Author Archives for Josh Cobler

About Josh Cobler

I'm Josh, a Filipino-American student from Dallas exploring the world and all it has to offer one picture and one post at a time.

Harry Potter Butterbeer Latte/Frappuccino

Starbucks Butterbeer Frappuccino

Back in the summer, my family and I made it out to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Despite not being a big Harry Potter person (yet), I really enjoyed it! My younger brother is actually the Harry Potter person in the family—he’s reading the seventh book right now!—so he got an even bigger kick out of the place than the rest of us did.

Here's my mom, brother, and me outside Hogwarts Castle! Notice the Butterbeer in my brother's hands. :)

Here’s my mom, brother, and me outside Hogwarts Castle! Notice the Butterbeer in my brother’s hands. 🙂

When I’d go around and tell people I knew that I was gonna go to Harry Potter World, I kept hearing the same thing over and over. “You have to try the Butterbeer!”

And so, that’s what we did! We actually got the souvenir mug so we could get a ton of refills because we thought it’d look best and add to the experience.

Butterbeer at Universal Orlando Resort

Butterbeer at Universal Orlando Resort

Butterbeer apparently tastes just like cream soda, but I’ve never actually had cream soda so I can’t really compare. But hey, if the Internet and all my friends say so, then it must taste like cream soda! It’s very sweet and refreshing, especially since it was a very hot Florida day! Butterbeer comes in two types: regular and frozen. The frozen one tastes a lot better so don’t even waste your time with the regular one.

Now, I understand that not everyone will be able to go off to Orlando, pay for tickets into Universal, and buy their Butterbeer whenever you feel like it. Did I mention that getting Butterbeer in the plastic, souvenir mug can cost around $10? (You can get it in a disposable cup for $3.49 for the regular and $4.49 for the frozen, but there’s no fun in that.)

Frappuccino

So here’s the good news: you can get something very similar at a place you most likely have just around the corner—Starbucks! There are two varieties of the Starbucks Butterbeer recipe floating around—one for a latte and one for a frappuccino. I like them both, but the latte is probably the smarter one considering the weather. 🙂

They’re both ridiculously sweet—just like the real thing!—so please, please, please don’t have too much of this. Responsible wizards and witches make sure they don’t simultaneously lose all their teeth from cavities. The amount of caffeine and sugar in here definitely isn’t something you want to have very much.

Also, you can only get this during the winter, as some of these syrups are seasonal items. So try it while you can!

For more pictures of Harry Potter World, head over to my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook. There are a ton of pictures for anyone interested!

Harry Potter Frappuccino

Starbucks “Butterbeer” Latte / Frappuccino

  1. Fly your broom over to your local Three Broomsticks pub Starbucks.
  2. Tell the cashier you want the following:
    • For the latte
      • A whole milk steamer
      • Caramel syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
      • Toffee nut syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
      • Cinnamon dolce syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
      • Whipped cream and salted caramel (or creme brûlée topping) on top
    • For the frappuccino
      • A Creme Frappuccino base (needs to be whole milk)
      • Caramel syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
      • Toffee nut syrup (2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti)
      • Caramel drizzle on top

White Chocolate Toblerone Fudge

It’s really crazy to think it’s already midway through October! It feels like it hasn’t been that long since school started in late August. Maybe it’s just the ridiculous amount of things I’ve been up to lately!

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Last weekend, I went to a homecoming football game and dance with an old friend at her school. And to go along with Texan tradition, we exchanged the gigantic mums (a huge, fake chrysanthemum flower with a million long, flowing ribbons coming off it) and arm garters too. Just yesterday, I took the PSAT for my second time—the “real deal” is next year (junior year) when it counts for scholarships. (It made me choose one race, which was kind of problematic considering that I’m biracial.) Also, I’m going to my own school’s homecoming this weekend! Whew, that’s a lot of “social time” for a somewhat awkward introvert like me!

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My grandparents on my mom’s side came from the Philippines a few weeks ago, as well. With them, they brought a bunch of mini Toblerone bars—in milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate flavors! My favorite definitely has to be the white chocolate. I mean, how can you go wrong with white chocolate?

Fun Fact: White chocolate isn’t actually chocolate. It’s just a chocolate derivative. Why? Because it doesn’t have any cocoa solids!

