I love Trader Joe's. In high school we had one right at the end of our street. One of my favorite memories of living in that house was to walk with my mom and little brother to TJ's after school to pick up ingredients for dinner. Unfortunately, the Baltimore location pretty inconvenient relative to where I live. The real problem is that since it's such a trek to get there, whenever I finally muster up the effort and time to make the trip, I spend so much money because I can't help but stock up on all of my favorites! It's really amazing though- the quality and price of everything from eggs to dried fruit is impressively competitive. That being said... I've had a running list of items to buy from TJ's ever since the last time I went. What topped my list? Red lentils! Don't ask me why... I just knew they'd be cheaper at TJ's than Whole Foods or Safeway. But as soon as I wrote it down, I got this great craving for a red lentil curry I made a couple of years ago. And as soon as I had all the ingredients to make it, I realized how great of a food blog post it would make! Red lentils get thick and creamy when you cook them, which makes for a lusciously rich and thick curry. Sometimes I'll add mushrooms, spinach, or tofu to the curry just for fun- feel free to do the same if you want!

red lentil curry

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 cup red lentils
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
1 cup water
1 spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt
cilantro for garnish

Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and spices and stir well to combine. Add the lentils and let them toast for about 3 minutes before adding the tomatoes, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered over low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the curry is thick and creamy. After removing from the heat, stir in a spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt. Garnish with cilantro and serve over white rice.


So... I'm applying to medical school this summer! I started working on a draft of my personal statement a few weeks ago just to get a head start, but when I finished it, I felt like something was still missing. It was essentially my CV but with a rationale behind each activity... so I guess it had everything it needed. But I realized this weekend that what it was missing was me. I needed it to be more passionate, more transparent with respect to who I really am as a person. I decided to throw all scientific endeavors aside and start writing from the heart to see where it led me. Sure enough, I found myself vividly describing the moment I take this bread loaf out of the oven. And soon I was inundated with ideas and analogies and words. It took me weeks to write the first version, and only a mere couple of hours to write this one. I think that in itself shows how much more passion I spilled into my writing this time around. And it's true! I'm passionate about cooking. I'm passionate about sharing my cooking. Just like how I'm passionate about providing healthcare. It might be a lengthy analogy to pull off, but it really is the most genuine way for me to describe how I feel towards being a physician. So, I'm excited! But writing it made me realize that I haven't yet posted this recipe to the blog! And it's so easy! Really! Baking bread sounds intimidating, but if you're going to start somewhere, you should start with this recipe! No kneading by hand necessary (unless you don't have an electric mixer) and you can literally let the dough rise all day while you're at work! Just put in about an hour once you get home and voila, you have yourself a bakery-quality (and a very high quality at that!) loaf of bread! This is probably my most anticipated blog post yet! Every time I bake this bread I get people asking for the recipe. And every time I bake this bread it's completely gone before it even gets to room temperature. It's actually an amazing loaf of bread. The crust is amazing, the texture is amazing, and the flavor is amazing. Plus, I like to serve it with baked brie, which makes it even more amazing! This recipe is sure to impress dinner guests. Just give it a try!!

italian bread loaf with baked brie

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
Dutch oven
1 triangle of brie
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Mix the yeast with warm water and let sit for five minutes in a warm spot until bubbly. Meanwhile, measure four cups of flour and add to a standing mixer bowl. Manually stir in the salt to distribute well, then pour the yeast water over the flour. Mix and knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes on medium speed. Alternatively, you can mix the yeast water and flour with a wooden spoon and knead on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. When the dough is smooth and elastic, it's ready. Simply coat a bowl with cooking spray or olive oil, place the dough in the bowl, cover with a lid also coated with cooking spray or olive oil, and let rise for at least 4 hours while you sip your coffee and read the newspaper or the whole day while you're at work. When you're ready to bake, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into an oval. It'll be sticky to the touch,  but try not to work with it too much or add too much flour during shaping- the more you mess with the dough, the less amazing the center texture will be. Gently pat or roll the oval out into a thick rectangle, about a foot long and ten inches wide. Fold one long end lengthwise towards the middle and the other long end on top of that one, like you're folding a letter. Turn over so that the crease is on the bottom and let rise for 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your over to 475 degrees and place your Dutch oven in the warm oven while the bread rises. Using a Dutch oven is really important for this recipe. So important that I actually listed it as an ingredient! If you want the great crust, you have to bake the bread in a ceramic dish with a lid to keep in the moisture. Make sure your dutch oven lid can withstand the heat though! The high heat is important too for the crispy crust. You can probably lower it to 450 if your lid handle will only go that high, but any lower will compromise your crust! After 45 minutes of rising and heating, carefully remove your Dutch oven from the oven and sprinkle a light coating of flower on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Carefully slice the top of your bread round to allow the bread to expand while it bakes and place the dough in the Dutch oven, taking care not to burn yourself. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes until the top just begins to turn dark brown. It should sound hollow when you tap it after baking. While the bread cools just a bit before cutting, cover your brie triangle with the chopped garlic and place in the oven in a baking dish at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted. Slice your warm bread, serve, and ENJOY!!!

