Recipe: Peanut Butter Coffee Smoothie

I admit, I am not a morning person. At all. Any kind of activity before 9 am is a royal struggle. So since I'm always running late, I rarely eat breakfast on weekdays even though it's the most important meal of the day.

But to keep myself from being famished in the middle of a 10:30 am meeting, I know I have to eat something. What's easy, fast and doesn't involve the stove? A smoothie.

Inspired by Joy The Baker's Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie, I created my very own Peanut Butter Coffee Smoothie, because I need caffeine! Badly.

And boy... is this creamy, yummy, filling (thanks to oatmeal) smoothie the best. Brides and grooms on-the-go - give it a try!

1-2 shots of espresso or 1/4 cup coffee (I use my handy dandy Nespresso machine)
1 banana
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon peanut butter 
1 tablespoon of honey (or more if you like it sweeter!)
Splash of vanilla
1 cup of milk (soy milk, almond milk.. any kind is good!)
1/2 cup of ice

Blend until smooth.  Easy peasy.

Recipes & Memories: A Sneak Peek

Hello Honeys! 

This H&T Tuesday I'd like to share with you a project that is very dear to my heart...and stomach :)

When I was busy writing personal statements for colleges, my dad was busy writing up his own special piece: a cookbook for me and my sisters, so that even though we were all out of the nest, we could still have a taste of home.

This cookbook contains almost all of our favorite childhood recipes, from beef noodle soup to spinach enchiladas. It also weaves in special memories associated with these dishes, and some family history. I would even say it's a bit of a love story.

This cookbook got me through college (healthily!), and while I know most of the nearly 100 recipes by heart now, I still look over it to double-check or just to be reminded of good times. 

It lived as a word doc for many years, but I recently undertook the task of laying it out in Indesign. I want to have it up on Google Books as a Christmas present for my dad. Oops...I hope you're not reading this Baba! If you are, just pretend to be surprised!

Whenever I proofread it all the way through, the last page never fails to make me tear pops is such a poet!

The entire cookbook will be available for download on Google Books in a few weeks, hopefully in time for Christmas :)

How to Plan Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Turkey week! It's time to dig out your stretchy pants!

I moved to the US in 2002 and immediately fell in love with Thanksgiving. The food, the family and friends... the food.

Ever since then, I look forward to this Holiday all year. People ask me how I plan Thanksgiving dinner without breaking a sweat. The secret? Just like planning a wedding, the key to a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner is organization and preparation.

This is my foolproof plan.

Tria and I setting Thanksgiving dinner table last year

2 - 1.5 weeks ahead - Menu Planning / Reserve Your Turkey

Write out your menu. Tip #1: keep it simple! People won't have a better time if you have 20 dishes. My menu is:
- Turkey
- Stuffing
- 2 starch sides - mashed potatoes and candied yams
- 1 vegetable side - my fav is green bean casserole
- Gravy (yes!)
- Cranberry sauce
- 2 Pies - pecan and apple (Tip #2: if you have locals coming for dinner, ask them to bring pie! Less work for you, all the same deliciousness)

That's it! I always make cornbread stuffing but this year I think I'll try this variation with pancetta, apples and mushrooms.

Also reserve your turkey. I usually buy a fresh, range grown, organic turkey. Tip #3: Allow 3/4 pound per person. Schedule pick-up for the Monday before Thanksgiving.

1.5 - 1 week(s) ahead - Make a Shopping List / Go Shopping, Review Serveware

Make a grocery list of everything you'll need including quantities. I like to go shopping 1.5 weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. You could go the weekend before, but the grocery store will be CHAOS. I avoid it like the plague.

But will everything stay fresh, you ask? Keep celery crisp by wrapping in aluminum foil. Everything else should keep just fine.

Tip #3: Pull out all your serveware and use sticky notes to map out which dishes will go in what. If you are short on anything, you still have time to go buy it!

1 week ahead - Make Food Ahead of Time

Tip #4: Break cooking into stages. It's reduces so much stress! Make a list and check things off as you go. This is my schedule.

5 days ahead - Make pecan pie and pate brisee for apple pie. Pecan pie keeps very well if you wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge. Make 2 pate brisee discs, wrap tightly and store in fridge. Active prep: 1 hour.

