Archive for August, 2009

Personal Cheesecake!

August 10, 2009

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite recipes ever. It’s super easy. Super fast. And really versatile. Meet the Personal Cheesecake:


The first time I made this recipe I made one batch (12 cheesecakes). My mother tasted one and immediately demanded that I make more so that she could take them to work. I’ve made these for countless potlucks, block parties, and birthdays. I even made them for a 50 person banquet once. Five batches were all gone by the end of the night, meaning many people ate more than one each.

The best thing about these delicious treats is the super simple recipe.


Personal Cheesecakes

6 sandwich cookies (like Oreos or vanilla versions if you want a graham cracker-ish crust, twisted open so there’s cream on both cookies)

1 lb (2 8oz. blocks) cream cheese (room temperature)

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla


Line muffin pan with paper liners and place half a cookie in the bottom of each cup, cream side up.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar.

Add eggs one at a time and mix until just incorporated.

Stir in vanilla.

Scoop 1/4 cup of cheesecake filling into each muffin liner.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15-18 minutes.


Top with whatever you’d like. For example: chocolate frosting (melted chocolate chips + a little butter), strawberry jam, lemon curd, or fresh berries.


Chicken and Potatoes

August 8, 2009

After a relaxing weekend, it is really tough to get myself out of bed at 730 in the morning to go to a boring 8am class. Getting through the rest of the day isn’t much easier. All I want to do is snuggle in my covers and nap. But alas, I must fill my head with organic chemistry.

Photo 62

Then after a long day of leaning I must cook. Because eating is necessary.

Yesterday this proved to be a daunting task. Rummaging through the refrigerator, I found all kinds of food. An eggplant, some carrots, a little chunk of smoked salmon, tomatoes, bell peppers, leftover asparagus soup… but nothing really struck my fancy.

After grumbling for a bit, attempting to start on my homework, and generally not being productive, I called my mother. And then I was inspired. My mother returns home from 8+ hours of work every day to prepare dinner for the family. No matter what happened at work that day, no matter how tired she is, by the time we’re all hungry, dinner is ready. Yesterday she shared a smidgen of her magic with me. Over the phone, she explained this very simple, very tasty dish. There is no recipe, you just pour things in until it looks/smells right.


Chicken and Potatoes

Dump chicken (I used drumsticks) and a couple slices of ginger in a nonstick pan over high heat. Make sure your pan is big enough to fit all your chicken in 1 layer. Cook about 3 minutes, then turn and cook other side for 3 minutes.

Add soy sauce, cooking wine, a little vinegar, to cover the chicken about halfway. Toss in a couple cloves of garlic (smashed with the side of a knife.)

Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cut a potato into chunks and add that to the pot. Cover and simmer for 8-10 more minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Salt to taste.

Best if served over rice, but also tastes good with bread (if that’s what you happen to have a lot of.)

Lemon Coconut Halva

August 2, 2009

When my roommate and I purchased 2 pounds of semolina from a small market in Old Oakland, the lady at the register was skeptical. She wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting. When we convinced her that  we knew how to use the stuff, she started telling us about the wonderful fresh pasta that her daughter makes. One thing led to another, and before we knew it we were in for a half-hour story about the photographs of her daughters, her son, and her grandbabies that decorated the register. She was a fascinating little lady with a rich history, a fiery personality, and bright purple eyeshadow. When we finally bid her farewell, she grabbed our elbows and proclaimed, “Don’t get into drugs or alcohol! Study hard and you will be successful in the future.” Ah the wonders of Oakland 🙂


Semolina is a yellowish flour made from durum wheat. It looks a lot like cornmeal and is often used to make pasta. (1 cup semolina + 1 egg = pasta dough). It is also used to make halva. Which is a super delicious Mediterranean dessert.

Lemon Coconut Halva

First, make a sugar syrup. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar, 2/3 cups water, and the juice of half a lemon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. It will thicken considerably .


In a slightly larger saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter.

Remove from heat and stir in:

1 cup sugar

3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup semolina

1 cup shredded coconut

3/4 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla extract


Pour into an ungreased, foil lined pan (I used and 8″ round cake pan) and bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated 350F oven.

Cut halva into 24 pieces and drizzle evenly with sugar syrup. (If the syrup got too thick, heat it until it becomes a pourable consistency.)


Eat!!! This was super tasty. The lemon flavor was a little overpowering at first, but maybe that’s because I didn’t let it cool. My second piece was a much better balance of coconut and lemon. And my third piece….and my fourth piece….heh.


Rice Pudding!

August 1, 2009


My roommate is a genius. (And also a bread winner hehe). What do you do with leftover rice when 10 loaves of bread show up in your kitchen? Ask your roommate what to do with it. Then, MAKE RICE PUDDING! Because obviously you will be eating bread with your meals, not rice, for the next week or so.


Apparently I am semi-perfectionistic. Before I make something, I have to find a recipe. So that’s what I did. I found a rice pudding recipe. And I went into the kitchen and started measuring out 3 cups of milk. My roommate found this extremely amusing. It’s rice pudding! You just dump milk in cooked rice, add sugar anddried fruits! And that put an end to my milk mesuring. Instead I snipped dried apricots into quarters.


Apparently I am also easily distracted. So we ended up with lots and lots of dried apricot quarters. That’s okay. We’ll just not use the dried cranberries…and it looked like this:


Oh the beige-ness!

So we added dried cranberries:


Much prettier! Yay.

And since we’re very impatient we ate the pudding while it was stil HOT. Mmmmm….