than the flavorless, salt-ridden amoebas that are usual pickles, these babies brighten whatever they are served with, and function to enhance their fellow flavors.

Spicy Mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise (Homemade reccommended)
  • 2 Tbs gochujang (korean red pepper paste)
 Mix ingredients thoroughly.

This stuff is delicious on sandwiches, as fry sauce, or to spice up a standard cole slaw.

Yields a generous 1/2 cup.


Homemade Mayonnaise

Aside from Ketchup and Barbeque sauce, I basically despise condiments.  I find mustard unappealing, and mayonnaise practically repulses me.  Seriously, egg salad, potato salad, and cole slaw- basically the staples found at every picnic and potluck- kind of make my skin crawl.  I have had a life of discarding half of my sandwich because the waiter didn't hear my clear qualification of "NO MAYONNAISE".  It's a pathetic existence.  This inexplicable hatred was quelled this weekend however, when I made Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.  All the recipes called for mayonnaise, but I couldn't bring myself to allow my dinner guests to spread that nasty goo on such perfectly good sandwiches.  The thought of it was almost insulting, so instead of giving them a jar of hydrogenated oil, soy lecithin, and preservatives, I decided to make my own.  And- It. Was. Good.  Call Channel Five News, folks, this hater has been converted.  Not only was it good- but super entertaining to watch.  I think I'll give mayonnaise for Christmas this year, just so I can make a ton of batches and observe the magic unfold, over and over.

Chocolate Ginger Mousse with Orange Whipped Cream

I'm pretty sure "chocolate" is one of my most used labels... by a lot.  But really, who doesn't love a good chocolate recipe?  Chocolate plays so well with others, I can't help that I resort back to it as soon as I need to whip up a 'fancy' dessert.  In this instance the bitter dark chocolate harmonizes perfectly with the warm, spicy ginger, creating a uniquely satisfying mousse.  Dollop on some orange whipped cream, and this simple concoction screams gourmet.  It's awesome.  And who doesn't need another chocolate recipe in their repertoire?  I know I do- especially one that takes only 3 ingredients.  Sign me up.

Vietnamese Chili Lime Sauce

Growing up I did not have broad food horizons.  I would eat Pb&J, butter noodles, or cheese and crackers.  Not even kidding.  Lasagna was pushing it for me.  I was the kid that ordered french fries at the Mexican restaurant.  You get the idea.  Exotic food was unimaginable for me, but then I discovered the Vietnamese restaurant near my house and it changed my life.  Everything there was delicious, and they mixed so many foods together and I didn't die!  What makes everything Vietnamese so delicious is the marvelous sauces, and aromatic fresh herbs.  This chili lime sauce is a standard sauce that goes with anything from shrimp spring rolls, to green papaya salad, to char-grilled chicken and vermicelli.


Crunchy Ginger Snaps

[Insert witty introduction]
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar (optional) 


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