Coffee time:) I know it's not a coffee post... but the mug gifted to me by some sweet friends and the beautiful French press just had to be included:)

This is what the dough will look like after rising! Super bubbly!

And a little sticky...

Roll it out...

Fold it up...

Let it rise...

And enjoy!



Cakes are difficult. Not necessarily difficult to make... just difficult to decided when to make. Think about it- you want to make cakes for events, when lots of people will be able to enjoy it. Otherwise you'll no doubt eat the whole thing yourself, which is probably not the most healthy practice. But the caveat is that it's hard to try new cake recipes when you're baking for other people because you can't try it before serving to make sure it's worthy! There are a few cakes I've been wanting to try out, but I just can't seem to find the right opportunity! I need a low pressure situation! Honestly though, maybe I just need to go back to my phase of determination to create the most perfect chocolate cake when I threw out chocolate cake after chocolate cake in dissatisfaction until I found the perfect ratio of ingredients? Or lower my standards because I'm pretty sure no one has ever complained when served cake...

It was a friend's birthday last week and I toyed with the idea of trying a new cake recipe. I almost mustered up enough courage to try something new, but then I remembered an old favorite that I hadn't made in years- tres leches cake. How could I have forgotten about it?! A light, airy cake soaked in three different delicious milk and topped with freshly made whipped cream?! This recipe actually might have been the impetus of my love for experimenting with cooking! I remember looking on Allrecipes and not feeling satisfied with any one recipe, so I decided to combine three of them. I typed up what I ended up doing, printed my version of the recipe off onto a simple white piece of printer paper, folded it up haphazardly, and added it to my mom's recipe box. Now I'm feeling all nostalgic thinking about it! Anyways, I mentioned the idea of making a tres leches cake to my friend but realized that if I made this cake, I had to post it to the blog. Because it is literally amazing. But I couldn't cut into her birthday cake just to take a picture for the blog! In the past I've made a round layer cake, but in addition to blog photos, I also had to consider transportation to the birthday potluck, so I ended up resolving to bake her birthday cake in a square, easy to transport cake pan and baking a couple mini cakes in my new Le Creuset mini cocottes for food blog fun! When I made the layer cakes I used to pour the milk over the layers, drain excess liquid off of the cake stand, and repeat until all of the milk was absorbed. Needless to say, this was time consuming and a little difficult because once the cake saturated, it tended to slip off the stand when you tipped it to drain the milk. Still fun and it made a beautiful layer cake, but honestly now that I've made it in the square pan, I don't think I'll ever go back to the layer cake! It's a really simple recipe and if you like tiramisu you will LOVE this. Maybe not your traditional birthday cake, but it might be better!

tres leches cake

1 cup white sugar, separated
5 eggs, separated
1 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream, separated
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t salt
1 shake cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottoms and sides of a 9-inch cake pan to prepare. In a standing mixer, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar until light in color and doubled in size. Stir in the flour, milk, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Pour this mixture into another bowl and clean out your mixing bowl in order to use again to whip the egg whites. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until firm peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture and pour into the prepared pan. This cake will puff quite a bit (that's what makes it so light!) so if you ended up beating your eggs so much that the cake pan is completely full, only fill to ~1/2" from the top of the cake pan and make yourself a little mini cake like I did! Bake for about 30 minutes until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch. It will dome a bit while it bakes but it should even out upon cooling. Allow to cool completely (for about an hour) before preparing the milk mixture. When cool, use a whisk to mix the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1 cup of the heavy cream in a large measuring cup with a spout. Poke many holes in the top of the cake with a fork, especially around the edges where the cake top is less porous. Then pour the milk over the cake, attempting to cover all areas equally. Cover the cake with plastic wrap (though, try not to let the cake top touch the plastic or else it will stick!) and place in the refrigerator for an hour until cool. Meanwhile, you can place your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer so that they are cold when you're ready to whip your cream. When the cake is cool, whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream on medium high for about 3 minutes until soft peaks form. Then add the powdered sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Beat on high until hard peaks form, then spread over the cake. Return the cake to the refrigerator until ready to serve and prepare to fall in love!


The idea of making biscuits popped into my head and I was instantly intimidated. No one wants to eat anything less than a perfect biscuit! I actually have very little experience with eating biscuits, much less baking them, so I really didn't even know if the perfect biscuit I'd always imagined actually existed. But once you get the idea of a still-steaming biscuit into your head, it's hard to lose! So, I decided I'd give it a try. And what a surprise! I don't think I've ever been so happy with a baking experiment! They are perfectly fluffy, flaky, and flavorful! And they are way easier to make than you might think. What else could you want? You can serve them on the side or make a breakfast sandwich out of them like I did!

buttermilk biscuits

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter, still cold
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing on top

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a fork until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and use a spatula to mix until just combined- it's okay if it's a little lumpy! Knead the dough on a floured surface a few times until the dough is a defined mass, then pat or roll out to about 3/4-1" thick. I prefer mine closer to 1" because I think it makes the inside more fluffy. Use a biscuit cutter (or a round glass works too!) to cut into circles and transfer to a baking sheet leaving an inch between each round. You should be able to get 12 biscuits from this recipe, so piece together the scraps as needed until you've used all of the dough. Poke the tops with a fork and brush the melted butter on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.