Monday, December 26, 2011

Appreciation [Boston Cream Pie]

Appreciation is showing that we care and value someone. As a teacher, working with kids bring joy when they accomplish a milestone. At a preschool level, I work with not just the children, but also their parents. It's a packaged deal and sometimes we have different opinions about discipline methods and expectations. It's my job to help the parents understand that what we do is intended to help children learn and grow. When we bump heads, I fear that I may have stepped on their toes too much so when the holidays roll around and parents go out of their way to purchase gifts of appreciation, it makes me so happy, because I know that what I do is of value to them.

The Christmas much like Thanksgiving is about showing those around you that you care about them. I brought this cake to dinner and it was a hit at Thanksgiving. All I can say, is Thank You Joy of Baking! You're magical. I made a large 9-inch cake for the dinner, but for photography purposes a mini one was made.

The components are easy to put together. The pastry cream can be made the night before, the cake in the morning, and assembled a couple hours later after the cake cools.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holidays, Whoo!

Wow. The year has certainly passed by quick. I've been so busy that I didn't realize it's nearly a new year and I have to pack! I'll be going on vacation, but I have scheduled a post to appear on Monday to keep you company!

Happy Holidays and Have a wonderful New Year! See you in 2012!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Delicious, but Ugly Series #2 - [Cheese Pancakes]

I like simple and quick when I'm craving for a snack. Ever since I discovered Vanilla Garlic and his damn posts about delicious cheese he consumes, I've been craving cheese. I specifically wanted crispy melted cheese and these pancakes satisfied my craving.

Aiiiyaaah. Overexposed image. [insert sad face]

Cheese Pancakes
adapted from Use Real Butter

Note: This is based on Use Real Butter's green onion dough and instructions. The best part, no measurements are needed and you can health it up with whole wheat flour.

1:1 ratio of whole wheat to all-purpose flour (or only all-purpose flour)
sea salt
grated cheese (Mozzarella, Cheddar, or Parmesan. Or a mix of the three)
crushed garlic (I used a garlic press)

  1. Put desired amount of flour in a bowl. For one, I use about 1/2 cup of flour. Start with 2 tablespoons of water. Mix and if it's still too dry. Add more water by teaspoons and continue mixing. If too much water is added, simply mix in a bit of flour. It's the right consistency when the dough is slightly sticky to the touch. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes until is soft and smooth. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Take 1 1/2 to 2 inches ball of dough and roll out as thin as you can. Sprinkle a bit of garlic evenly on top. Then add salt, pepper, and cheese evenly on surface as well.  Leave about 1/2 inch of untouched dough along the edge. 
  3. Start from the bottom and roll upwards so it forms a long cylinder. Start with one end and roll inwards so it starts looking like snail or cinnamon roll. Press down with the palm of your hands so it flattens the snail. Roll the dough as thin as you can. This is important, because if it's too thick you'll get burnt cheese and raw dough.
  4. Sprinkle cheese on top and press into the dough with palms of your hand. (Scroll to bottom to see visually what I'm referring to)
  5. Heat skillet over low heat. It's ready when water is sprinkled and immediately sizzles. Don't add oil to the skillet. Once the pancake is added to the pan, the cheese will release enough oil to prevent it from sticking. Place a  pancake in skillet, you know it's ready to flip when the cheese on top begins to melt. Flip pancake. Wait 40 seconds  and check to see if the bottom is nicely browned. 
  6. You're done. Serve with apple slices. A different form of cheese and crackers!

Step #4 Sprinkling cheese and pressing into pancake

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dessert for Two #2 - [Caramel Coffee Panna Cotta]

Sometimes when I'm taking the bus or waiting for someone, I start brainstorming. Flavors, cakes, cookies, and other elements explode and collide into beautiful colors. Once in awhile, a brightness will outshine all the other fireworks going off and I know it's the one to test out in the kitchen.

This is one of those ideas. In highschool, Starbuck's Caramel Frappuccino was the "thing" to spend my allowance on. At least two days a week, I would purchase a tall frappuccino and enjoy the sweet combination of caramel, whipped cream, and caffeine. After awhile, I grew out of it. It stopped tasting as wonderful and it started to taste one dimensional. It lost its "wow" factor.

With a carton of heavy cream and milk sitting in the fridge, I thought a coffee panna cotta sounded perfect, but what if I elevated it by adding caramel. It's the sophisticated version of Starbuck's Caramel Frappuccino in dessert form.

