Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twice Baked Brownies EQUALS Cookies

A wannabe brownie.

Awhile back, I attempted brownies and I was disappointed by what I made. This time around, I made major improvements. I followed the recipe and didn't make any substitutions. See...I do learn from my mistakes.

However, I royally screwed up in the last 7 minutes. The brownies were baking wonderfully in the oven and kitchen smelled like chocolate. Everything was going great until I got too confident. I decided to check on my brownies and they looked done even though it was 7 minutes too early. Ignoring my instinct, I took the brownies out to cool. That's mistake Number 1.

Because the brownies were undercooked, they were super moist, mushy, and wouldn't hold together. Need more clarification? I needed a spoon to eat a piece of the "brownie." yeah...they were that undercooked.

My "brilliant" idea to fix the error was mistake Number 2. I decided to bake it again. Yes. I took the room temperature brownie and stuck it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so. The brownie appeared perfect when it came out of the oven the second time. When the brownie cooled down, my mistake was much more apparent. The "brownies" were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside like a double chocolate cookie. /headdesk.

Instead of a brownie turned cake, I made a brownie turned cookie. Next time, it's going to be perfect so I can finally post the recipe.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

JSB is tricksy.

I was still in bed one morning feeling abandoned and depressed. I hear the front door open and loud footsteps coming down the hall. JSB bursts through the door into my room and exclaims, "I HAVE A SURPRISE FOR YOU!" I eyed her suspiciously. (JSB Lesson 101: Never take what she says literally.) I asked if she could show me later. She denied my request and insisted that if I don't get up now, I won't get it.

Because I'm a sucker for surprises, I crawled out of bed and followed her into the kitchen. There wasn't anything on the kitchen table so I turned to JSB. She gives me an evil smile and proudly presents to me a napkin.

Only this face can imitate my expression: O.o

"Are you giving me trash?" I ask.

JSB responds, "Open it."

I carefully open the napkin and I see a cracker with some spread.

My surprise.

I gave her the look again: o.O

Eat it.

gosh so demanding.

If you don't eat it, I'm going to take it away.

Piee puts the mystery item in her mouth] It was sweet, creamy and delicious.

What is it?

It's Goat Cheese spread from Trader Joe's.

Oh. It was the free sample from Trader Joe's that made a dangerous journey in JSB's pocket from the store to home. You know what the real shocker is? The sample actually made it home in one piece. <3 <3 JSB <3 <3 Cliff notes: This entry is dedicated to JSB and I lub her and her shenanigans.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sushi Leftovers = Plating and Food Photography 101

A. All elements on the plate are clearly shown and I'm following rule of thirds.

This was my lunch awhile back. I wasn't particularly hungry so I decided to practice plating. It's never a bad time to practice in my book.

I have arranged the photos from best to worst. Compared to my earlier photos, I have improved drastically. For example, my first blog post. Another sign that I have improved: I can critique and arrange my photos from best to worst.

B. All elements are shown. However, the composition
isn't as interesting as the first photo.

C. It's a nice over view photo, but not very dynamic. It does not engage you visually.

D. A boring overview photo.

Although my best photo is considered "nice" compared to my first blog post, there are so many other aspects I wish to improve on. I find my light source distracting, especially the highlight in the bottom left corner. My plating abilities are better, but I need jazz up my background and work on composing photos.


Until next time,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stewed Prunes with Preserved Kumquat

After I made Stewed Prunes the first time around, I was craving for more a couple days later. That very night, we were also out of oranges and all other citrus fruits. I was determined to make my prunes and I was going to find a companion for them.


I opened the fridge, searched, and found a jar of preserved kumquat. I was elated. I figured kumquats would work, because they have rinds, pulp, and a sweet taste. Since my mom preserved them in brown sugar, I should have no problem with the taste blending with the prunes.

I followed Molly's recipe again. The only change I made was replacing the citrus with kumquats.


The results were less than stellar. It tasted like boiled prunes. The kumquat didn't give off any flavor. I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing it's because the kumquats didn't have enough juice in them to make an impact on the prunes. I won't try it again with kumquats.


Note: My attempt at plating needs improvement.

Monday, November 30, 2009


A cake wannabe.

