Crispy chicken thighs

For times when you have a research poster to draft, an oral presentation to prepare for, and desperately seeking proof of progress for an upcoming thesis committee meeting all due within a short period of time, this chicken thigh recipe is ideal. From (A)musing Foodie, this is a quick and super simple dish to prepare with only a few simple ingredients.  Another plus, it involves minimal raw chicken contact.  As promised, this recipe produced flavourful chicken thighs with crispy skin.

I replaced garlic salt with garlic powder and mixed it with the kosher salt.  Also, I think I over-drizzled the chicken with olive oil since my apartment smelled like baked chicken oil for the rest of the weekend.  For easy  clean-up, line the baking tray with parchment paper.  You might notice some burnt chicken skin in my picture. Put some foil over the chicken if you starting noticing that the skin is browning up too fast.

Crispy chicken thighs

Crispy chicken thighs 2




Pinwheels: Deli meat and cheese, crabmeat and veggie

An ideal work potluck would have a lot of variety but, usually, you end up with a lot of dips and salads. Pinwheels are easy to make, can feed a lot of people, not too expensive and potentially impress your fellow co-workers.

I found this simple ham and cheese pinwheel recipe from CenterCutCook. The cream cheese and mayo spread is really appetizing and pairs well with any meat or veggie you might want to add to the wrap.

When you roll the wrap, make sure to make it tight. Chilling it in the fridge also makes it easier to cut up the wrap into pinwheels. One more tip, make sure to buy the freshest tortilla wraps to avoid flaking when you start rolling the pinwheels.

I used basic deli meat (turkey and pepperoni) and provolone cheese for these pinwheels.


Or, if you want to be fancier and go for a more gourmet version, you can use crabmeat. (My friend made the crabmeat and veggie pinwheels for his potluck).


And if you have vegetarians at the potluck, you can easily make a few meatless wraps. Start with a layer of the cream cheese and mayo spread. Sprinkle some chopped peppers and olives with some shredded cheese on top. Roll it up for a veggie pinwheel.



Bacon Mac and Cheese with Panko crust

One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my cast iron skillet. So heavy but so versatile. With this Macheesmo Mac and Cheese recipe, you can cook the bacon on the stove top and bake the macaroni in the stove all in the same skillet. This dish was creamy and cheesy on the inside with a crispy crust. A perfect comfort food.

Make sure you pick a strong flavored cheese to give the cheese sauce more flavor. For a crunchy topping, I mixed the parmesan with Panko. Also, I would definitely double the amount of bacon next time. I need every bite to have some bacon.



Chinese curry chicken thighs

Curry is such an easy meal for students to make as it doesn’t take much prep work to make such a flavor-intense dish. Chinese curry is milder and less-thick as compared to Indian and Thai curry. It’s usually yellow-curry and almost always includes potatoes and some type of meat.

While my mom has made Chinese curry multiple times, asking her to give me a recipe is impossible. Quantities will be described as “a little bit” or “a soup spoonful” and would have included a lot of “sometimes I add this” or “sometimes I would do that”. Instead, I opted to try Adriel’s Chinese Curry Chicken recipe.

I couldn’t find curry paste at the grocery store so I made some based off a curry sauce recipe by only using the dry ingredients. It’s a really simple combination of butter, flour and curry powder.

I used boneless, skinless, whole chicken thighs. I just stewed the meat in the curry about 5-10 minutes longer to make sure it cooked through. I also added frozen vegetables towards the end cause I feel healthier when I add some greens to my meals. Also, instead of slicing the potatoes, I would chop my potatoes into chunks next time so they don’t dissolve as easily.

The Chinese curry dish (even with the make-shift curry paste) was reminiscent of my childhood meals. I would definitely use this recipe again when I get another craving for some good curry.



Bonus tip: You can use the remaining coconut milk to make a smoothie with frozen mixed berries.


Philadelphia: Eats and treats

One of the better perks of being a graduate student are funded trips to research conferences. Aside from being able to share your work with other researchers, you also get to explore cities that you might otherwise never think of visiting, such as Philly.

When I say exploring, I really mean eating as much as I can. This week’s post is not a recipe I tried but, instead, it’s all the food I was able to fit into my short trip to Philadelphia.

