Dumpling Making Party


My friend Briana had a dumpling making party this weekend, and it was so much fun!

I even went with her to the Grand Asia Market for some pre-party grocery shopping and lunch earlier in the day. You can check out photos of our adventure on either my Facebook or Instagram account.

Dumpling Making Party

As for the dumpling making party, we all got hands on prepping the ingredients, from chopping to mixing. The dumpling filling was made with ground pork, fresh ginger, and bok choy (plus a couple other things, I think). Once everything was prepped, we hand formed hundreds of tiny dumplings. Briana was our lead dumpling making instructor, and she showed us how to fold the dumplings.

Dumpling Making Party

There were two ways to make the dumplings: 1) with the dumpling press and 2) by hand. There are videos for both on my Instagram if you want to see a visual.

I went straight for the by-hand folding. One thing I didn’t realize was that you only fold one side of the dumpling along the top. The back side stays flat/straight. Who knew? Briana family’s method was to start at one side and fold all the way down to the other. Another one of Briana’s friends showed her grandmother’s way, which was to start in the middle and fold outwards, one side at a time. They were both beautiful…once you got the folding down.

Dumpling Making Party

We filled up a few different trays full of beautiful dumplings just waiting to be steamed.

Dumpling Making Party

After a quick trip to the sauna (bamboo steamer)…

Dumpling Making Party

…they were ready to eat!

Dumpling Making Party

Attack! I tell ya, those dumplings did not last long!

Dumpling Making Party

I mean look at them!

Briana made a special dumpling dipping sauce for everyone to enjoy with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and green onion. It was very good and perfect drizzled over those warm dumplings fresh from the steamer.

Dumpling Making Party

After a few rounds of dumplings, we also enjoyed a vegetable stir-fry.

Dumpling Making Party

And for dessert – I ate my first fresh lychee. They were much easier to peel than I expected. Once you got it started, it came off pretty easily.

Dumpling Making Party

And check out my new friend. It’s Beto the beta fish. Isn’t he cute?

Thank you, Briana, for the fun dumpling making party! I can’t wait to make (and eat) more!

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe


Go ahead and book this one for your post-Easter meal – a Vegetarian Barley Blacked Eyed Pea Soup recipe. After indulging in the traditions – ham, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and what not – you’re going to want something a little on the lighter side afterwards.

But this Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup recipe isn’t just great for a post-feast recovery meal. You can use it for a light entrée any time. In fact, I made a big batch of this one Sunday and saved off individual servings to store in the freezer for later. I’ve had them after post-work workouts and just-plain lazy days, and they’ve been a relief to have on hand. Served with saltines or (my preference) toasted whole grain bread with a light smear of butter, this is easy eats perfection.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

If you’ve been reading The Chic Life for long, you know I’m a big fan of homemade soup.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

There aren’t many things I think re-heat better, and I’m so over canned soup. I haven’t had any in years since the canned versions usually have so many extra, unnecessary ingredients and entirely too much salt. With each passing year, I’m turning more and more into that stubborn old woman who knows exactly what she wants and demands nothing less, and I’m okay with that.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Did I mention there’s kale in this Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup recipe? Yep. As you know, I’m a fan of this dark green superfood. And hey, it’s one of the most hipster foods, apparently.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Guess I’d better stock up on craft beer and PBR to make this a complete meal.

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe

Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Vegetarian Barley Black Eyed Pea Soup Recipe makes for a great, light meal for lunch or dinner or even a nice, cozy snack. Enjoy with toasted whole grain bread or saltines.
*Vegetarian, vegan*
Serves: 8
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 medium-large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 32-ounce boxes broth of choice
  • 2 cans black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package (8.8 ounces) 10 minute barley from Trader Joe’s, rinsed (or sub any type of barley, but adjust cooking time, as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 6 sprays Bragg’s Amino Acids, optional
  • fresh parsley, chopped, optional
  1. Pre-heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and carrots and cook until onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add broth, black eyed peas, barley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until barley is done, 12-15 minutes (or until cooked according to package directions if you’re using another type of barley). Add more water if you want the soup more brothy.
  4. If using, spray in Bragg’s Amino Acids. Taste test and season with additional salt and/or pepper (or Bragg’s), as needed.
  5. Serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if using, and enjoy.
Note: I used 10 minute barley from Trader Joe’s, which I recently discovered. This saves a lot of cooking time since most barley cooks for more like 45-50 minutes, but you can use any type of barley you wish. Just be sure to cook the soup long enough so the barley is the texture you want.