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Toblerone is something my mom would always eat when she was younger. For her, it was just one of the many foods that made up her childhood. While I can’t say the same about mine, I’m definitely glad my mom and grandparents showed me Toblerone, because it’s amazing.

Halloween is coming up soon, so I thought you might enjoy this fudge recipe. It may not be candy, but it should satisfy your cravings!

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White Chocolate Toblerone Fudge

This recipe was Pinterest-inspired and adapted from Lea & Jay’s Bailey’s Irish Cream & Pistachio Fudge recipe.

  • 1 lb white chocolate morsels
  • 1 bar white chocolate Toblerone
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur, such as Baileys (we used McCormick)
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped

In a heavy pot, melt the chocolates and condensed milk on low heat. Add vanilla extract, salt, and Irish cream liqueur when halfway melted. Take the pan off the heat when fully melted. Stir in the pistachios and combine well. Line a shallow rectangular pan with non-stick foil (or use a lightly buttered pan). Pour the melted chocolate onto the rectangular pan. Chill until hardened. Cut into square pieces and serve.

Avocado Cilantro Cream Salsa

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Labor Day has, unfortunately, come to a close. I found myself crying myself to sleep last night, solely because my extended three-day weekend came to an untimely end. Why me? I bawled. Why so soon?

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But of course, the end of breaks are inevitable. No matter how often I’d pray as a young child for some extension of my summer/spring/fall/winter/other break, it’d never come. I remember in the winter, everyone in my third grade class performed these crazy “snow rituals” in an attempt to convince the clouds to pour out snow, ice, hail… whatever would get us out of school! Of course, Dallas isn’t the ideal place for snow (much less the blizzard we wanted to summon), and it never worked.

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Maybe it’s better, though, that the work/school week is back. When I have a day off, I usually just lie in my bed and hope I don’t have to do anything all day. (“I’m recovering!”) Weekends and vacations, as nice as they are, have a tendency to sap all motivation out of me.

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Over on Kuya’s Notebook, my personal blog, I haven’t added anything to the draft that’s been sitting in my dashboard for a good two months. Eh, oh well, I’m sure I’ll get it out eventually! (And I have all of my New York and Orlando trips to write about!) You know, you could even take a look here… This is my first post in a while! (I’ll try to get my schedule all in order again—sorry guys!)

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I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way sometimes, especially when it comes to food. Because let’s be honest, cooking anything can be exhausting if you do it all the time! I tried to bake cookies from scratch and brownies from a mix within a span of two weeks and I’m baked out.

Because I live in a land where Tex-Mex reigns supreme, here’s a fun avocado cilantro cream salsa for you. It’s not too difficult, and it’s a fun dip for chips—something you can have when you’re not in the mood for a big meal or snack. Just something small!

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Avocado Cilantro Cream Salsa

  • 1 extra-large avocado or 2 small avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cream, preferably Mexican table cream
  • 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Mix until smooth. Serve with choice of tortilla chips.

Nutella Turon

Turon is one of the easiest, most delicious little desserts I’ve ever had. What’s turon, you ask? It’s a Filipino snack made of saging (banana), langka (jackfruit), and brown sugar rolled in spring roll wrappers and fried. Here in Dallas, it’s not exactly easy to get the jackfruit—or even the same bananas!—to make the truly authentic turon, which left my mom and I to experiment.

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Your Tagalog Word of the Week:

Saging

(Meaning: Banana)

My mom first showed me what turon was not too long ago… maybe a year? (Then again, I could’ve been eating turon all my life and just never knew the name of it, so I can’t be sure.) I was taken aback by the delicious, sweet taste of the saging and langka and I just. Wanted. More.

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Turon is one of my favorite desserts, behind macarons (which I have an obsession for). The sad part is I can’t have it all the time because you just can’t get the same type of bananas here in Dallas… and I can’t find that really good jackfruit! So when you can’t make it authentically, you just have to experiment.

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My mom called for me one morning yelling, “Josh! Josh! I have this great idea for the blog!” By now, I’m so used to her calling for me with some recipe she wants to make, and half of them don’t make it past that initial “I have a great idea!” phase.

“I want to make a Nutella turon!”

My eyes lit up. Really? Turon? Let’s do it! And that’s how our turon recipe got pushed to the front of our list—above everything else we’d been planning.