I lied. It's not a cake. It was intended to be brownie, but a cake appeared instead. How? I'm not sure....I didn't change anything in the recipe except substituting sugar with condensed milk. Apparently that can change the entire consistency of a brownie. The best way to describe the final product: it looks and feels like a cake, but tastes like a brownie. Wtf, right? =/

Back to the drawing board....


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ginger Milk Pudding/Ginger Milk Curd (薑汁撞奶) Recipe

Ginger Milk Pudding. *note: the rough texture
occurred because
of bubbles when
I stretched the milk*

I first tried Ginger Milk Pudding (薑汁撞奶) in a Hong Kong-style dessert cafe. I saw it on the menu and asked my mom what it was. My mom told me that it was ginger and milk in pudding form. I gave her a confused looked and asked her how it became a pudding. She explained that the ginger juice reacted with the milk, which caused the mixture to solidify. I thought it sounded strange, but I decided to try it. The ginger milk pudding was warm and light. It had a hint of sweetness and a tang of ginger.

(To learn more about the chemical reaction and the factors involved, click here. )

A few months later, JSB made it at home and it tasted just like the restaurant's version. When I found out how cheap and easy it was to make, I decided that it wasn't worth ordering it anymore. Last month, she finally taught me how to make it. Now I can share it with you. =) And the best part about the pudding is that it is delicious, healthy, and tastes even better on a cold day.

3 Teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon of ginger juice.

Ginger Milk Pudding (薑汁撞奶)
From JSB

Serves 1.

  • 1 TBSP of ginger juice (Add more if you want a stronger ginger flavor and if want a firmer pudding)
  • 2.5 tsps of sugar
  • 1 cup of whole milk (You can also use 1% and 2%, but the pudding will be less firm/creamy and have more water content. DO NOT USE NON-FAT. It will not set if you do.)

  1. Slice and juice ginger. I use a garlic press. Note: Use the bowl you will be setting the ginger milk pudding in. You do not want to transfer the juice to another bowl, because ginger juice will separate and you will leave the enzymes behind)
  2. Heat milk until the sides start to bubble and foam up. Do not let it go to a boil. Add sugar to the milk*Look below for another method of adding sugar [1]*.
  3. Take the milk off the heat and stretch the milk 10 times. *look below [2] for explanation* (By stretch, I mean pouring the milk from one container to the next 10 times. For example, pour milk in Pot A to Pot B. That is one time. Pour it from Pot B to Pot A. That is the second time. Repeat until you do it 1o times. One more thing, when pouring from one pot to the next, make sure some distance is involved -- approximately 1.5 to 2 feet.)

    Here's an example below...

    I can't lie. My outfit is seriously embarrassing.../hides in corner.

  4. Mix the ginger juice to ensure the layers aren't separated. (Ginger juice has a tendency to separate. If you look closely, you'll notice that ginger juice separates into a clear yellow liquid and a milky white substance. We don't want that. Make sure it's combined!)
  5. Pour milk into the bowl with the ginger juice. Cover it with a lid or plate.
  6. Wait 5 minutes and enjoy. The pudding should be set by now.

[1] JSB prefers to add sugar after the pudding has set. She takes a scoop out, pours the sugar in the hole, and lets the hot pudding melt the sugar.
[2] For those that are curious, you do this because you want the milk to be in the proper temperature range.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prunes are Ugly, but Oh so Tasty!

I love prunes, but I haven't been eating them for the past few years. Why? Prunes are firm and chewy and require me to expend energy to eat them. Lucky for me, I found this recipe when I read Orangette (Molly)'s book.

I have never tried stewed prunes before, but I figured I had nothing to lose. How bad can a soft, juicy prune with a citrus undertone be? WOW! It was amazing. I can't go back to plain ole dried prunes.

Stewed prunes for the rest of my life baaby! =D

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Easiest Green Onion/Scallion Pancake Recipe

Green Onion/Scallion Pancake

After reading Use Real Butter's post on green onion/scallion pancake and discovered the ease of making it, I wanted to make it for lunch. I told JSB about it and she gave me the "I-Don't-Care" for it look and said she only wanted one pancake. But you know what? She LIED BIG TIME! She ate two and left me only one, which is why there's a picture of only one pancake...

I had to make the pancakes another time for a more balanced photo. (see below).

Cut into quarters.