4 days ahead - Make cranberry sauce. This is an easy do-ahead. Store in an air-tight container. Active prep: 20 mins.

3 days ahead - Pick-up and prepare turkey. Brine or marinade (whatever your recipe calls for) and store on bottom shelf of fridge. Use neck to make turkey stock. Store in air-tight container. Make mushroom béchamel for green bean casserole. Store in air-tight container. Active prep: 1 hour.

2 days ahead - Trim/peel/cut all vegetables. Assemble green bean casserole, place in casserole dish and refrigerate. Store rest of veggies in individual air-tight containers. Cut potatoes and yams into cubes, cover in water and refrigerate separately. Dice bread for stuffing. Bread can sit on counter overnight to dry out. Active prep: 30 mins.

1 day ahead - Make stuffing using vegetables you pre-cut day before, place in casserole dish and refrigerate. Make apple pie using 2 pate brisee discs you made ahead of time. Once cooled, cover lightly with plastic wrap or cake dome. Active prep: 1 hour.

The Big Day!

5 hours before dinner - Take turkey out of fridge and let come to room temperature for 45 mins. Set the table.

4 hours before dinner - Put turkey in oven! A 12-14 pound turkey will take 3 - 3 3/4 hours to cook. Take pecan pie out of fridge and let come to room temperature.

3 hours before dinner - Cook potatoes and yams. Mash (or whatever your recipe calls for) and keep warm over low heat.

2 hours before dinner - Make gravy using turkey stock. Keep in thermos until ready to eat. 

1 hour before dinner - Take turkey out of oven and let rest for 20 mins. Put stuffing and green bean casserole in oven to heat. Transfer yams to casserole dish and place marshmallows on top.

20-30 mins before dinner - Broil marshmallow topping on candied yams casserole. Pour gravy into gravy boat. Put cranberry sauce into serving dish. Take stuffing, candied yams and green bean casserole out of oven. Put mashed potatoes into serving bowl. And carve the turkey!

Tip #5: Don't forget to enjoy yourself and be thankful! I'm thankful for a wonderful year, my amazing husband, my family and friends, our amazing couples, and of course, my wonderful business partner, Tria.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Planning!
- Hannah x

Photos courtesy of,,,,,,,

Recipe: Cream-less Pasta Primavera

During the six months leading up to my wedding, I watched my diet like a hawk. But I love to eat, so there were inevitably days when I craved a big bowl of creamy pasta.

For all the brides (and grooms) out there watching their figures – who I’m sure feel the same way – this is my version of cream-less pasta primavera, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Spring Vegetable Pasta recipe.

What’s amazing about this recipe is that there is no cream in the sauce, but it still has a rich creamy texture because you cook the pasta like risotto (genius!) It’s also packed with tons of vegetables.

So yes, it’s true - you can have your cake and eat it too!

1 pound crimini mushrooms
2 leeks
1 pound asparagus
2 medium size zucchini or summer squash
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 cloves of garlic cloves
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
½ teaspoon lemon zest
Juice from ½ lemon
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound campanelle (or other short pasta)
1 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup (or more!) grated Parmesan cheese

I love to use my dutch oven for this recipe, but you can use whichever heavy-bottomed pot you have.

First, prep the vegetables:

Slice the crimini mushrooms. dice the light green and white parts of the leeks, slice spears into 1/2 inch pieces (don’t forget to snap the tough ends of the asparagus off and discard before dicing) and dice zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces.

Tip 1: to prepare leeks, cut off dark green tops and discard. My favorite way to wash leeks (and I’ve tried lots of different ways) is to halve them lengthwise, keeping bottoms in tact, and wash layers under running water.

Tip 2: if you’re good at chopping vegetables, chop while you cook to cut down on time! I’m not though… so I prep everything ahead :)

Cook mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until brown (about 5-7 mins.) Once the mushrooms are brown, add one clove of minced garlic and a pinch of salt; cook for 1 more min until fragrant. Transfer mushrooms to bowl and set aside.

Tip: don’t salt the mushrooms until the very end or they won’t brown!

Add one more tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add diced leeks and cook for 1-2 mins. Once they begin to brown, add asparagus spears and cook for 1-2 more mins. Then add zucchini and cook another 1-2 mins (4-6 mins total.)