Reading Terminal Market is a foodie paradise with a mix of fresh produce and meats, plus a wide variety of eateries.


My first stop at the Market was Dinic’s Roast Pork Sandwich with spinach and provolone cheese. This popular sandwich was named best sandwich in the US by the Travel channel. So I had to try it. It didn’t disappoint with the pork not being overly dry and the greens gave the sandwich texture. I wouldn’t say it’s my top sandwich but it comes close to Carnagi Deli’s hot pastrami sandwich in NYC and Electric Mud’s brisket sandwich in Toronto.


Sang Kee’s roasted duck in noodle soup
This was one of two duck dishes I had in Philly. The egg noodles and broth was your standard Asian dish. The duck was good, but, something I can easily get in Toronto. The ratio of fat to meat was also a bit too high for me but, nevertheless, it was some tasty duck.


The Dutch corner in the market has food stalls with baked goods and dishes brought to you by Pennsylvania Dutch vendors. At the Dutch Eating Place, the apple dumpling is a popular item that has been featured on the Food Network. The baked good is reminiscent of an apple crumble but shaped into a ball. I was hoping the pastry part was a bit flakier like an apple pie.

Beiler’s bakery makes fresh donuts at the market and it was quiet a sight to watch them make the sweet pastries by hand. They offer unique flavors such as peanut butter cream (one of my favourites), pumpkin spice, and coconut cream. If you had to pick one desert, I would skip the apple dumpling and pick up some donuts.

All trips to Philly must include a cheesesteak sandwich. The one I had from Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies, was exactly what I wanted: piping-hot, thinly sliced, steak with melted cheese. Delicious.


Reading Terminal Market is very close to the Chinatown in Philly and I had a chance to eat at a few of the popular restaurants (according to Yelp reviewers).


Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House’s beef noodle dish hit all the right spots as a traditional Asian comfort dish. The noodles were the perfect texture and, while I don’t normally drink the broth, I had multiple gulps cause it was just that amazing.


While wandering around Chinatown, I came across this tiny, take-out only restaurant, Siu Kee Duck House. Like Sang Kee’s, the duck was tasty but nothing mind blowing.


Lastly, there was Shake Shack. Although not unique to Philly, I knew I wanted to have another bite of that delicious Shack Stack, a cheeseburger topped with a deep-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted cheese. Their purple cow float (grape Fanta with a heaping scoop of their vanilla frozen custard) is now one of my top dessert drinks.


In between all the eating, I had some time to enjoy the amazing architecture and history in the heart of the city.





Butternut squash soup

The Fall season calls for some squash or pumpkin related recipe. This is a very simple butternut squash soup recipe from Once Upon a Chef.  The easiest way to cut up a butternut squash is to start by cutting the round bottom part from the longer narrower stem part.  Then, stand the longer stem part on the cut-end and cut off the skin with thin slices around the sides.  This recipe made a hearty delicious soup and paired great with bread. In this instance, I served it with some pastizzi, a Maltese flakey pastry filled with ricotta cheese or mushy peas.

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Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

This is my second attempt at making cheesecake.  I used the chocolate cheesecake II recipe from I always skip the chocolate topping with this recipe because previous reviewers have mentioned that it’s too heavy for the cake and it’s just too much chocolate in one dessert.  This cheesecake is overly decadent. I like to add a hint of raspberry to lessen the sweetness of the dish.  I mix the raspberry sauce from another cheesecake recipe in the batter to give the cake a bit of tanginess and lessen the richness.

When making cheesecake, we worry about cracking.  Tips to prevent cracking that I have learned from my previous attempt:

  • Don’t over beat the batter after adding in the eggs
  • Bake in a water bath
  • Let the cake cool in the oven to avoid extreme temperature changes.

Be careful with the water bath. I suggest wrapping the cake pan in double-layer of foil and place that in a larger pan. Place both pans in the oven and pour the water in the larger pan halfway up the smaller cake pan. It’s hard to handle a water-filled pan before placing it in the oven. And you might end up, like me, have water slip into the batter.

Even with the water mishap, the cheesecake turned out great with no soggy batter.

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