Tag Archives: dinner

Kabocha Squash Stir Fry

In December, a really cool regional Thai restaurant called Foreign Correspondents closed after just over a year of business in Houston.

Kabocha Squash Stir Fry // The Pancake Princess

I had mixed feelings about the restaurant. It was one of those places you just want to like because of all the buzz–the interior was awesomely funky with colorful doodles on the wall and low wooden chairs, but the food seemed to be hit or miss. I went there twice: once on a doomed date where, even though he claimed he was “mostly vegetarian,” we ordered the khao soi (and I picked around the chicken to sample the duo of crispy and soupy noodles) and I ate an appropriate amount of food for a date which is to say far less than I would have otherwise consumed.

The second time was when my mom was in town and that was a glory-filled ordering of almost everything I wanted to try. The purple sticky rice was kind of meh and too sweet, the tofu curry was good, the spicy noodles were delicious, but what was really stunning–and what I ordered both times I visited–was the pumpkin stir fry.

Kabocha Squash Stir Fry // The Pancake Princess

Starchy hunks of pumpkin roasted and then sauteed until falling-apart soft and tangled in silky threads of scrambled egg, doused in a savory soy-based sauce. I kept dreaming about until finally a kabocha squash landed in my cart one day and I re-created the recipe the best I could. Guys, I JUST realized what a delicious trio oyster, fish and soy sauce are together. So much more depth than just soy sauce, my typical stir fry crutch. Aside from the roasting of the squash, this stir fry takes about 5 minutes to throw together and I HIGHLY recommend it!

PS. For my Houston readers, Artopia (a super fun party hosted by Houston Press featuring fashion, music, art and food) is this Saturday, 1/28 from 8-11pm! You can check out more about the event here (I went last year and had a blast), and enter for a chance to win a free pair of tickets on my instagram (giveaway ends Thursday at 10 a.m.)!

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Easy Tofu Oyakodon

Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake Princess

***Psst Houstonians! Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a really exciting giveaway!***

By all accounts, only taking three classes this term should make this my easiest, most relaxed few weeks of school ever. Yet working part-time, freelancing some articles, traveling, planning more travel, and making cake for fun bachelorette weekends has made for week after hectic (but enjoyable) week, requiring quick and basic comfort–and preferably healthy–food. Functional food. But most preferably delicious. This oyakodon is pretty much literally a miracle 5-ingredient, one-pan weeknight dinner that fulfills all the above requirements. Five ingredients!

My interest in oyakodon was piqued over winter break when my mom and sister ordered oyakodon at a tiny Japanese corner store in Japantown. Since they only offered the traditional chicken and rice bowl, I shared a tempura shrimp rice bowl with my brother while eyeing their delicious-looking mess of egg and rice and soy sauce. When Cynthia shared her version of oyakodon right after New Years, it couldn’t have been better timing. I’ve made it seven times since and I’d like to believe this is more a testament to the dish’s delicious qualities over my lack of creativity due to brain-sucking distractions.

Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake Princess Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake Princess Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake Princess Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake Princess Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake PrincessTofu Oyakodon // The Pancake PrincessAfter making this so many times–and getting subsequently lazier and lazier and leaving out ingredient after ingredient, I ended up with this boiled down version that I keep coming back to–I think it’s just as tasty, and maybe somehow tastes better with just five ingredients and about 15 minutes of cook time? It yields a custardy pan full of a double dose of protein with soft eggs seeping into the crevices of crumbled tofu, laced with silky onions braised in a salty miso broth that goes most excellently on slightly charred toast. It’s just salty and satisfying and SO EASY.

Even though oyakdon is traditionally a rice bowl served with a chicken and egg mixture on top, I figured if I was deviating with tofu, why not deviate from the rice too? I ate this atop rice for dinner the first few times, but after discovering the combination of chilled, straight-from-the-fridge leftovers on sizzling hot toast, it’s become a toasty, savoy breakfast staple as well.

Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake Princess
Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake Princess
Tofu Oyakodon // The Pancake PrincessTofu Oyakodon // The Pancake PrincessPS: Enter my giveaway!

For those of you in Houston looking for something fun to do on Tuesday night, enter my giveaway on Instagram to win a pair of tickets to Houston Press’ Annual Menu of Menus Extravaganza! It’s a seriously fun night full of all-you-can-eat food + drinks from restaurants across Houston. All you have to do is tag a friend in the comments!

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Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich

Disclosure: This post was done in collaboration with Houston Tidbits & Whole Foods Voss I was given a gift card to purchase seasonal produce.

Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess

I want to dub this summer the summer of picnics. Partly because I want to eat this sandwich all summer long and partly because I am really in love with the idea of picnics right now, particularly after spending an absolutely gorgeous weekend in D.C. with some of my favorite people in flawless weather that involved a lot of lazing about outside.

I’m finding that travel, even as short as weekends away, is a trigger for intense reflection on my current living situation. Based on recent travels to Chicago and D.C., I have a renewed gratitude for the booming food scene in Houston, but also a renewed longing for walkable commutes, better public transportation and a generally more happening city scene.
Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess
Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess

Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake PrincessBack to picnics: this sandwich was born from the inescapable siren call of an ancient pin that introduced me to the concept of pan bagnat, or a pressed sandwich with origins in the South of France (which traditionally includes tuna and anchovies). Shooter’s sandwiches are another similar concept, as I just learned from Serious Eats. The novelty of this sandwich, apart from the gargantuan, dramatically layered slices, lies in the fact that it’s easily assembled and very portable (i.e. perfect picnic food).

Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake PrincessVegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess

I brought this sandwich to a BBQ over Memorial Day (right before the torrential rain + flooding struck Houston) where it was happily consumed alongside grilled skewers, chips + guac, pasta salad, this tart (RIDICULOUSLY GOOD), and tons and tons of other desserts. My friend told me she was still thinking about the sandwich days later. Though that is probably just her being generous, this really is a delicious sandwich. Each element brings a lot to the sandwich in my opinion–the briny tapenade, eye-poppingly acidic marinated beets, sweet and mellow caramelized onions, tangy goat cheese, herbed and toothsome mushrooms, tender zucchini, and juicy tomatoes–but it’s also easily customized. The mushrooms could easily be dropped in favor of grilled eggplant; you could omit the goat cheese for a vegan version (or add a layer of almond feta, if you’re ambitious); you could simply layer in roasted beets instead of marinating shredded ones.

Vegetables can easily be added or subtracted, based on what’s in season; I found all of my exceptionally flavorful ingredients at a brand-new Whole Foods, where I also picked up the delicious whole wheat boule used for this sandwich. Also popcorn because hello does a more perfect picnic snack exist?

Note: I initially tried slicing the sandwich into the slices pictured in this post, but found that slicing the boule into wedges, pizza-style, allowed the sandwich to hold together better. Slice  as you desire at your own risk.

Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess

Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich


  • Caramelized onion:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups onion, sliced thinly
  • salt

  • Quick olive tapenade:
  • ¾ cup kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or ~1/2 cup of fresh parsley)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 fat clove of garlic, minced)
  • black pepper, to taste

  • Marinated beet:
  • 1 cooked beet
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • salt and pepper

  • Sauteed zucchini:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin strips

  • Sauteed thyme mushrooms:
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5 cup white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme

  • For assembling:
  • approximately 2 lb. loaf whole wheat boule (I used a Whole Foods loaf from their bakery section)
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced and drained of juices


For the caramelized onion:

Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan and add sliced onion; sprinkle liberally with salt. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden. Lower heat and add a splash of water if onions start to dry out.

For the quick olive tapenade:

In a food processor, combine all tapenade ingredients and process until a textured mixture forms.

For the marinated beet:

Shred the beet finely using a hand grater. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, mustard, and a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Let the grated beets marinate in the marinade until ready to assemble the sandwich.

For the sauteed zucchini:

Once onions are done cooking, saute the zucchini in olive oil in the same frying pan over medium heat, laying the strips in a single layer in the pan. Cook on each side until brown--this will take several batches.

_For the sauteed thyme mushrooms:

Once the zucchini is done, saute mushrooms in olive oil, thyme and salt in the same frying pan over medium heat.

To assemble:

Slice the top third of your bread boule, and then hollow the center using your hands, leaving about an inch border around all sides and making sure not to punch through any surfaces. Hollow out the top third of the loaf as well.

Stir the thyme into the goat cheese and spread over the interior of the bread boule. Layer the rest of the cooked vegetables into the bread boule until you reach the top. Place the top third of the loaf back onto the sandwich. Wrap sandwich tightly in plastic or foil and place a heavy object on top to press it at room temperature for around 4 hours, or up to overnight in the fridge. Slice into wedges (recommended) or slices (a bit trickier) when ready to serve.


Vegetarian Pressed Picnic Sandwich // The Pancake Princess

Vegan Bibimbap

Come onnnnnn weekend. I ate a lot of cookies last night. Let’s face plant into a bowl of vegetables.

Vegan Bibimbap Bowls // The Pancake Princess

Sarah B. recently talked about how a hit of acid (not that kind you fuh-reak!) is necessary in every dish. I—pause please while I shovel another pile of pickled vegetables into my mouth—couldn’t agree more.  Tanginess in addition to crunchiness makes carrots 898237x more interesting. The number two reason I’m obsessing over these bibimbap-inspired bowls is because of the pickled vegetables. The number one is the rice.

Vegan Bibimbap Bowls // The Pancake Princess

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Spanakopita Tart (vegan, GF)

Riddle me this:

Spanakopita Tart // The Pancake Princess

You’re cooking or baking for an event. You have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to make. Your fridge is stocked with the necessary ingredients. At the last second, you spend 45 minutes frantically scrolling through Pinterest in search of a more perfect cookie recipe than the one you already have, then end up making the one you originally planned on AND are late to the party. Why?

Spanakopita Tart // The Pancake Princess

No really—WHY? This happens to me, almost without fail, every time. This past weekend found me once again a hot, sweaty mess cooking up a delicious mess of gnocchi and trays on trays of cookies because I couldn’t decide on just one. Contributing to my sweat was the fact that I had already been running around all day without a chance to work out, so I decided to take a break in the middle of cooking to run out my angst in the fastest two miles I’ve run in ages, leaving my roommate to uncertainly pan-toast the gnocchi. In the end, even though I second-guessed my choices too many times, I made exactly what I knew I was going to make (deep, DEEP down) in the first place. And guess what? We were late. We ate food. The food disappeared. It was good. People complimented the cookies.

Note to self: stop second-guessing self. Unless you want to be unnecessarily CRAZY.

Spanakopita Tart // The Pancake Princess

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