Caramel Coffee Panna Cotta
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Note: For extra Starbuck's awesomeness, garnish with caramel sauce and whipped cream. =)

Serves 2 to 4
(depending on the size of your glasses)

1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 TBSP sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp instant coffee powder

  1. In a bowl, sprinkle gelatin over milk. Let it soften while making caramel.
  2. Microwave heavy cream for 30 to 45 seconds until warm to the touch. Set aside.
  3. Sprinkle sugar in a pot over medium low heat. When the sugar starts liquefying, turn the heat to low. As the sugar turns into a dark amber, remove from heat and let it turn into a dark chestnut brown. If the colors stops, return to stove top over low heat. When the desired color is achieved, add warmed heavy cream and salt. If lumps form, dissolve over low heat.
  4. When caramel is smooth, add whole milk and coffee powder. Keep the heat on low and allow the mixture to warm up. When the gelatin dissolves, remove from heat. Whatever you do, do not let the mixture boil.
  5. In a heatproof bowl, put a strainer on top and pour the mixture. Let the mixture come to room temperature or put it in the refrigerator for 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Once the mixture cools, give it a good stir and divide it into glasses of your choice. (I have used shot glasses, martini glasses, and ramekins).
  7. Let it firm up in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Garnish with shaved chocolate or fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bees and Pumpkin [Pumpkin Truffles]

Letters appear across the screen as my fingers tap at the keyboard. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a shadow darting around. I take a look and notice a large bee crawling around the entrance to the hive. Several more bees fly in and out of the hive. A few fall down and their tiny insects legs struggle to crawl across the ground. Their wings flutter, but it does not carry them in the air. The end is near, my friends.

If you're questioning why I am heartless and destroying pollen loving insects, the bees decided to make a home out of my house walls. Yes, in between my walls. If I put my ears against the wall, I can hear low buzzing and chewing noises.

I intended to make this post Thanksgiving related, but life happens and you get to hear about it instead. I never heard about Pumpkin Truffles until I read Blunder Construction's post. The idea of a pumpkin pie in truffle form was ingenious and I ran with the idea. I added some twists that I read from Eat the Love's pumpkin pie post. I loved his idea of cooking down the pumpkin puree to intensify the flavor and adding caramel to add another layer of complexity.

I had the boyfriend bring these treats to share with his coworker. They loved the initial crack from the dark chocolate outer layer with a creamy ginger pumpkin center.

Pumpkin Truffles

Note: (1) The ginger flavor is pretty pronounced. If you aren't a fan of ginger, reduce it to 3/4 tsp. (2) If you prefer sweeter chocolate, use 2 cups chocolate chips + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to coat the truffles.

Servings 28 to 30

1 cup (220g) pumpkin puree
6 sheets (99g) graham crackers
1/2 cup (50g) sliced almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp vanilla
dash of nutmeg

1/4 cup (50g) sugar
2 TBSP heavy cream
1/8 tsp salt

150g dark chocolate

  1. In a skillet, cook pumpkin puree over medium low heat for 7 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently and stop when the puree has reduced by half and the color has darkened. Transfer the puree to a clean bowl.
  2. To the pumpkin puree, stir in cinnamon, ginger, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Microwave whipping cream for 10 - 15 seconds to warm it up.
  4. In a pot, over medium heat add sugar. Watch the sugar. When it first turns into amber, turn the heat off and let the residual heat heat continue cooking the sugar. When it stops turning color, return to the stove top to slowly heat it up again. Stop when it's a dark chestnut brown and it's smoking. Once the desired color is achieved, add heavy cream. Continue stirring as you pour the cream in. If caramel hardens, turn the heat on low and stir until smooth.
  5. Mix the hot caramel into the pumpkin puree. 
  6. In a food processor, process the crackers until it's a fine powder. Set aside 2 tablespoons for garnish. Do the same with the almonds, process it into a fine powder. Mix both together in a bowl.
  7. Add the pumpkin mixture into the dry powder and mix well.
  8. Form 1 teaspoon sized balls with your hands and placed on a cookie sheet lined with waxed or parchment paper. Cover with saran wrap and allow it firm up in the freezer for a couple of hours.
  9. Melt chocolate over a double boiler. When nearly melted, take the bowl of the heat and let the residual heat melt the rest. Drop a pumpkin ball into the chocolate and use a fork to pick it up so all the excess chocolate drips away.
  10. Place on parchment paper, garnish with reserved graham cracker crumbs, and allow it to cool. Store in fridge. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 + A Simple Pasta Dish to use up Leftover Turkey [Turkey Pesto Linguine]

With both kitchen doors closed, I turned on the heater and let the warm air wake me up in the gloomy kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. I didn't mind waking up early to make my Boston Cream Pie. I started with the pastry cream, followed by the sponge cakes. While the cakes were baking, I moved a table next to the window in the living room to get what light I could from our cloudy SF morning to take photos of the pumpkin truffles I made last night. Mid session, a high pitched beep-beep distracted me. My timer. I ran from the living room to the kitchen to check on the cakes. Perfect: lightly browned and a flat surface. After getting the cakes on the cooling rack, I packed up six shiny round truffles, grabbed my purse, and ran out the door.