Note: If you store the leftovers for later, you may notice the barley soaks up more of the liquid. When you go to re-heat it, you may wish to add some more broth or water to make it more liquidy.

Ingredient Note: I really like the canned black eyed peas from Eden Organic. Not only are the beans organic, the can is BPA free. The ingredients are simply organic black eyed peas, water, and kombu seaweed. Eden Organic uses the kombu instead of salt when cooking their beans since it offers many benefits, including adding flavor and working as a tenderizer for dried beans.



Happy cooking!

Cornbread Minis Recipe


So, I was working from home the other day, scavenging my freezer for something to eat for lunch when I stumbled upon a tupperware of frozen turkey chili. Score! The chili was great, but I needed something to go with it. Luckily, I ended up with the perfect accompaniment: this Cornbread Minis Recipe.

Cornbread Minis Recipe

I know a lot of people enjoy various things with chili: tortilla chips, pasta, etc. Personally, my favorite thing to go with chili is corn bread or muffins. I’ve been baking corn muffins up the last several times because I can be impatient and the muffins just bake faster than bread. Not to mention muffins are easier to share and freeze for later.

Cornbread Minis Recipe

Sometimes, I freeze the leftover corn muffins I make the same day I do the chili, but there were no corn muffins to be found in my freezer. I considered baking a whole batch of muffins. But that seemed like a bit much and my corn meal was running low. That’s when inspiration (or curiosity) struck. Could I possibly convert one of my Cake Mini recipes into a Cornbread Mini Recipe?

Cornbread Minis Recipe

I took one of my Cake Mini recipes, did some simple updates, and decided to test out the depression cake trick (vinegar & baking soda) for leavening.

Cornbread Minis Recipe

The experiment was a success! So successful, in fact, that I ate both mini corn muffins. I just had to drizzle them with a little local honey first. Mmm…

It’s not pictured here, but my favorite local honey is by Cloister Honey.

Cornbread Minis Recipe

Cornbread Minis Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
If you have the time and ingredients, I’d probably just bake up a whole batch of corn bread or corn muffins. But, if you’re ever feeling a little lazy, cooking for just yourself, or running low on baking ingredients, definitely give this recipe a whirl. This Cornbread Minis Recipe is just a little faster and more convenient…and, is even made without eggs or butter, thanks to the Depression-Cake trick I learned recently in my cake mini recipe.
The recipe makes enough for two people who want a small piece of corn bread or for one person who wants a lot (or another for later). They’re perfect with chili or even with breakfast.
*Vegetarian* *Vegan options listed below*
Serves: 2
  • 3 tablespoons corn meal
  • 2 tablespoons flour of choice (I like unbleached all purpose for this one)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons milk (or use vegan substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon flavorless oil (for example: canola)
  • ¼ teaspoon white vinegar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two ramekins with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine and then whisk together corn meal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda until even distributed.
  3. In another medium bowl, combine and then whisk together milk, oil, and vinegar until evenly mixed.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined, careful to not overmix. Batter will be lumpy. Evenly distribute batter between the two ramekins.
  5. Bake 14-16 minutes, or until top is just golden brown and corn bread is cooked through (when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).

Cornbread Minis Recipe

Happy baking! Hope you enjoy this easy Cornbread Minis Recipe :)

What’s your favorite kind of chili? Turkey, beef, vegetarian, tempeh…anything else?

Chocolate Fix Teaser


Hey chocoholics, have I got a recipe for you! Here’s a preview photo…


Soon, you can have your {chocolate} cake and eat it, too…without all the hassle of baking an entire cake. More to come soon!


By the way, besides Pinterest, I’ve also joined Instagram! My user name for both is thechiclife so please find me. I think Instagram has been especially useful for providing another POV to the blog. :)

And you can also find me on Facebook where you can get access to exclusive content. Cheers!

Meeting Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert


As soon as I found out Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert were coming to town, I knew I had to go see them. Since I don’t see concerts or shows very often, I decided to splurge on VIP tickets. Oh yea!


The show – Good vs Evil: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert.


The show started off with Anthony interrogating Eric.



Some were serious, but many questions were funny.


Then, they switched places and Eric questioned Anthony. His turn to sit in the (very tiny) hot seat.


Then, they got cozy in two big arm chairs. Unfortunately, this was my view. But, I was able to lean over to my friend Erica’s side to catch better views.



I didn’t think to take notes until near the end of the show, but I learned some interesting things.