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Making turon is actually really fun. I rolled a few of the turon, and it’s actually really easy. Just make sure you wrap the banana and nutella in the spring roll wrapper very tightly, or it’ll look really bad and won’t hold together very well. Also, a little something I learned is that if the wrapper itself is not sticking together and becoming a roll, then just dab a little water on it, and the wrapper will stick to that.

Here’s a little step-by-step on how to wrap the turon.

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Have fun with this turon. If you’re skeptical, just remember that this one has Nutella. And it’s a well-known scientific fact that Nutella descended from heaven into Italy in the mid-twentieth century. By virtue of having Nutella in this recipe, it’s instantly good.

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Nutella Turon

Makes one individual turon. Obviously you’ll want a LOT more so just multiply this by the number of turon you want to make. One million is a good starting number.

  • 1 spring roll wrapper
  • 1/4 of a banana — slice it as if you were making a plus-sign (+) out of the banana. So slice it in half vertically, then again horizontally
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • dollop of Nutella

Place 1/4 of a banana on top of a spring roll wrapper. Then sprinkle a little cinnamon on the banana slice. Spread Nutella on the banana slice, and begin rolling the turon. (See the above slideshow for step-by-step instructions on how to roll the turon.) Add oil in a small pan and put over heat. When hot, fry the turon until browned on both sides. Serve with your choice of dessert—we used a dulce de leche ice cream with a Nutella drizzle.

For the Nutella drizzle

Add 2 tablespoons of Nutella and 2 tablespoons of whipping cream in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then mix well. Lightly drizzle over the turon (and possibly other desserts!) for maximum deliciousness.

Have any thoughts? (I know you do, don’t lie.) Feel free to share in the comment section below. I love to hear from you guys, especially if you made this turon! (Then please, please, PLEASE tell us how it went!)

Moo Shu Tofu

Ever since I was little, Mulan has always been my hero. She was one of my favorite Disney characters, only behind Lilo and Stitch. I always admired her bravery and courage, and like most children, I completely ignored the idea that she’s a fictional character. To make matters slightly more confusing, I’d met her and her guardian dragon Mushu at Disney World in Orlando, Florida! How could she possibly be fake?

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The reason I bring this up is because my younger brother Jude watched Mulan and Mulan II for the very first time last month. When he heard my mom and I were trying to make Moo Shu Tofu, he freaked out. “NO!” he screamed. “I refuse to let you make anything with Mushu in it!”

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Right now I’m in Fort Myers, Florida. This time, the whole family is united for a week-long vacation, and Disney World is one of our stops. The Epcot park in Disney World is one of my favorite places, mostly because it represents multiple countries from around the world, and if you know me, I have a very global worldview.

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I definitely expect to go head to the China pavilion at Epcot. Why? So I can meet Mulan and Mushu, of course! And then maybe Jude will realize that my mom and I didn’t actually cook Mushu. (Besides, I think “dragons” would be considered an animal and off-limits to vegetarians. Right? Right?)

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After the hustle-and-bustle of New York City, I can’t wait to have some time to just rest and relax on the beaches of Florida. If you want to keep up with my adventures in Florida (which will mostly include Orlando) or read about my trip to New York City, you can check it out on my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook. I’ll be posting more about both trips over the course of the next few weeks so check back if you’re interested!

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And without further ado, here’s the Moo Shu Tofu recipe! Don’t worry, not a single Mushu was harmed in the making of this recipe.

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Moo Shu Tofu

Makes 12 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 block organic, extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes (about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar*
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6–8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bag (14-ounces) coleslaw mix — to make from scratch, see our Asian Coleslaw recipe
  • 12 Bibb or romaine lettuce leaves

* Some items are repeated because they are used for multiple steps.

Directions

  1. Combine the hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and tofu slices in a ziplock bag. Marinate at least 2–3 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Prepare the dipping sauce by combining the sesame oil, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and mustard powder. Set aside.
  3. Heat about 1–2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or pan. Add diced tofu to the wok, reserving the marinade, and stir-fry until browned on most sides, which should take about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
  4. Add remaining oil to the wok while still hot, and add the mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add the bag of coleslaw mix and cook until wilted. Add the tofu and the reserved marinade until well combined.
  5. Serve on lettuce leaves with the dipping sauce.