Thirty minutes later, I arrived at my boyfriend's work place and shoved the truffles into his hand. Rambled about how it's pumpkin and to ask his coworkers to taste test for me. He tried asking me some questions, but I cut him off and said I need to get going and finish my cake and mashed potatoes for dinner.

After I arrived home, I immediately made ganache and assembled the Boston Cream Pie. Peeling potatoes was my next task. I managed to get the potatoes in boiling water and set up my next photo shoot: a mini Boston cream pie. Done. Time to return to the kitchen and finish mincing shallots, and squeezing and zesting a lemon. Another beep went off and it's time to drain the potatoes. Done. Time to mash and add warm milk and butter. Fold in shallots and lemon juice and zest. Glancing over at the clock, I realized it was 4:30 PM and I didn't eat anything all day except for a cup of milk in the morning

Strangely enough, I didn't feel hungry. I felt relaxed and happy, because I created dishes that I was proud of. I love hectic days centered around preparing food for people that I love. Later that night, my family and I brought pumpkin truffles, a Boston cream pie, candied yams, and lemon shallot mashed potatoes to my Auntie's house. She had roasted turkey, a side of nuo mi fan, and crab salad waiting for us.

A confession: My favorite part about Thanksgiving Day isn't the actual dinner, but the next day when my mom makes jook (rice porridge) with the turkey carcass. Oh god, orgasm in mouth. Another way to use up leftover turkey is to make a simple and easy turkey pesto pasta dish.

Turkey Pesto Linguine

Note: You can easily replace ground turkey with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Simply shred 2 handfuls of turkey, add the seasonings, and heat it up in the skillet. Set aside and continue with Step #2.

Serves 1

2 handfuls of ground turkey
1/2 tsp dried minced onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp fish sauce

1 serving of linguine/spaghetti, cooked
4 to 5 handfuls of baby spinach, washed
3 to 4 TBSP pesto

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, place ground turkey in the skillet and flatten with a spatula. Wait 2 - 3 minutes until it's brown and crispy. Flip the turkey meat over onto the other side and wait another 3 to 4 minutes. When it is cooked thoroughly, break into smaller pieces with a spatula and transfer it to a bowl. 
  2. In the same skillet over low heat, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of pesto to warm up. 
  3. When it's sizzling and you can smell the pesto, add the spinach and pasta. Add the cooked turkey when the spinach is semi-cooked. Toss the ingredients together and serve. Garnish with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NYC recap [Hawthorn Tea Recipe]

Warning: This is a photo intense post. If you just want the recipe, scroll all the way to the end.

When I visited New York last month, I was on a foodie adventure. Forget about the sights, it was all about the food. Why visit landmarks when there is a chance that a food establishment might close before you're able to visit again? I did visit a couple of landmarks... Rockefeller Center, High line, Charging Bull...that's about it...However, my friends and I did enjoy second and third lunches and dinners. Oh, shopping was a part of our day as well.

View from On Top of the Rock

Rockefeller Center

Shaved Iced Shop: So light and fluffy with awesome toppings. Perfect on a  hot day at Hester Street Fair.

This is indeed crack. I ate it for breakfast and  I was in heaven. (Yes, it is super sweet, but the crust, filling, and texture went so well together that the sugar rush wasn't even an issue)

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

il laboratorio del gelato: mango

This was my 2nd dinner. I tried the wasabi tonkotsu ramen and the broth had a hint of wasabi...oooh sent me over the edge. The ramen could use some wasn't that chewy and the order wasn't piping hot.

Over-rated. Expensive and the pizza lacked the "wow" factor.

Nuts @ Times Square (get the pun?). Those nuts4nuts carts are crazy addictive. I LOVED the cashews. I bought some to nom at the airport.

Onya: I know you can't see the udon, but the fresh udon was chewy and full of flavor. SOOOOO goood. You see all the tempera crisps? yah, self-serve so I piled it on. 

Prosperity Dumplings: it doesn't look like much, but 5 potstickers for $1 tastes amazing. You can't complain about them when it's that cheap, yo. 

Mmmm....fresh takoyaki balls

High Line was gorgeous, but People's Pop made the visit even better.  I had the golden plum pop and it was full of plum-y goodness with hints of ginger and plum flesh. I NEED to go back to NY for some more of this!!

