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Alice Choi's blog, Hip Foodie Mom, is the freshest place to find recipes for the family, and we love how she packages her healthy and inventive meals in such a chic way. From her White Bean Chicken Chili Soup to welcome fall, Slow Cooker Spicy Asian Beef Short Ribs for Sunday supper, or her brand-new Asian Quinoa, we haven't seen a food-rut since discovering her page. If you want to get inspired, just scroll through her incredible recipe index.
Where you call home: Madison, Wis. (It'll only be one year on Nov. 1, 2014, when we moved from Seattle.)
What’s your earliest cooking memory? Growing up, both of my parents were always in the kitchen, cooking. Whether it was my father cooking a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, or my mother cooking up a big batch of Korean soup or stew, I loved seeing both of them in the kitchen. And when I was old enough to work a hot oven and the stove, my mother dragged me into the kitchen to start my "Korean food cooking lessons." At the time, I hated it, but looking back, I'm so glad my mother did that because that shaped my love and appreciation for cooking, my heritage and Korean food. The first dish I learned to make was a spicy tofu soup and it's still one of my favorites today.
How would you characterize or describe your cooking style today? My cooking style today is cooking with fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. It's seriously the smarter and only way to cook. If you're using seasonal fruits and vegetables, it's more affordable and tastes better, plus it educates you on what's in season and exposes you to new things. I also love using fresh herbs and experimenting in the kitchen.
What’s your favorite thing to cook at home? Why? I love cooking anything Asian inspired or vegetarian. My pantry (and refrigerator) is always stocked with Asian food staples like sesame oil, soy sauce and random vegetables like cabbage and bok choy so I just tend to use those things more. I also feel that it's a little healthier and lighter, and when I'm baking cookies or a chocolate cake for dessert, a little lighter and healthier for my main course doesn't hurt!
What are three things you have in the pantry at all times? Extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce and pasta. And by pasta I mean, like 6 or 7 different kinds of pasta. Spaghetti, orzo, penne, orecchiette, linguine—you name it, we probably have it.
What’s your “there’s nothing in the fridge" dinner—the one thing you often whip up with very few ingredients or perhaps very little inspiration? This has to be a stir-fry of some sort. In fact, this is often how I use up leftover vegetables that I have in the fridge. A little vegetable or olive oil, some protein, whatever leftover vegetables I have and some soy sauce and I have dinner!
What are some of your kitchen goals—i.e., skills you want to improve on or recipes you want to master? I want to take a knife skills class. I want to be able to dice an onion in like 30 seconds flat. As far as recipes are concerned, I started a culinary bucket list a few years ago and have been slowly making my way down the list. I have mastered Julia Child's beef bourguignon, making my own pasta and French macarons and still want to tackle a great coq au vin, but with my own spin and I'm still trying to master layered cakes and a great chocolate soufflé.
How has becoming a mother changed your experience as a home cook? It's changed everything! My kids are the reason I want to cook healthier, the reason I experiment and try new things so I can introduce them to new foods and they are what inspire me in the kitchen. I never thought I would bake homemade chicken tenders or homemade granola bars but I do this for them. Don't get me wrong. I still buy the frozen ones when I'm in a bind but more often than not, I set up the dredging station and we all make the chicken strips together.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks and/or food blogs? I am currently obsessed with I Am a Food Blog's new cookbook, "Easy Gourmet." Stephanie Le is the mastermind behind this award winning blog. And everyone needs to buy this cookbook. I am writing a cookbook review on it now and can't wait to tell the world about it. I also absolutely love Amanda Rettke's cookbook "Surprise Inside Cakes." This is the most beautiful and creative cake cookbook I've seen in a long time and this would seriously make the best Christmas gift for people who love to bake.
Besides other cookbooks or food blogs, where do you draw inspiration for your cooking? My parents, restaurants, chefs, other food bloggers and a visit to the farmers market. It's amazing what you can find at your local farmers market. I like to go and just walk around and pick things that I've never cooked with before and experiment at home.