 

Vegetarian Flatbread with Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

Hello from New York City!

I just arrived in the Big Apple yesterday evening. Within just the first few hours of getting into New York, I met with some of my relatives and had dinner and dessert overlooking Times Square. The bright, flashy lights of Times Square were completely breathtaking. I’ll have a post filled with photos on Kuya’s Notebook either later today or early tomorrow.

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So what else is on the agenda this week? Tomorrow, I’m heading off to Columbia University and going to Hangawi, a vegetarian Korean restaurant, to celebrate Meatless Monday (do click the link, you never know what surprise you’ll find, wink wink)! Later this week, it’ll be pizza time—and I’ll get to eat delicious New York pizza! Yummy! All I have to do now is fold my pizza like a New Yorker, and I’ll be all set.

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The quest for the perfect pizza began in Italy, about four years ago. We were on a vacation to Sorrento, and I, as a picky eater, wanted to find the perfect pizza. The pizza I’d had from here in the United States included the usual variety: cheese, pepperoni, that weird one filled with vegetables that I wouldn’t even touch, the meat-lovers, Hawaiian, etc.

Personally, I found cheese and pepperoni to be my personal favorites (read: only ones I’d eat). The vegetable one was just plain strange and disgusting (I still feel that way about some of the veggie-lovers pizzas), and the meat-lovers pizza was just plain gross. Hawaiian pizza was my mom’s favorite—and eventually mine too before I stopped eating Canadian bacon—but that one was best left to mom.

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In Italy, my first instinct was to ask for a pepperoni pizza. Guess what kind of pizza doesn’t exist in Sorrento? (That’s right, pepperoni.) I realized the closest thing to what I was used to was margherita pizza. And that was my first experience of margherita pizza. There was another pizza I tried that even had french fries on top! How awesome is that? (Okay, maybe it’s not that cool, but I think most eleven-year-olds would have the same reaction as I did.)

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I may not have gone to Naples, a place famous for its pizza, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the pizza there in Sorrento. The best pizza I’ve had is definitely from Italy—there’s just something about it that just feels so… authentic! Although, New York may attempt to compete for that coveted “best pizza” spot… who knows?

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When we decided to share this recipe, my mom jumped at the opportunity to use some of the basil we’ve grown in our backyard. She was so excited, I just had to snap a picture of her running out of the kitchen, to our backyard, and picking it.

My mom would always make this vegan flatbread with Italian-inspired ingredients. I would always be so excited when I’d hear her say she was going to make it for dinner. When I first got my braces on, I wanted to cry because it meant I couldn’t eat it easily. (To the ire of my orthodontist, I did it anyway.) But now that my braces are off, I don’t need to worry about it anymore!

So forget what I said earlier. I think I already found the best pizza in the world.

It’s the one my mom makes.

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Vegetarian Flatbread with Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

Good for 3 people.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 eggplant, cut in rounds
  • 1 can artichoke slices
  • 1 small tomato
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 flatbread (can be substituted with pita or naan bread)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and olive oil. Process until puréed.
  3. Wash and cut the eggplant and cut it in 1/4 inch round slices
  4. Place the eggplants in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it stand for about 15 minutes to rid of excess water and for a less bitter taste.
  5. Drain the artichokes from the can and set aside. Slice the tomato thinly.
  6. Brush the bread with olive oil and spread the kalamata mixture.
  7. Layer the bread with eggplants, artichokes, and tomato. Brush with olive oil if desired.
  8. Place the pizza in the oven and cook for about 12 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted and the bread is crispy.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Dip

We’re in the final stretch of July, the last ten days before we flip the page in our calendars and face August. So while we have this last week and a half, let’s enjoy it and collectively have our tastes of summer. What do you think of as “summer food”? Personally, I’d have to say olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

This Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Dip is a perfect way to have a quick and easy start to a summer meal, especially with crunchy breads or pita chips!

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I’ll be completely honest. This is actually a precursor to tomorrow’s recipe, which will be a full meal with an Italian-influence—perfect timing for my upcoming trip to New York City!

