Verdict: win

Cornbread is one of the many American foods I somehow missed out on during my childhood. I think I ate cornbread for the first time in high school, and it was love at first bite. I don't care much for breads, biscuits, or buns with meals, but I will never skip out on cornbread.

There's a lot of controversy over sweet vs savory cornbread, but I'm a fan of the sweeter, moist style. This recipe is pretty close to my ideal cornbread recipe. It's very simple and quick. I used Bob's Red Mill medium-grain cornmeal, which added more texture than typical cornbread (it was welcomed). I found that greasing the pan with canola/vegetable oil made the edges crispy (which was even more welcomed). I may consider scaling back the sugar by 20-25% (just a tad too sweet). This recipe is easily doubled and can be baked in a 9x13 pan for about 35 minutes.

Verdict: win

By far the best mug cake I've had. FTW.

Verdict: win

I was never impressed with cauliflower growing up. Then I discovered the beauty of roasting vegetables: roasting brings out sweetness that enhances the true flavor of the vegetable. This recipe transforms cauliflower into a naturally sweetened, salty, and spicy side. I also love the crispiness of roasted vegetables - there's something magical about those little charred ends.

Verdict: win

I love where I live in Columbus - I have access to the best food and drink this city has to offer within minutes of my home. Last week we stopped by Daily Growler and purchased a growler of Xocoveza Mocha Stout by Chris Banker/Stone/Insurgente. It is a fantastic, mexican hot chocolate-inspired stout that scored >93 points on Beer Advocate...I was won over.

Surprisingly we had a bit leftover that had gone flat, so I used the last few ounces to make beer brownies. I modified Joy the Baker's beer brownies recipe to highlight the chile-laced beer by adding a touch of ancho chile powder. Next time I'd add even more chile powder to amp up the spice, and maybe some cinnamon and/or nutmeg too. I almost ran out of all-purpose flour, so I QS'd with bread flour (which I think added some chewiness to the brownies). I used Scharffen Berger natural cocoa powder (instead of dutch-processed cocoa powder), which results in a lighter, caramel-y brownie color. For the chocolate, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips I had on hand, but it came out to sweet for my taste so next time I would use more of a bittersweet chocolate.

Still, DY thinks they're the best brownies I've ever made. The recipe did make a great cakey-yet-chewy brownie; it's probably a keeper.

Verdict: win

A few weeks ago my parents came to visit me. My dad loves fishing, so they brought me some whole fish from his most recent catch to freeze and use later. I finally had a chance to defrost the fish this week, and today I cooked it "hong shao" style with a lot of ginger and green onions. I used this easy and simple recipe from Saveur. It smelled like my mom's hong shao yu - deliciously aromatic - but next time I would use half dark and half light soy sauce. The Saveur recipe required all dark soy sauce, which made the dish too sweet and not salty enough. The original recipe is listed below.

Verdict: win

All of the meals I record on here are classified as "wins", but often times they are "wins" that are contingent upon changing something next time I would make it. This recipe is perfect as is - it's the biggest winner by far of the summer. It's also a great excuse for whipping out your cast-iron skillet. I ended up marinating the chicken overnight, but that was due to sheer laziness.

Verdict:win

Top sirloin steak was also on sale last week...I have a hard time resisting meats on sale at the grocery. Limes have become affordable again, and I had a bunch of limes to finish up last week. This recipe was great, but the trick with using less expensive cuts of steak of top sirloin is to let the steak marinate for at least overnight, to grill the steak of medium rare (more on the rare side), to let the steak sit, and to slice the steak very, very thinly against the grain. It's just difficult to create a more tender steak from a naturally chewy cut. I found that the steak was also better the day after cooking - for some reason it become more tender. For convenience, I slice it all at once prior to the first serving or prior to storing the leftovers.

Verdict: win?

Country-style ribs were on sale last week, so I purchased a bunch to try out this recipe. I halved the recipe and cooked the ribs in the crock pot on low for around 8 hours. The original recipe is posted below, but I took some liberties in using lime juice instead of orange juice for the ponzu substitute, and I did not broil the ribs. I'm not sure if it's because the liquid didn't completely cover the meat that made the meat a bit more dry, but overall it was a bit dry and quite salty. It was much more balanced chopped up and sauteed with green beans, and I imagine it'd also be great for fried rice, but I'm not sure I'd make this again without figuring out what I did wrong.

Verdict: win

About a month ago, my friend Albert won an R2-Cuervo Smoker from a raffle at Hamptons on King, our go-to and favorite bar.

He's been storing it in our back yard, and yesterday he spent 14 hours smoking this beaut.

It was worth it.


Verdict: win

I bookmarked this recipe as soon as it was posted on Serious Eats. Definitely a win with the tart/savory pork and grilled sweet mango combo. The recipe requires little active time, too boot!

