Christmas got you feeling bloated? Me too. The holidays have completely ruined my wedding diet jumpstart. Luckily, that bright beacon of hope that is New Years is just around the corner, beckoning us to dust off those gym bags and drop off those few pounds that have been plaguing us since swimsuit season. Why not start with your New Year’s Eve party? With all the boozin’ and the shmoozin, you and your guests will appreciate some tasty finger food that they won’t feel guilty about the next morning. 

Enter edamame – my personal favorite health food. Not only is it a healthy snack alternative, but incredibly versatile to work with. You can keep it simple with some sea salt or dress it up with a variety of dips and sauces. I personally love making dip with it, satisfying my desire for something with a creamy texture without feeling too guilty after I look down and realized I’ve taken the last scoop. With just a few ingredients, you can add a little kick to a snack that up to now you thought only made an appearance before a sushi dinner. I personally serve this dip with a side of cheesy wonton chips – another flavorful snack that uses 4 ingredients or fewer!

Merry Mish Mash! This year, our family has combined now that we are engaged! Every event since our engagement has been extra special, celebrating lots of firsts and getting our friends and family extra excited about the upcoming nuptials.

Jay has always been really excited about trying new Vietnamese ingredients but now that he’s officially becoming a Bui, I look for even more opportunities to make family favorite dishes and incorporate Asian inspired flavors into our every day meals. The easiest way for me to do this is to use lots of fresh herbs. Vietnamese recipes are so rich with fresh herbs from the garden, making it one of the lightest and freshest cuisines, in my humble opinion. However, since it is Christmas, I’m going to indulge in a little bit of that decadent American sweet tooth with a fresh and creamy Thai Basil mousse.

I always associate mousse with fancy Michelin starred restaurants but as it turns out, it’s incredibly easy to make at home. A basic mousse is literally two ingredients: heavy cream and sugar. Toss in a little bit of flavoring, whether it be Nutella, vanilla, coffee or in this case Thai basil and you’ve got yourself a five star dessert. For another Asian variation, substitute the Thai Basil for 2 teaspoons of green tea/matcha powder for subtle yet powerful punch.

Isn’t it strange how reuniting with old faces and places brings you back to the exact age you were when you first experienced everything? I recently returned from my 5 year college reunion at Brown and am not quite ready to let go of all those warm, nostalgic feelings. Perhaps it was when I googled the difference between an IRA and a 401-k this morning that I began to ache for the comforts of college that I once took for granted. I missed my usual morning latte from Blue State Coffee. I missed the aroma of indistinguishable spices eminating from the Indian thrift shop (still not sure how they made money). But most of all I missed the dinner rush at the Ratty. 

Well, nostalgia tends to make me hungry this time it inspired me to recreate my favorite dining hall food: Spicy Cajun Chicken Pasta. I can’t quite explain what made it so comforting. Was it the perfect combination of creamy and hearty? Or was it the fact that I could have 5 servings in one sitting and still crave more? Or was it because over a bowl of this, the most stressful thing I had to worry about was who I would ask to my sorority formal? I’ll never know.

You know how people always equate the act of unveiling an unglamorous truth about something beloved to “learning how sausage is made?” This sentiment is exactly how I feel about baking. After learning that the secret to making almost every cherished American dessert is somewhere between two sticks of butter and two cups of sugar, I made a conscious effort to refrain from baking sweets all together. However, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I’m in the mood to share (the guilt).

I probably should have whipped a batch of these Chinese Almond Cookies for Lunar New Year a few weeks ago but I am more than happy to relinquish my family chef crown to my mother for family get togethers. The recipe is also insanely easy (love anything that requires one bowl and fewer than three steps) so feel free to bake a batch and share with your valentine(s) this year!