Tina Made Avocado Toast

THIS. This is my absolute favorite snack in the entire world. Like ever, in life. Probably because like this recipe, it has perfect trifecta of ingredients (avocado, cilantro, lime).

Please try it. Unless you’re one of those unfortunate people who don’t like cilantro… then… I’ve got nothing.


  • one slice of toasted sourdough bread
  • a few sprigs of cilantro
  • half a lime
  • half an avocado
  • salt & pepper

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Toast bread. Smash half an avocado onto your bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper on avocado. Sprinkle cilantro leaves on top.  Squeeze lime juice (maybe half a lime, maybe more/less). DEVOUR.

Cranberry Couscous

My friend passed on a delicious cranberry couscous recipe to me a few years back (via allrecipes.com), and I’ve made it here and there, usually for potlucks (with a few modifications). However, when I clicked back on the recipe link recently, the original recipe had completely changed! Not sure when that happened, but I really like the first version, so here it is with the modifications (you can compare it to the recipe that’s currently up, linked above– there are pretty significant differences). I made it for Thanksgiving last week but I feel like the cranberries make it also appropriate for a Christmas meal, don’t you? 🙂 Recipe below is technically for 6, but I’d say that as a side, it can serve 8-10.

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  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked couscous
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped sliced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • juice from 1/4 orange

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All the ingredients– note that I only used 1/4 the orange, 1/4 of the onion, and 1 large persian cucumber and carrot each.

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In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Cool for 10 minutes. Seed and chop cucumbers, carrots,  and onions.

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In a bowl, combine the couscous, cranberries, carrots, cucumber and red onion. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, pepper, and juice of orange.

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Pour dressing over couscous mixture; mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Toast sliced almonds by stirring on pan at medium-high heat. Turn heat to low as soon as almonds begin to brown. Tip: It will take awhile for the almonds to start browning, but once they do, they will burn fast, so watch carefully!

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Just before serving, mix in almonds. This dish explodes with so many different flavors/textures… sweet, salty, soft, crunchy, chewy, etc. Party in your mouth!

I’d recommend you make this dish at least half a day before serving, to allow the couscous to soak in the flavors of the dressing. If you’re in a time crunch, let it sit for at least a couple hours in the fridge.


Tina Made Beef Donburi

[Note: This is a scheduled post while I’m away in Korea!]

You guys. I have a recipe for beef donburi (rice bowl) that’s BETTER than the beef bowl at Yoshinoya. I know, I know. IMPOSSIBLE, you say. Dear reader, today I am going to blow your mind.

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Okay seriously though, I only eat it like once a year, but the beef bowl at Yoshinoya is one of my guilty pleasures. Admitting I go there at all ranks up there with the fact that I’ve watched every single episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette in the last 7 (to 10) seasons, including… wait for it… Bachelor Pad. Also the fact that I like to dip my flaming hot cheetos in cream cheese. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

The recipe is from Just One Cookbook (tagline: “Quick and Easy Japanese Recipes”) and this dish was the first I’ve cooked from this site. I actually rarely cook any Asian dishes (in my mind they are all difficult) so this was my tentative foray into A Whole New World.

I stuck pretty close to the original recipe but made a couple modifications, noted below. I’m positive your dish will turn out yummy using either the original version or mine– but as always, tons of pictures below for you step-by-steppers.


  • 3/4 lb. (1 pkg) thinly sliced beef for Shabu Shabu (bought from Asian market)
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 shiitake mushroom heads (increased x6 from original recipe)
  • 2 small yellow potatoes, peeled (or 1 small russet potato)
  • cooking oil
  • 1 T sugar (halved from original recipe)
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 3-4 servings of Japanese rice
  • red pickled ginger (optional, added from original recipe, bought from Asian market))
  • 3 T soy sauce*
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced*

*Substitute the soy sauce and garlic with this recipe for shiso garlic soy sauce, which is what the original recipe used

Seasoning Ingredients:

  • 1 T mirin (substituted for sake in original recipe)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

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Cook rice. Wash potatoes and mushrooms. Peel skin of potatoes and break off stems of mushrooms and discard. Slice onions, potatoes, and mushrooms into strips. BTW, if you’ve never learned how to properly/easily chop an onion, you need to read this right now– this is the best way.

UNPICTURED STEP (out of sequence, but do NOW): The original recipe uses shiso garlic soy sauce (recipe linked above) to add to this dish towards the end. Because I couldn’t find shiso leaves at the Asian market I went to (and also because you’re supposed to let it sit for at least 24 hours), I ended up combining just the soy sauce (3 T) with 2 cloves of minced garlic in a tupperware container, and shaking it vigorously. Do this step now, and set aside for later.

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In a MEDIUM sized bowl, make your seasoning by mixing together the sea salt, mirin/sake, pepper, and garlic powder. Cut meat into strips, or do what I did and just shred it with your hands (the shabu shabu meat is super thinly sliced). Add meat to the bowl of seasoning, and mix well with your hand(s).

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Add corn starch to the meat and continue to mix with your hands (do what Just One Cookbook did and sprinkle it, instead of dumping it like me -_-). Set aside. Heat cooking oil to medium high heat in a large non-stick pan/wok. Sauté potatoes and onions until they are soft.

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Add the meat and shiitake mushrooms and continue to saute until meat is cooked. Add sugar and (shiso) garlic soy sauce. BTW, though the first picture way above shows only 6 shiitake mushrooms (already tripled from the original recipe), as I was cooking this I added… more. And by more I mean I doubled them to 12. I love them, okay?! Geez.

I don’t know why I’m so sensitive about these shiitake mushrooms right now. Maybe because they remind me of the time in college my ear got severely infected after I pierced my cartilage. When I asked my roomie Sarah to take a look at it, she examined it and thoughtfully said, “It looks like a shiitake mushroom.” She’s also the one who told me about Just One Cookbook, so all is forgiven Sarah. All is forgiven.