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Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olive Spread

  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra for drizzling)

Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and the extra virgin olive oil in a food processor. Process until finely puréed. Place the mixture on a plate and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Stir well until mixture is no longer paste-like. Combine well with the oil. Serve with pita, crackers, or bread. (We highly recommend parmesan-crusted crisps!)

Waldorf Grape Salad

It’s been a few years since I last stepped foot in the Waldorf Astoria New York. It was my first trip to the Big Apple, a city I had always dreamed of seeing, even in my young, fresh-out-of-fourth-grade body. To make it even better, I was staying in the Waldorf Astoria New York, a luxury hotel in Park Avenue. It was as if I was a part of the rich and famous.

It was the luckiest trip I’ve ever been on—we were upgraded to a suite and given free breakfast for our entire stay since the hotel gave away the room we booked (we were late because of a bizarre plane delay). One night of fitting a family of four into a two-person room was heavily rewarded! And when the second part of our vacation—a flight to Florida—was abruptly cancelled because of an impending hurricane, we were able to stay in the suite AND get more free breakfasts.

As cool as seeing rooms of where Brad and Angelina slept (as well as foreign dignitaries) and sitting in John F. Kennedy’s rocking chair, my absolute favorite place in the whole city was definitely the Nintendo World Store in Rockefeller Plaza. I had my Nintendo DS with me—as always—and I was so excited to meet Mario! I’d love to say it was dumb luck that allowed my brother and me meet the red-hatted mascot of Nintendo, but the truth was, I had planned to go on a very specific day and hour to maximize my time with him.

Five years later, I haven’t been back to the Waldorf Astoria New York ever since. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience—we don’t have as many Hilton points after my dad began traveling less for work, and we definitely can’t afford another suite at a luxury hotel.

But to celebrate its memory, here’s a Waldorf grape salad made with walnuts and blue cheese.

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If you didn’t know, a Waldorf salad is made of fresh apples, celery, and walnuts, plus mayonnaise and lettuce. It got its name because it was first created in the late 19th century at the Waldorf Hotel—this was before it became the Waldorf-Astoria, which is now the Waldorf Astoria New York.

But, we decided to experiment a little and make it with grapes instead. Because why not? Pretty soon, the “Big Apple” will be known as the “Big Grape,” just because of this recipe! (Okay, maybe not.)

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Actually, I’d like to include a little travel announcement in this post…

I’m going to New York City next week!

My mom and I are both heading out to NYC next week for four days, and I can’t wait to hit some fun restaurants and places! My most recent visit was last summer (around this time) for only about a day and a half, and we squeezed out every last minute. Definitely look forward to some new restaurant reviews next week, as well as more about my trip to the city on my personal blog, Kuya’s Notebook.

One of the things I really wanted to do with this blog was include restaurant reviews from my travels. While I don’t travel as much as I would like—which would really be traveling at least every season (I enjoy traveling, if you can’t tell)—I definitely want to share the trips I do go on when I go on them!

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Be sure to stick around! We leave for Manhattan on Sunday, but don’t worry! We won’t leave you hungry—not even for a second! And you can keep updated with our travels on my personal Twitter @kuya_joshua or on Kuya’s Notebook! (Plus, our Facebook page will stay updated during our travels!)

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Waldorf Grape Salad

  • 2 pounds (about 7 cups) organic grapes (red or green… or both! Your choice!)
  • 2 tablespoons organic canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup blue cheese (add more if desired)

Wash the grapes and pat dry. In a large bowl, combine the grapes, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, kosher salt, walnuts, and blue cheese. Chill until ready to serve.

Mango Sticky Rice

In Dallas, there’s a modern Thai-Vietnamese restaurant called Malai Kitchen that has one of my—and my family’s—absolute favorite desserts: mango sticky rice. It’s to die for! I don’t even need to eat there for a meal… all I need is dessert!

This modern mango sticky rice has four basic parts: sticky rice, crisped rice treat, mango, and sweet coconut custard.

I think part of the reason I love this dessert so much is because of the mangoes. I love the vibrant, orange hue of mangoes in the Philippines. Whenever I see those nice colors, I always have flashbacks to the summers I’d spend in Manila as a young child, eating diced mangoes in the kitchen of my grandparents’ condo.

Cut Mangoes

The sweet, succulent taste of mangoes goes well in nearly everything, dessert included. And while authentic Thai mango sticky rice doesn’t have the crisped rice, I still feel like it’s a fun, Western addition to an Eastern food.

