Cooking with… Regina

Cooking with Friends, Life
Final product!

Final product!

I’m a super judgmental person.

I figured this out when I met Regina for the first time. Regina was a new colleague who joined the adjacent department a couple of months ago.

I met her and decided:
1) She was too hot to be nice.
2) Her heels were too high and she laughed too much which meant she was silly.
3) She was too hot to be nice.

And then.

Despite me being a judgmental ahem and a little cold, Regina didn’t care. She didn’t let it affect the way she treated me. She was unflappably friendly, optimistic and so kind – when I needed it most (I was going through my bimonthly existential crisis) and I was forced to admit I was wrong. Oh so wrong.

We got closer and I discovered that in addition to being hot and able to balance (and DANCE TANGO) in crazy high heels, girlfriend can cook. Which is really the only thing that matters.

SO fast forward to many months and many laughs later, I decided to invite her over to be a part of this whole Cooking with DiniBlini series (I need more volunteers – can you cook? Are you photogenic?)

So Regina, in addition to being generally awesome, has generally awesome genes. Basically she can eat anything and still be skinny. Yes, you can resent her secretly. I won’t tell.

She wanted to make a chocolate tart which morphed into a salted caramel chocolate tart which morphed into salted caramel brownies (too lazy to make the crust) and then finally we settled for salted caramel peanut butter brownies.

Sugar and water

Sugar and water

This recipe… had many steps. We had to make the caramel sauce from scratch and I was like “Nooooo Regina I don’t want to do thisssss.”

Brown sugar and water

Brown sugar and water

But she didn’t let my whining phase her nor the steps. Regina comes from the school of eternal optimism, as in, “It’s ok! Just wing it! It will be fine! Don’t use measuring cups! It will be fine!”

Peanut butterrrrrr

Peanut butterrrrrr

And it was fine. We made our own peanut butter salted caramel sauce which turned out to be easy.

Brownie batter!

Brownie batter!

We melted chocolate over a makeshift double broiler.

ME!

ME!

Me – confidently trying not to burn my hands.

Batter

Batter

Chocolate in

Chocolate in

So in

So in

We mixed in the melted chocolate, post flour addition – which was wrong, wrong, WRONG. If I was alone I would have been on the verge of a meltdown BUT Regina calmed me down and told me it would be fine. It was.

Close up

Close up

All ok?

The glamorous Regina - in the flesh

The glamorous Regina – in the flesh

And then we had a conveyor belt system where Regina very efficiently scooped batter into these waxed cupcake liners and I clumsily tried to put a dollop of peanut butter salted caramel sauce in the middle of it… and… she didn’t say anything.

She decided my knives were too blunt (they still are)

She decided my knives were too blunt (they still are)

While we waited for the brownies to bake. Regina sharpened my knives and told me stories about all the things she’s done. Ok I can’t remember what we actually talked about, but Regina tells lots of stories because she’s been there and done that. And it used to irritate me when I first met her but then I realized that she shares, because she cares. It’s about spreading knowledge and information and experiences so that I, or anyone else she meets, can learn from it.

If you make desert for me I will force feed you salad

If you make desert for me I will force feed you salad

And that’s important because learning is important. I might be a risk averse cook but I can learn to be more laid back in the kitchen. Regina might be averse to eating green things but she can “learn” to eat a salad. Especially when I gave her no other choice.

Taste test

Taste test

Ultimately the brownies were a hit (remember to underbake and if you’re baking them in individual cups like we did, cut the baking time anywhere from 12-15 minutes).

We added marshmallows because Regina wanted them. She also wanted to add alcohol. And peanut butter chips. So we had three versions.

We taste tested them all and they were delicious. So, clearly, in cooking/baking and life you can wing it and in the end, it will all be fine.

Peanut Butter, Banana and Oat Muffins

Baking

Peanut Butter, Banana and Oat Muffins

I was going to leave this post till mid week because that’s typically when traffic is higher but you know what?