My friend ordered the grape shaved ice. (that's his hand over there). It was pretty interesting watching the guy scrape the ice from that ice block. 

One of the most memorable moments was eating at Xi'an noodles...the noodles were wonderful and everything the reviews says it is...but what stood out for me was their hawthorn tea. It tasted like hawflakes in liquid form. WTF. Mind blowing. (It's the equivelent of Startucks's apple pie in liquid form. Say what?) I fell in love. I had NO idea that hawthorn came dried and one could make a tea out of it, it became my mission to brew tea when I returned home.

HELLO noodles.

Typical asian plating, but the chewy noodles with the spicy cumin lamb sauce was a great combo. My tea on the upper left helped kill the tingling sensation from the spicy sauce. 

When I arrived back home, the first thing I did was drop by Chinatown to purchase dried hawthorn to brew tea.

The brand I use.

Dried Hawthorn for Tea.

Dried Longan
The Tea. P.S. Please excuse my dirty window in the back ground

Hawthorn Tea (sweetened with longan)

Note: This version is much tarter and less sweet than the store version, but I prefer it that way. If you prefer it sweeter, add some rock sugar. The great thing about making Chinese teas is that you can eyeball everything, but I did weigh out ingredients for those that work better with exact numbers (and I just wanted an excuse to use my scale).

Serves 1

2 1/2 cups water
25g or 1/2 cup or 2 small handfuls of dried hawthorn
30g or 1/4 cup or 1 handful of dried longan

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. While water is boiling, rinse  hawthorn and longan a few times and let it soak in water for 10 minutes. Rinse again.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the drained ingredients into the pot. Turn down the heat and allow it simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. When finished, it should be lightly sweetened by the longan. If you prefer it sweeter, add rock sugar. You can drink the beverage hot or cold.

Monday, November 14, 2011

If you can't eat it, practice your photography skills. [Pumpkin Bar Fail]

I've been gorging on junk food since my trip to NYC. In an attempt to eat "healthier," I thought that I would create a hearty pumpkin bar for breakfast. The results: bland, creamy, and dense bar with an odd texture. Epic fail. Since I couldn't let the food go to waste, I took some photos so the "bar" served some purpose during it's lifetime.

I find the stringy fibers of the pumpkin gorgeous.

Oooh, dead looking bars.

On the outside, you're hot....on the inside, you're ugly. Why? =(

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

3 Types of Cookies From ONE Batch of Cookie Dough. Whooo! [Chocolate Snaps]

Chocolate Snaps

I went down to Anaheim this past weekend for Blizzcon 2011 and I nerded it out! LOVED D3 and I cannot wait for it to come out. It's going to be AMAZING!! Hello to all the future monks and demonhunters!

After my last post on Oct. 15, I realized that I was finally out of photos to upload. Wow. I didn't anticipate that happening. Since I've been busy with interviews and vacations this past month, I have been missing my kitchen time. Maybe that's why I lost 2 pounds this month? Today, I decided that I would finally bake chocolate snaps! On my way to the store to purchase butter, my brain started firing off different combinations that I could make with the dough. I ended up with chocolate, strawberry, and peppermint.

The recipe worked great for me! The cookies came out light and crispy. The plain chocolate was good, but the peppermint was a winner for me. It only beat strawberry because...well, peppermint > strawberry.

FYI: The photos are different from my usual style, because I wanted to experiment. Let me know what you think. =)

Strawberry Chocolate

Peppermint Snaps

Chocolate Snap Cookies
adapted from In Jennie's Kitchen

Makes 66 cookies

Note: I understand that my measurements are a mix of grams and cup/spoons, which is confusing. I should explain that those are the measurements I used. As we all know, weight and cup/spoons can vastly differ even if the recipe claims the amount is similar. For example, the original recipe called for 1g or 1/8 tsp of salt, but when I weighed the amount of salt, it was insane so I decided to use 1/8 tsp instead. I also decreased the amount of sugar used in the original, because I don't like my cookies too sweet and the amount of brown sugar was too much for me. So I opted for 4 TBSP brown sugar instead of the original 62g, which fits MY tastebuds. The adjustments works for my palette and I'm sure the original is great as well. Please visit In Jennie's Kitchen for the original recipe.