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The best way to eat this is to just take your spoon and cut off a part of the side, making sure to get all four parts: rice, crisped rice, mango, and custard. It’s a perfect afternoon pick-me-up, as well as great for guests. Because let’s be serious… who doesn’t love dessert?

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Mango Sticky Rice

  • Servings: 1-2 people
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups glutinous rice or Thai sweet rice
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 14 oz. can light coconut milk (we used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • ½ cup organic sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 crisped rice treat (you can use a store-bought one or make your own; Malai Kitchen’s recipe is below)
  • 1 ripe mango, sliced and cubed

Directions:

  1. Soak the 2 cups of rice for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. The longer it’s soaked, the stickier it will be.
  2. Add 2 ½ cups of water before cooking. You can use either a steamer or a rice cooker. (We used a rice cooker.)
  3. While the rice is cooking, begin preparing the custard. In a small pot, combine the light coconut milk, organic sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Simmer on low heat. Let it cool and chill.
  4. Slice the crisped rice treat in about ¾ inch thickness, then cut with a round cutter (depending on the size you want).
  5. When the sticky rice is cooked, let it cool before making a small patty the same size as the crisped rice treat. Lay the crisped rice on top of the sticky rice, then add the cubed mangoes on top of the crisped rice. Pour the custard on the bottom of the plate. (The leftover rice can be stored in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.)

Want to make your own crisped rice treat for this mango sticky rice? Here’s a recipe adapted from Chef Keith Cedotal of Malai Kitchen:

Rice Crispy Treat

  • 1 bag marshmallows
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 8 cups rice cereal

Melt marshmallows and butter. Add rice until coated. Spray sheet tray, and spread mixture evenly.

Quinoa Cereal (with Pecans)

Happy Monday! (I honestly never thought I’d say those words… ever!) They always say you should start your day off with breakfast since it’s the most important meal of the day and all that other stuff. But, what do you do if you (gasp!) don’t like breakfast? You look for a better, more exciting breakfast food! Take this quinoa cereal, for example—it uses one of my favorite grains!

Back when I was originally trying to go weekday vegetarian in the winter, I began frantically searching for vegetarian/vegan recipes that could sustain me from Monday through Friday (and possibly even on the weekends). I ended up finding an incredibly interesting concept—quinoa cereal! It was originally a vegetarian recipe being reposted on a vegan challenge (advising to just substitute cow’s milk for soy milk).

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At the time, I really wanted to try quinoa. (Turns out, of course, that I’ve had it many times before, but I never knew.) I ran to my mom, demanding that we try this recipe… especially since my mom and I both hate breakfast (wonder what I got that from…?). The only difference was that we used raspberries way back in December instead of blueberries now.

That ended up being my first food picture using the camera I still use today. I still look back at it and feel proud, despite some of its flaws. My photography has definitely improved since then (no more reliance on auto “food” mode!) and I know how to better set up food pictures.

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This quinoa cereal is completely vegan, but if you’re not a fan of rice milk (or the alternate organic soy milk), you can use organic 1% milk. Personally, I’m still scarred from some of the vegan documentaries I watched (like Vegucated, which is amazing by the way) to NOT use a milk alternative, especially when there’s no real difference in taste. (That, and milk sometimes makes my stomach hurt…) Personally, I think rice milk has the best taste with this recipe, but soy milk is good in here too.

Also, you can switch out agave nectar for local honey. We didn’t have any agave nectar, so my mom’s local honey was all we had. (Local honey, especially in your tea, is a great alternative to sugar, plus it helps with seasonal allergies.) Of course, if you would prefer not to use honey, agave nectar is always a good alternative.

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Quinoa Cereal with Pecans

Adapted from 101 Cookbook’s Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice milk (or organic soy milk)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup organic quinoa (rinse first!)
  • 1 cup organic blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • drizzle of agave nectar or local honey

Directions:

  1. Combine milk, water, and rinsed quinoa in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over low heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes (or until most of the liquid is absorbed).
  4. Turn off the heat, cover, then let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the blueberries and cinnamon.
  6. Transfer to individual bowls and sprinkle pecans and possibly pomegranate seeds. End with a drizzle of agave nectar/honey on each bowl to taste.