Both Anthony and Eric purchase organic for them families. But they agree that people shouldn’t be looked down upon for not getting organic. They think you should just do the best you can.

Anthony really liked Julia Child because she lifted people up in the cooking realm. She inspired people to actually get in the kitchen and cook things.


They ended the show by taking questions from the audience.


I learned some interesting things here, too:

Their won’t eat foods:

  • Anthony – doesn’t really like scallops, natto (fermented soybeans), and doesn’t care much for sweets (ok, not “won’t eat” but that was his answer)
  • Eric – brains

Upon being asked if the Sandra Lee pseudo-food phenomenon was related to both parents working, Anthony said it makes you feel like it’s ok to be lazy. Eric mentioned that he was doing a new series called “Get Toasted – Avec Eric” which features videos with easy recipes you can make real time.

Anthony said sometimes the best food is due to context – where you are, the smell of the room, etc.

Their last meal of choice:

  • Anthony – sushi (except he described it much more in depth and I didn’t get all the details of the description – it was really detailed!)
  • Eric – country bread, shaved truffle, and a good bottle of Bordeaux

My favorite line – (I think I got this quote word for word) – “I don’t have to agree with you to respect you”. Well said.




After the show, we headed to the VIP after party at local restaurant Blue.


They had a buffet style serving of mini tasting plates.




My favorite was the braised boar shoulder over black kale farrotto with mustard di Cremona.


There was also a duck pasta…


…and pork belly slider. You may recall I had to channel Anthony the first time I had pork belly (recently), and this would actually only be my second time trying it. Not too shabby! I think I’m growing to like it.


Anthony and Eric actually sat so close to us. They were just one table away from where we were eating!


And soon enough, Erica and I jumped in line to meet them both.


I actually got kind of nervous before meeting them. I think I awkwardly said something to Anthony thanking him for inspiring me to try pork belly for the first time. I managed to request their autographs and get one photo. I only wish I had brought their books to be signed!

All in all, a fun time, though!

Do you own any books by Eric or Anthony? Which one is your favorite?

Gray Leopard {Outfit}


Firstly, I wanted to say thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments on the peanut butter post the other day. Those comments were some of the longest and most interesting recently, and I had a great time reading and responding to them. One of the comments even had me editing the post for clarity (thanks Rachael!). Click here to view the post.


I recently ordered this gray leopard blouse (saw it in the store recently, but it’s sold out online) on sale from oldnavy.com. Even though we were just running errands on Saturday, I decided to take it out for a spin. The material is flowy, but not all that soft. However, overall, I think it’s pretty comfortable, and I like that it’s machine-washable and dryable.


I originally thought to wear this top with a pair of skinny black jeans, but that seemed too safe. My overall style tends to be on the simple/safe side, and though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being simple, I’m currently working on being more a little more experimental every once in awhile. So, I decided to pair the shirt with some khaki shorts. Ooh, I know…so “daring”, but the shorts aren’t something I’d normally wear with this top. Not sure how I feel about the combo yet, but I’ll keep playing.

IMG_8843-1.jpg IMG_8849-1.jpg

By the way, Hubby urged me to do most of my photos sans sunglasses. He said I looked like the terminator with them on. Nice. :P



Leopard print blouse: Old Navy

Layering tank top: The Limited

Shorts: J Crew

Suede booties: ASOS

Studded belt: J Crew

Bracelets: local boutique


In cooking news, I purchased some gorgeous purple potatoes from the store the other day and decided to turn them into breakfast potatoes this morning to go with an omelet. I tried out a new method for preparing my Stuff-Your-Face Breakfast Potatoes that would use one less pot and would be simpler overall to prepare. It was pretty much a fail and got a little messy, but I somehow managed to salvage the potatoes enough to make them edible. As for the omelet…it was pretty much my first time trying to make a real omelet. I usually just make scrambles. I watched a video on how to make the “perfect” omelet as I was making the omelet (I know, I should have watched it first)…only to get halfway through to learn that I was supposed to broil the omelet in the pan, which wouldn’t work for me since the pan I was using wasn’t oven-safe. Doh! The omelet was a near-fail but ended up being pretty tasty (though not photogenic). Ahh…kitchen fun on a Sunday. Hopefully, some of you have omelet-making tips for me that I can use next time. ;)

Reader question #1: Do you wear shorts with blouses?

Reader question #2: Have you had any recent kitchen failures you want to share?

Reader question #3: What are your tips for making the perfect omelet?

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