I'm tempted to just make a batch of the marinade and keep it in the freezer. It's pretty bomb. For the record, lime juice + OJ is a great alternative to fresh sour orange juice, and if you're in a pinch you can use orange mango Naked Juice (just had some in the fridge - I'm not a big OJ drinker) or some other juice variation of that sort. Next time I would just grill pork chops with the mojo marinade instead of making kebabs, because it's so difficult to not overcook the kebabs.

Verdict: win

I was inspired to make this smoothie by all the recent pictures and recipes of breakfast smoothies trending on the food blogs I follow. I've been drinking coffee every morning before work and felt that a cold, coffee-flavored smoothie would be a great way to combine my morning coffee with breakfast...or dessert :) Be forewarned that this smoothie can come out thick. It's not the prettiest, but it satisfies my caffeine requirement and sweet tooth easily.

Verdict: win

Tomorrow is cookie day at work! One of the graduating residents has Celiac's, so I wanted to try to make a gluten-free cookie. I've made flourless peanut butter cookies before, but I've never made peanut butter blossoms. I chose this recipe because it incorporates dark brown sugar, which adds a dark molasses-like color and flavor, and highlights salt (love the sweet and salty combo). Next time I would use dark chocolate because I still find the cookies too sweet, and I feel that bittersweet dark chocolate would balance the cookie out a bit more. I may take out all of the white sugar next time too and just use 1 cup of dark or light brown sugar. If you are making these gluten-free, be sure to select peanut butter and chocolate that specifically state that they are gluten-free (Jif states it on the label and Hershey's lists its gluten-free products online). Nevertheless, these cookies are tasty and adorable.

Verdict: win

Officially completed my first week at my big kid job! The pharmacy is undergoing a lot of construction, so one of the guys there set up a regular potluck event until the construction is over. This week was "dip day," where we could bring in our favorite dips. I never really grew up eating dips and spreads at parties, but I did learn over the past few years that one of my favorite party foods is deviled eggs. I've never made deviled eggs, but I found this recipe for a deviled-egg spread and I was sold. Modified it to suit my needs, and it worked out well! It's essentially egg salad, but it hits all of the satisfying notes of a deviled egg.

Verdict: win

I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe yet. This was my go-to cookie recipe this past P4 year, and I also was able to share it in our monthly P4 newsletter. Here's what I wrote for the newsletter last November:

Let me start off this blurb by saying that I miss you all so much. Not the kind of “emotionally-charged-running-into-you-at-Harry’s” kind of miss you,” but a “there-is-a-gaping-hole-in-my-pharmacy-family-heart” kind of miss you. I’m on rotation at Purdue this month and, as great as it is to be back here, the moment I stepped on campus I was overcome with a great loneliness in knowing that our entire class was not here together. Sad, right? [Side note: the P1s look like babies. BABIES.]

Well, if anyone shares this same sadness, here’s a chocolate chip cookie recipe that hopefully will make you smile :) I know everyone has an ideal chocolate chip cookie, so although this may not be your perfect chocolate chip cookie, this recipe undeniably makes the best rotation year cookies. Two reasons why they’re the best rotation year cookies: 1) they taste like a lot of work, but since the recipe is for bar cookies it only takes one pan and 15 minutes of your active time before you pop them in the oven and 2) since the recipe requires very few tools, it’s incredibly easy to clean up. Super fast and super easy – perfect for us P4s. I’ve also found that many a preceptor enjoy these cookies as well…Bon appétit!

Verdict: win

I'm a bargain shopper. Always have been, always will be - it's in my genes (thanks, mom!). So when 1/2-inch pork chops are on sale for BOGO at Market District, I have to buy them. DY and I were in the mood for mustard-laden pork with caramelized onions, so I did a quick Google search, found this Food Network recipe, and then adapted it to my needs. The marinade is so quick and so easy. If you like mustard like I do, feel free to slather on more mustard while grilling the pork chops, or serve it on the side. The real surprise winner was the dash of balsamic vinegar added to the onions - it adds a umami and complex quality that I adored (if you like onions, double the recipe!). Served with a side of rice and a glass of Belgian-style ale - I was a happy camper.

Verdict: win

I was inspired by a recent trip to a newly-opened ramen restaurant to make this Asian chicken noodle salad. There's something so refreshing about a cold noodle salad during the summertime. The best part about cold noodle salads is that everything is easily modifiable. The main components of a noodle salad are the noodles, the dressing, and the mix-ins. Don't feel like roasting chicken? Grill it instead. Only have onions, carrots, and apples? Throw those in. Hate cilantro? Throw it out. Don't have peanut oil? Substitute half sesame oil and half of a neutral oil (like canola oil). Want a more peanut-y or spicy dressing? Add more peanut butter or add some chili oil. I've listed the verbatim recipe below, but feel free to modify it to your likes or what you have in your pantry like I did.