Easy Green Onion Pancake
Recipe from Use Real Butter

Servings: 3 small pancakes

Note: I halved the original recipe.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 stalks of green onion, finely chopped
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  1. Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).
  2. Make the dough, Method 2 (my mom’s instructions): In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
  3. Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into 3 pieces of equal size. Roll the pieces into balls.
  4. Place a ball of dough on a well-floured work surface and roll out into a thin circle (about 1/16th inch thickness). Spread a teaspoon of oil (I used sesame oil) evenly over the pancake (use more if needed). Sprinkle salt evenly over the pancake. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of scallions over the pancake. Roll the pancake up from one end like a rug, then curl the roll around in a spiral and pinch the end to the roll so it stays wrapped. With the palm of your hand, press the roll from the top to flatten it. Roll the pancake out to 1/8th inch thickness. Heat a tablespoon of oil on a flat, wide pan over a medium-low to medium flame until hot. Set the pancake in the oil and let fry until the bottom is crisp and golden. Flip the pancake, adding more oil as needed. Remove from heat and serve immediately or reheat in the oven.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Baked Apple Pudding

Baked Apple Pudding.

I saw this recipe for Baked Apple Pudding and it sounded interesting so I decided to try it. I amped it up by soaking some raisins in rum and adding slices of apple. In the end, this concoction wasn't for me.

The Inside.

It was dense and tasteless to me. The texture was a bit odd too. I really wished I liked it, but desserts aren't the same without butter, sugar, or eggs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Stride Gum

Stride Gum.

Today I went shopping with my friend and I saw the cutest pair of boots, but I didn't buy it. Why? I don't have a job and I thought it was ridiculous to spend money on something I didn't need. Besides, my friend convinced me that it's only the beginning of winter so there are bound to be more boots coming out. Hopefully by then, I'll have a job.

Well, as soon as I got home, I sat in front of my computer looking for boots. I know...even though I said I wouldn't buy them, I still wanted to oogle at them. So sue me. I'm sitting at the computer feeling all mopey when suddenly the door bell rings. My dad goes to answer it and he comes back in with a package. He looks at me and says, "It's for you." I gave him my "huh?" look and asks, "Are you sure?" "Yes," and tosses me the box.

I'm questioning myself at my desk. "No, I don't remember ordering anything online. Wait, are you positive? Maybe you ordered something awhile back and you forgot...It can't be. I would know if I ordered something." I finally get the tape off the box and open it.

The Box of Doom.

I see nothing. Only a huge piece of crinkled paper. I yank the paper out and I see it.

Paper in my way.

I'm thinking, "holy shit, holy shit, oh my gosh, it's here!" It's a HUGE 12 pack of stride everlasting mint (aka nonstop mint) gum.


I gotta admit, I love presents on ordinary days. The big question: Exactly, how did I get the package? It all started...

A few weeks prior to June 6, 2009, I had submitted suggestions to Stride to rename their new gum flavor: nonstop mint. Before they could pick winners, there was a glitch in the system. On June 6, 2009, they decided to give all participants that had the same name as the winning names a 12-pack box of gum. In the email, they told me it would arrive to my house in 6-8 weeks. I never received a package so I assumed the deal was off.

4 months later, I received the prize and it was such a lovely surprise. Despite not getting my boots, it was an awesome day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Simple Garlic Beet Salad

Beets on a bed of lettuce with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

About a year ago when I was still in college, I saw fresh beets and decided that it was time to try cooking them. The cooking process was relatively easy. How easy? So easy that you just need to boil it for 45 minutes. Of course, you can bake beets too. My problem was that I didn't know how to flavor the beets. After some research on the internet, I decided on a garlic and olive oil dressing.

I found out the hard way that there's a side effect to eating too many beets. The next morning when I went to the bathroom, I peed a deep, dark shade of red. I went into panic mood thinking that I had internal bleeding. After hyperventilating for a moment, I realized that the red urine came from the beets. The red urine lasted for about 2 days.

Lesson of the day: Don't eat 3 whole beets by yourself or else you risk having red urine.

A few weeks ago, my mom came home with beets and asked me to make her some. I ate some, but in moderation.

Sliced beets.

Simple Beet Salad
Servings: Enough for a family of 5 as an appetizer

  • 4 beets (2.5 - 3 inch)
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2.5 teaspoons of salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons of pepper
Note: My measurements are a guideline. Feel free to adjust to your taste.

