• About Julie

    NJ native without the accent or the big hair. Currently residing in Beijing. Teaching English. Absorbing all things China. Exploring SE Asia.

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Recipe: one bowl mocha cake

One Bowl Mocha Cake

I made this recipe for a friend’s chocolate-themed birthday this past weekend.  What’s great about it is that if making a cake from scratch scares you at all, this is as easy as baking cookies.  There’s no heating over a stove or anything – mix everything up in a bowl and into the oven it goes.

The angle of this picture makes the appearance of the cake look better than it actually was.  The rack in my Chinese oven apparently isn’t level because when I put the layers together they were really lop-sided!  Oh well, it was delicious and the sparklers from Anna’s Mom were good entertainment!  Here’s the recipe:

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Recipe: chocolate truffle cookies

I don’t really like to bake and often end up scraping stuff I try to bake into the trash when I burn it or it doesn’t turn out right.  I thought I’d try this recipe because it seemed really easy and it got good reviews.  But be warned: this is not for the faint of heart!  You must love extremely rich chocolate desserts if you’re going to make these cookies.  They are delicious, but eating just one made my teeth hurt!  It should be renamed “death by chocolate truffle cookies!”

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Recipe: Spanish rice

I made this last night to go with baked tilapia.  If you added chicken it could be a main dish.

Spanish rice
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6

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No rise pizza & breadstick dough

I use this recipe all the time.  It’s great for pizza crust, but I use it as bread sticks more because it’s quick and way tastier than Chinese bread.  Sometimes I bake the bread sticks that we eat and freeze the leftover dough for next time.

  • 1 c warm water
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 c flour
  • optional: Italian seasoning, rosemary, thyme, Parmesan cheese, or substitute seasoned salt for regular salt
  1. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water.  Let sit for 10 minutes, or until frothy.
  2. Stir in olive oil, salt, and desired seasonings.
  3. Add flour to mixture until it no longer sticks to your hands.
  4. Form into desired shape, brush with olive oil, and bake at 350 degrees until tops are lightly browned.

Rice pudding

Oh my word, this is some of the best rice pudding I have ever tasted.  It’s easy and cheap, too!

Creamy rice pudding

  • 3/4 c uncooked white rice
  • 2 c milk, divided
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 c raisins
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil.  Add rice and stir.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. If you have a rice cooker, this is an easier option that guards against the rice on the bottom of the pot getting scorched.  If you don’t have a rice cooker, just keep a really really close eye on it.  I spent too much time this afternoon trying to scrape burnt rice remains off the bottom of my pot, ruing the decision not to use the rice cooker all the way.
  2. In another saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cooked rice, 1 1/2 cups milk, sugar, and salt.  Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15-20 minutes.  Keep watching it 🙂
  3. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk, beaten egg, and raisins.  Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla extract.  Serve warm and sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon, if desired.

As close as you can get to Chipotle

I made fajitas with fresh salsa and cilantro rice last night and it was excellent!! If you’re looking for something new to try, give these easy recipes a chance.

Marinate strips of chicken breast or flank steak for 2-5 hours:

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Stir-fry chicken/steak, then add green peppers and onions until cooked. Serve over steamed white cilantro rice with fresh salsa (below) and sour cream.

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 12 roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Preheat the broiler
  2. In a medium baking dish, place tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeno pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Checking often, boil 5-10 minutes or until the outside of vegetables is charred.
  4. Remove vegetables from heat. Remove and discard tomato cores, jalapeno stem, and garlic skins.
  5. In a food processor, coarsely chop the charred vegetables. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in cumin, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.

Nutritional information:

  • Servings per recipe: 24
  • Calories per serving: 17
  • Total fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 28mg
  • Dietary fiber: 0.4g
  • Protein: 0.4g


  • 1 pkg flat tortillas
  • lime juice
  • olive oil
  • seasoned salt


  1. Preheat oven.
  2. Cut each tortilla into 8 triangles, like a pizza.
  3. Arrange on cookie sheet or in baking dish.
  4. Combine 3 parts olive oil with 1 part lime juice in small bowl.
  5. Brush oil/juice mixture on both sides of tortilla wedges.
  6. Sprinkle seasoned salt on one side.
  7. Checking often, bake until light brown. Chips will be crispy on one side and softer on the other side.