Verdict: win

I was looking for a super easy weekday chicken recipe, and fortunately this recipe popped up on my feedly. I loved it because it involves very little prep and comes together in less than 20 minutes. I used a bit more honey because my balsamic vinegar is particularly acidic. I served the chicken over salad greens and dressed the salad with the glaze from the chicken (it's very easy to double the glaze portion to use as a dressing). It made for a light and delicious dinner, especially with my sides of foccacia and a caprese salad.

Verdict: win

I've been obsessed with margaritas lately. Obsessed. I love the classic, pure flavors of a straight lime-tequila-salt combo, maybe with a touch of sweetness from sugar or a simple syrup. Limes have been mad expensive lately, so I wanted to make a grapefruit version.

Grapefruits are so cost efficient (1 giant grapefruit = $1 = 2-4 servings!) and they bestow a beautiful pink hue to the margarita. The pink comes out even better if pieces of the pulp are left instead of straining them out. I lined the rims of my cups with fancy pink salts I had to match the grapefruit's lovely color. I like my margaritas a little fruitier and sweeter, so I upped the grapefruit juice and simple syrup amounts. Everyone has their own preferences, so be sure to play around with the ratios of the components of the drink. By the way, a protein shaker bottle makes a great makeshift cocktail shaker...Enjoy!

Verdict: win

This was my second time grilling, and first time grilling without supervision :) This recipe is great if you're looking for an easy marinade when you don't feel like chopping up a bunch of stuff (ie, ginger and garlic). It also uses a relatively inexpensive cut of beef: top round (BOGO at Giant Eagle Market District when I bought it = $8 total for 2.5 lbs of steak!). It should be noted that London Broil isn't actually a type of cut, but a method of preparation. In the stores, these steaks could still be labeled as "London Broil" or "steaks for marinating"; however, the cut itself is usually top round or flank.

At first, I wasn't won over because the final dish is rather sweet for my taste (I like my hunks of beef mouth-wateringly savory). Served cold and sliced thinly against the grain the next day over salad, however, was delightful. Dipping it in hot, leftover sauce made it even better.

Some general notes to myself: I should have marinated the steak longer (>8 hours) because it was not as tender as I would have liked after resting a few minutes right off the grill. Serving the steak with the sauce is optional, but makes the dish juicier. And always, always, always cut thin slices against the grain for London Broil.

I've also become obsessed with grilling vegetables right now. I've learned that I need to grill them to almost the point of looking charred. I love how sweet grilled Vidalia onions and red bell peppers are, and grilled zucchini almost tastes like french fries. The vegetables taste great cold too. Swoon.

(Also, please excuse the poor-quality phone photos...)

Verdict: win

Overripe bananas + bourbon whiskey in one bowl without the need of a mixer...how can that not be a win?

(Please bear with the photos. It's hard to take nice photos with only my phone and without natural light.)

(Photo taken by my S3 #naturallightFTW #androidFTW)
Verdict: win

I have been dreaming of pudding cakes. I recently sampled a blueberry orange pudding loaf cake at the local grocery store (Giant Eagle Market District), and ever since then I have been obsessed with recreating it. It was a light pound cake, incredibly moist to the point that it was falling apart as I would cut a slice, and moderately sweet so I felt like I could eat the whole loaf. It completely changed my outlook on non-chocolate cakes.

The problem is, what exactly is pudding cake? Does the "pudding" refer to its texture or that it contains pudding? I have spent hours trying to understand the definition of a pudding cake, but I can't find any explanation with the recipes of the cakes that seem to resemble the pudding cake I tasted. I even took a picture of the ingredients list to try to decipher it:

All I could make out was that it uses "yellow pudding cake" (again, what is this?), sugar, flour, eggs, skim milk, baking soda, soybean oil, eggs, orange juice, blueberries, and sour cream.

Several recipes suggested "doctoring up" cake mixes, so this is what I tried first. Here is my first effort using yellow cake mix, vanilla instant pudding mix, and sour cream. I subbed in grapefruit (I may have bought 10 lbs of grapefruit recently...) and olive oil. The grapefruit was subtle (the zest only helped with the aroma), so I may add more grapefruit juice next time. I would also recommend a more neutral oil like canola oil, as the olive oil flavor was overpowering. I could still taste the boxed yellow cake flavor and it wasn't as moist as the original, so my next attempt will be a recipe from scratch. Thinking about brushing on a syrup to help with the moistness next time too.

Overall, it was tasty and incredibly easy, but it wasn't perfectly like the original. Then again, I was intensely critical of this cake after dreaming about the original for so long. Either way, I'm still confused if this falls under the definition of a pudding cake. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

***Update 5:11 PM
Okay, just tasted the center of the cake after letting it cool. Definitely more reminiscent of the evasive GEMD pudding cake. Recipe is a keeper, but still want to try making this from scratch.