It’s pretty.

It looks oh-so-comforting.

And that’s what you need on a Monday morning when your entire body is screaming at you to NOT WAKE UP – CRAWL BACK UNDER THE SHEETS – THE WORLD DOES NOT DESERVE YOU!

Peanut Butter, Banana and Oat Muffins

Ahem. I present the breakfast muffin. Made with leftover mushy bananas.

They are light and fluffy and not too strong tasting if that’s your sort of thing. Since it’s not mine I would serve it with additional peanut butter or Nutella.

YUM.

Dry ingredients
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup whole oats (I made mine finer by pulsing it a bit in the food processor)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can probably use vegetable oil)
2 eggs
1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar (allowed to sit for 5 minutes before incorporating)/ 1 cup buttermilk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.

Grease a muffin pan for 12 muffins.

Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl.

Mix them together until just combined.

Pour evenly into the muffin holes – they will be 3/4 full.

Bake in the oven till its puffed up and the tops crack. About 20 minutes.

*Adapted from Baking Bites.
**Photography by Hoi Yee (paper_shins).

Update: You MUST eat this with an extra tablespoon (or two!) or peanut butter. THE END.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Cake

Baking

2014-01-05 08.08.38

This cake has gotten a lot of love in my house. The whole thing basically disappeared over the course of a few days.

That doesn’t always happen.

I think it’s obviously because I am now a baking genius.

Or it could be the peanut butter and chocolate.

Nah. It’s probably me.

*Recipe from Averie Cooks. You want to check her version out. Her photos are stunning.

Thai Inspired Salad with Peanut Butter Based Dressing

Cooking

Image

You know what I love about salads? They make you feel super healthy while you’re eating them and after when your body is all “THANK YOU for feeding me good things I reward you with clearish skin and a happy tummy (I almost got specific there and then didn’t)”.

What I love about making salads at home is that you can decide if you want more/less meat, carrots, whatever. So that’s why I haven’t specified amounts for the salad ingredients. I swear you can really change it up because the dressing ties pretty much anything together.

The dressing is enough for maybe two servings so feel free to multiply for more!

Dressing
2 Tbsps creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsps honey
2 Tbsps soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 3 small limes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small knob of ginger, minced
1 Tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Salad
Quinoa (prepared like this)
Carrot(s), cut into matchsticks
Beansprouts, washed and drained
Cucumber(s), peeled and diced
Red onions, diced OR green onions, chopped
Dry roasted peanuts, chopped
Fresh cilantro, long stems removed for topping
Optional add-ins: cooked chicken, pork, shrimp or tofu

Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To assemble salad mix all ingredients together and toss with dressing.

Serve.

*Adapted from Cooking Classy.

Overnight Oats (2)

Recipes

My breakfast this morning (actually this was my breakfast on Wednesday but this is a LIE all food bloggers tell) was this – Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Overnight Oats. And it was TERRIBLE.

overnight oats

This is mainly because I, like an idiot, decided I didn’t need to use a sweetener because HEY the chocolate chips would be enough. They weren’t. But I did use chia seeds and they were pretty kickass and REALLY filling and apparently the INTERNET says its good for me? Ok!

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup soy milk
1 Tbsp chia seeds (I used these chia seeds and bought it from iHerb – use my promo code at checkout if you’re a first time customer)
1-2 tsps honey/maple syrup (please use a sweetener – otherwise you WILL be sad)
dash of vanilla extract
2 Tbsps chocolate chips
1 Tbsp peanut butter

Mix oats, milk, chia seeds, honey/maple syrup and vanilla extract the night before. Put in a container (small plastic Tupperware should work) in the fridge.

The next morning, stir and top with chocolate chips and peanut butter.

Eat.

* Chia seeds have protein and are awesome and apparently will make you a successful human being.
** My overnight oats are quite liquidy. You can play around with the consistency if you want it less liquidy. I understand that this is obvious advice. But logic may not be your strong point.