Add two cloves of minced garlic and season with salt and pepper; cook 1 more min until fragrant.

Transfer vegetables to same bowl as mushrooms and set aside.

Wipe pot with paper towel. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Once shimmering, add dry pasta and toast for 4-5 minutes until they begin to brown. It will smell deliciously toasty in your kitchen!

Add white wine (a good one you’d drink!) and cook, stirring constantly, until it’s all absorbed.  I failed to take a photo of the wine – so here’s a stock photo :) This is actually one of my favorite California white wines to cook with.

Once the wine is absorbed, add stock and water to the pot. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the stock/water is absorbed (about 8-10 mins) – just like a risotto!

Tip: Taste the pasta when it’s close to done. If it’s not yet al dente, add 1/2 cup of hot water and keep stirring until absorbed and try again. Repeat if needed.

 While the pasta is cooking, mince mint leaves and zest lemon. Grab the peas and cheese – yum!

Once most of the liquid is absorbed (you’ll still want a little in the bottom of the pot because this is the sauce!), stir in the vegetables, peas, mint, lemon zest, the juice from half a lemon and the Parmesan – one cup is usually enough, but add as little or as much as you’d like. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Sprinkle just a little more Parmesan on top before serving and ENJOY!!!

For family, I love to bring the whole pot of pasta to the table. There’s something homey and decadent about everyone tucking into one big pot.

When we have guests, I like to serve the pasta in a big white dish with a little lemon and mint garnish. It’s elegant, and perfect for company!

I’m a firm believer that you should make every recipe your own. Here are some variation ideas:

  • Make vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, or vegan by leaving out the cheese.
  • Add your own favorite vegetables – spinach, broccoli, or cherry tomatoes.
  • For crunch, add some pine nuts or slivered almonds.
  • For protein, add grilled chicken, shrimp or chickpeas.
Bon appetite!

Hannah x

How to Plan a Kid’s Birthday Party

My gorgeous nephew turned 2 last week! In true Wong fashion, my sister and I started planning his birthday party months ago - I mean, planning is fun, after all! We realized quickly that while there would be a few kids at the party, most of the guests would actually be adults - family, friends of my sister and her husband, the babysitter etc.

So we wanted to make sure we planned an event that was catered to children, but that was elegant and fun for adults too!

Here are a few tips…

1) Pick a theme and let it guide your food, decorations and favors. This makes planning easy and will even give your guests an idea of what kinds of gifts to bring (they’ll thank you!) Our theme: Planes, trains and automobiles!
“Wheel” lollipop favors for the kids. We made this into a little centerpiece
Plane and train pumpkins centerpieces
Homemade birthday cake. The plane, made by my talented sister, is carved rice crispy treats covered in fondant

2) Choose one brightly colored decoration you can use in multiple places for big impact.  We found automobile foam stickers and stuck them onto construction paper cutouts. They are super cute and you'll see we used them everywhere! We also made and hung paper chains from the ceiling.
Red and green jello "stoplights." To add pizazz to food, we glued the stickers and cutouts onto toothpicks

Paper chains and helium balloons make any party festive!
3) Offer foods both kids and adults will love. Everyone loves pigs in a blanket, but it’s nice to offer something just for the adults too, like a beautiful cheese plate. If you’re offering PB+J sandwiches for the kids, offer a more grown-up turkey club for the adults.
Pigs in a blanket served with mustard and ketchup
Cheese platter for the adults
Milk for the kids among beverages for the adults
4) Make three dishes; assemble and buy the rest. This will keep you sane and remember, your friends won’t have a better time if you make everything from scratch! We made: chocolate pudding, pigs in a blanket and jello stoplights. We assembled: vegetable crudité with hummus, PB+J sandwiches, a cheese platter, and fruit salad (using pre-cut fruit). We bought: sandwiches for the adults from the local deli. Easy and delicious!
PB+J sandwiches in airplane cutouts
5)  Get creative with presentation! Even something as homey as chocolate pudding and PB+J sandwiches can be food for a fancy occasion. We served the chocolate pudding in elegant individual cups (found at any party store) and made airplane cutouts from the PB+J sandwiches.
Individual chocolate pudding cups for kids and adults!
Your family and friends will have a blast and you will too!

Happy planning!
- Hannah