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Scoop white rice into a bowl, and top with your beef + veggie mix. As an option, garnish with red pickled ginger. ENJOY.

PS-  My ear has since returned to normal appearance (sans cartilage earring). Thanks for caring.

Tina Made Baked White Fish with Veggies

I love white fish. I also love fast recipes. And delicious food. So when one of my favorite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, recently posted a fish recipe described as a “super quick and delicious meal,” I jumped on it.

Their tutorial (linked above) was pretty self-explanatory, but I documented the steps anyway, with just a few changes (addition/omission of a couple ingredients). Also, I added an ingredients list (with exact amounts, because remember… I’m neurotic/a step-by-step cook… and maybe you are too).

This meal is perfect to make even if you’re only cooking for one! Which is usually annoying, but it totally works for this dish because it’s so simple. I’ve already made it twice!

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  • 1 white fish fillet (I used tilapia once and swai once– both good)
  • 1/2 bundle of asparagus (about half pound)
  • 1 zucchini (added to original recipe)
  • 1 small lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter (halved from original recipe)
  • salt & pepper
  • rectangular piece of parchment paper (1.5 feet is plenty)
  • omitted from original recipe: fresh dill

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Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice zucchini into rounds and chop off ends of asparagus.

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Slice ~3/4 of lemon into thin slices. Fold parchment paper in half, and lay out zucchini and asparagus on one side of  parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. Lay lemon slices on top. Squeeze juice of remaining 1/4 lemon onto veggies.

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Using a knife, chop up garlic cloves and mash together with butter. Season fish fillet with salt and pepper, then lay on top of lemon slices. Spread butter-garlic mash over top of the fish.

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Fold the second half of the parchment paper over the fish & veggies, and fold closed (a bit trickier than it looks..!). Bake for 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. Everything will steam inside the parchment.

Voila! All done. I cannot emphasize how fast and easy this is. It’s literally ~10 minutes to prep, and while it cooks for ~10 minutes in the oven, you can clean up your kitchen, so when you’re finished eating, there will be minimal dishes to do. EXCITING.


Tina Made a Harvest Grains Salad

I rarely cook dishes without a recipe. Allrecipes.com is my best friend in the kitchen. SO when I do cook on the fly (and the dish turns out edible… or even delicious), I feel really proud of myself. Like really. It’s a rare occasion to be celebrated.


My sister recently gave me a bag of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend (contains Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa) and told me that it tastes good as a cold salad mixed with veggies and Greek dressing. Okay, fine, that’s pretty much a recipe. So sue me.

Anyway, if you’re neurotic like me (or you’re just a bad cook who needs maximum direction), then here’s exactly what I did–



  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains blend (1 1/4 c. uncooked)
  • 1.5 Persian cucumbers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • ~20 grape tomatoes, quartered (or equivalent amount of regular tomatoes, chopped)
  • 1/2 can olives (~2 oz.)


  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

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Cook 1/2 package of grains per package instructions. You can cook the grains in either water or chicken broth; I used mostly (low-sodium) chicken broth with a splash of water. You also need a tablespoon of butter!

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Set aside your cooked grain medley to cool. Meanwhile, chop your olives…

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Seed and chop your cucumbers… Chop your red onion (just 1/4)…

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Quarter your tomatoes… then put all 4 ingredients aside (in the fridge, if you prefer).

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Combine evoo, lemon juice (I cheated… use fresh lemon juice if possible!!), minced garlic, salt, and pepper and mix vigorously. Proportions can be fiddled with per taste preference (I tend to like things extra citrusy). Note: In the picture on the left, there are two cloves of garlic. I highly advise you use just one. I LOVE garlic but two was a little too much, even for me.


Once your grains have sufficiently cooled, mix in the olives, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes and refrigerate for a bit. If you’re going to serve immediately, slowly mix in the dressing, being careful not to over-dress (add & taste, add & taste). If not, then I’d recommend dressing right before serving to prevent over-saturation.

Yum! Super easy, healthy, and fresh. Perfect for a summer side dish. Serves 5.

PS- There are obviously different ingredients I could have added (e.g. fresh mint, parsley, cilantro, carrots, etc.) with different dressings, but I’m very satisfied with how this combination tasted. 🙂

Tina Made Rosemary Chicken

By no stretch of the imagination am I “good” at cooking, but I realize that it’s a very necessary life skill (sigh). With that said… Holy smokes. This is the best recipe I’ve tried in a long time. I’ve been on a let’s-eat-more-fish-and-less-chicken-and-beef kick, but this dish has ruined me because it’s been officially added to my rotation of favorites. Here it is from Food Network, rated 5 stars and all, with a few ingredient modifications in italics below.

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  • 3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large [increased to 1 lb.]
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed [increased to 3 cloves]
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes [what’s considered a pinch?! I used a dime-sized amount.]
  • Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed quarters reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each) [used 1.5 lbs. chicken thighs– also can use drumsticks]
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved [increased to 1lb., threw away the stems, and quartered]

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Preheat the oven to 450. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

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Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife.

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Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

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Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. While chicken cooks, wash and quarter cremini mushrooms. NOTE: I don’t have a cast-iron skillet so I used a regular large fry pan.

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Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon. Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon quarters to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. If you’re using a regular pan like I did, transfer everything to an oven-safe dish before putting in the oven; I used a 9″x13″ Pyrex baking dish.

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An additional change I would make for next time would be to use skin-on chicken thighs/breasts or drumsticks like the original recipe recommends. Mine was skinless, and therefore lost all crispiness. Delicious regardless. 🙂 Yields 4 servings.