  1. Wash beets and leave about 2 inches of stalk. Boil for about 45 minutes or until you can easily pierce a knife through the beets.
  2. Let the beets cool down. In the mean time, mince garlic.
  3. Cut the beets into strips. Lastly, mix the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and beets together.
  4. Let it chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How to Peel Garlic

Crushed Garlic.

You can easily peel a garlic's outer layer of skin by crushing it with a knife. Ta-da!

*I know, lame post....*

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Super Easy Unsweetened Applesauce

Applesauce with granola.

I remember when I was in elementary school, my mother would pack me Mott's Applesauce. On the days that I found it in my brown bag, I was on cloud 9. You have to understand, my usual lunch was plain and monotonous. Let me give you an example: wheat bread with a thin layer of mayonnaise and 1 slice of ham, and a banana. Tell me that's not torturous for a kid? That was my lunch everyday for 9 years of my life A.K.A. from kindergarten to 8th grade. In short, applesauce was a godsend even though it's baby food.

Compare the two.

I was inspired to make applesauce when I saw Every Food Fits' recipe. I didn't realize applesauce was so simple to make so I had to try it. I have attempted applesauce several times and it's been great. First time around, the applesauce was too chunky, because I didn't boil it long enough. By the fifth time, I have perfected a smooth textured applesauce.

Adapted from Every Food Fits

Serving size: half of the apples (Example: If you used 1 cup of apples, you'll get approximately 1/2 cup applesauce)

  • Apples (I used fuji.)
  • Water (I used a little less than 1/4 cup for 2 large apples and 2 small ones)
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  1. Peel the skins off the apples and cut the apples into small cubes.
  2. Put the apples into a pot, add water, and boil for 20-25 minutes on medium heat. You might have to boil it longer if the apples are still too firm.
  3. Mash the apples with a potato masher.
  4. Mix in cinnamon and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Note: The firmer the apples, the more texture the applesauce will have. The softer the apples, the smoother the applesauce.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coffee "Cakey-Bread"

A crispy exterior with a moist interior.

I was inspired by The Pioneer Woman to bake this coffee cake. I followed her recipe exactly. With the cake baking in the oven, the coffee aroma wafted through the kitchen. I was salivating until the kitchen started to small like burnt coffee. It didn't make sense, because the cake had only been in the oven for 10 minutes. I stared at the oven for a moment, then I found the culprit! My mini-toaster oven was set on the toast setting instead of the bake setting. (Just to clarify, toast means the hot rods on the top of the oven heats up, and bake means the heat comes from the bottom).

As a result of setting the oven on toast, the coffee granules had started to burn. A crust had also developed. I quickly set the oven to bake in hopes of saving the burning cake. I went as far as putting foil on top of the cake, but I don't think that helped too much.

When the cake finished baking, a nice bread crust had developed on top of my soft moist cake. My heart dropped when I saw my sad creation. No words can describe this "cake." My dad had different ideas about my "cake." He took a bite, "Wow! This is good! I love the crust!" My mouth dropped in horror, "Cakes aren't suppose to have crusts," I uttered out.

Dad: No, no, no...this is perfect. Make this again with the crust.
Me: But...but that's not what a cake is. I made a mistake.
Dad: It's not a mistake. It's called inventing something new and you should try selling this. I'm serious. Call it Cakey-Bread. *grins*

My left eye twitched and I gave him a blank stare. Thought about it for a moment and I have to admit, my dad is right. What I created wasn't a failure. It's called creative liberty aka experimenting. In my case, I created something different from what I expected. Because of my "mistake," I baked a "Cakey-Bread" that tasted really good. Nothing can beat the texture of a crispy exterior with a soft and moist interior. A cake deserves a crust and I'm going to make that next time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table

I recently borrowed A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg (aka Orangette) from the library. It was a wonderful read that kept me company for a couple of days.

The book is filled with recipes and stories about how food shaped her life. I remember laughing, crying, and smiling as I read the book. The recipes are easy to follow.

Before I read the book, I didn't think the book was worth purchasing, which is why I borrowed it. But now, I want a copy of my own.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tomato Corn Soup "wannabe"

Mmm...Warm Soup with Croutons.

This soup is deceptively easy. It appears to have fresh tomatoes, but it doesn't. Great ready for the ingredients: last night's chicken, canned corn, V8 juice, no sodium salsa from Trader Joe's, and week old bread. Now that I have listed the ingredients, it sounds pretty disgusting. I apologize dear readers for disclosing this secret. Please forgive me.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bouchon, Las Vegas

Recently, I visited Vegas with the B/F and his friends. One of his friends picked all the places for our meals. His choices were awful. The restaurants were overpriced, had overcooked and overly seasoned dishes, and a whole slew of other horrible things that I can complain about, but I won't. Finally, on the last day that we would be in Vegas, we found Bouchon.

The sourdough waffles were to die for.

My BF enjoyed the Croque Madame.

A melon salad that was infused in some sort of herb.

Some real awesome cherry spread for the bread.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Little Skillet and Kingdom Cake

Who doesn't love a cheap place to grab lunch? Little Skillet opened awhile back and it caters to the lunch crowd so it closes by 3:30 PM. It's a small menu but the food is delicious and cheap. What more can a girl ask for?

Entrance and Order Window.

My favorite: Salads with fruits! It was a mixed greens salad with nectarines, blue cheese, and citrus dressing.

Chicken and Waffles with Syrup. The perfect combo.

The chicken and waffles were absolutely delicious. Chicken was hot, crispy, and not overly seasoned. The meat was moist and tender. The best part: it wasn't greasy at all! The waffles were toasty too! Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Lunch was awesome, but dessert was lacking. I recently heard about this cupcake stall that was at the farmer's market. Since the BF and I were near the market, we decided to drop by. We picked 2 mini-cupcakes: red velvet and chocolate. They look cute, huh? However, the taste did not live up to their appearance. Frosting was overly sweet and the cake was too sweet and crumbly.

Looks can be deceiving.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chocolate Cake Fail

Kids, this is what happens when you don't follow the recipe's proportion! You get an ugly mess that's impossible to fix and eat. Lesson learned: Do not try to reduce a recipe meant for a 9 inch cake to 2 small ramekins.

Notice: the plastic glaze on top of the "cake"

For those that have been following, this resembles the 5 minute microwave cake that JSB made. This breaks my heart. I can't believe I made such a hideous thing.

The hard interior.

Ugh. I will try this again in the future...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coffee Cookie with Chocolate Chips

When I'm hurting, nothing makes me feel better than writing. In fact, I know when something is wrong with me when I wake up early. Strange? Not really. I usually wake up around 11 PM and I lounge around in bed until 12 or later. However, today I woke up at 8:30 AM and for the life of me, I could not fall asleep again. I tossed and turned, stared at the wall, and tried writing. Nothing helped. I finally crawled out of bed at 9 AM. I made tea to warm me up and here I am writing this post.

I have a vague idea of what's bothering me, but I will need to confirm it. I won't be able to figure it out until later tonight. In the mean time, I'm going to take a walk and relax my mind. Thinking too much about something you can't fix cannot be healthy.

When I'm feeling upset or emotionally off, I bake. Not necessarily for me to eat, but mostly to get my mind off of things. If my creation turns out well, it makes my problem that much smaller.

The Ingredients + Cookie

This is one of those "I am down so I'm experimenting" creation. It was only okay to me. The coffee flavor wasn't as strong as I had hoped. It's going to need some tweaking before I post up a recipe.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Family Left me...

Close-up Shot.

and I'm left with this. Well, they didn't actually leave me. They drove down to San Luis Obispo for my sister's college orientation. I didn't want to go, but I can't remember why. I decided to treat myself while they were gone by going to the farmer's market. I bought nectarines, okra, tomatoes, and fresh edamame.

For dinner, I stir-fried the okra with chili, made fried rice with egg and last night's rice, and made tomato salad.

So Colorful.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cup-a-Soup by Lipton

Oohh lala.. Check out the Box.

My mom saw this new instant noodle package, and bought it. It's called "Cup-a-Soup." Lame name, huh? There's not much to say about it, because it wasn't impressive. It lacked noodles, veggies, and it was crazy salty.

I do have a confession about the poor quality of the product...the tagline is to "kill the 3 P.M. craving." That's the only excuse "Cup-a-Soup" has for not having enough noodles in the package.


Check out the MSG and salt.

It needs more noodles!

It's so bad that I added my own veggies to improve the noodle/soup. Go go fresh onions and lettuce.
The extra additions: veggies.

Doesn't that look better?


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