129g all-purpose flour
6g cocoa powder
3g baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
86g bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (4 oz) butter, softened
50g sugar
4 TBSP brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. Melt chocolate chips in 30 to 40 second intervals in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla extract. Beat for 1 minute until light and fluffy. Pour melted chocolate and beat for 1 minute, until well-mixed.
  5. Add flour mixture. Mix until flour is just incorporated. Beat on high for 30 seconds. The dough resembles thick cake batter.
  6. Spoon coined sized cookies onto cookie sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. I used a small spoon that scooped between 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of dough.
  7. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes.

Other flavor combinations
Strawberry Chocolate
1/2 cup of dough
4 TBSP freeze dried strawberries, crushed

Mix dough and crushed strawberries together in a separate bowl. Spoon onto cookies sheet and top each cookie with a bit of strawberry crumbs.

Peppermint Chocolate
1/2 cup of dough
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Mix together and spoon onto cookie sheet.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I can't wait for the holidays. [Molasses Oatmeal Raisin Cookies]

My first memory of oatmeal cookies were the ones my mom made. She didn't use real butter, halved the sugar, and added extra oatmeal. The results were super crispy granola like cookies. I didn't enjoy them at all.

Then I had my first taste of store brought oatmeal raisin cookies and I nearly fainted. You mean oatmeal cookies weren't always crispy? They weren't always hard and lacked sweetness and butter? You mean oatmeal can ACTUALLY taste delicious? Talk about a reality check.

It turns out that my favorite ones are chewy oatmeal cookies filled with raisins and cinnamon. If I crave for sweetness, I definitely would bake my white chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies. That's an orgasm right there. I went to the bookstore recently and found a molasses oatmeal raisin cookies recipe. I love the aroma and flavor profile of molasses so I knew I had to try the recipe.

This recipe is a winner if you enjoy the taste of molasses, spices, and chewy cookies. If Thanksgiving and Christmas had a cookie as a mascot, this would be it. From the first taste, it brings back the memories of the holidays.

Molasses Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
adapted from a cookie book from Border's (shame on me for not writing down author/title)

Note: There is a hint of salt in the cookies. If you don't enjoy that, lower the salt to 1/2 tsp.

1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
6 TBSP molasses
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup walnuts/pecans, chopped
1 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add molasses and eggs. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Add to creamed mixture.
  6. Stir in oats, nuts, and raisins.
  7. Drop teaspoonfuls of cookies on a baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I'll be back. *raWr*

Oh my lovely blog, I have not forgotten about you! Life has simply occupied my time. I have recipes waiting to be published...Please be patient!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Keep it Simple. [Cinnamon Raisin Pretzel Sticks]

Raisins are delicious healthy morsels that I can't get enough in my baked goods. I love the sweetness and chewiness they provide. I already have a default raisin bread recipe that my family enjoys. I don't care much for it, because it contains whole wheat. Bleech. Today I decided to make something for myself instead of catering to my family's taste buds.

Wow. This creation was right up my alley. Chewy pretzels with yummy raisins and a hint of cinnamon sugar. What more can I ask for? Actually, there is one thing. This creation certainly isn't as moist as the original recipe. I suspect it's because the raisins weren't rehydrated so it absorbed all the moisture from the dough. In the recipe below, I suggest that the raisins be given time to rehydrate.

Cinnamon Raisin Pretzel Sticks
adapted from SugarLaw

Note: These pretzels are chewy with a hint of cinnamon. It's not overwhelmingly sweet so if you have a sweet tooth, double the amount of sugar/cinnamon mixture for sprinkling. 

1 tsp active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1/3 cup warm water

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup of raisins, sprinkled with water and allow it to sit for 30 minutes

1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar

3 TBSP baking soda
3 cups hot water

  1. Dissolve yeast in water and pinch of sugar for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix flour with cinnamon until evenly distributed. Add sugar, salt, canola oil, vanilla extract, and yeast. Knead until combined, a few minutes. 
  3. Make a ball and flatten it into a pancake. Sprinkle half of the raisins on there and fold the dough several times to incorporate the raisins into the dough. Repeat this step one more time with the rest of the raisins. 
  4. Let the dough rise in a greased bowl until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  6. When dough has risen, pinch into 6 portions and roll into a long strand.
  7. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Stir baking soda until dissolved. Dip Pretzel in mixture for 15 seconds. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (mix 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp sugar).
  8. Bake for 8 minutes or until browned.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Do you have another voice in your head? [Candied Walnuts Recipe]

Toasting walnuts.

Regardless of where I am or what I'm doing, my mom's voice is in my head telling me what to do and giving her critiques of me. She's harsh. Often times, I hear "You're not good enough" or "What's the point of that? It's useless." The voice in my head is never positive. Without realizing it, I have carried this voice with me throughout my years and I don't think it's done me any good. Yes, it's kept me out of trouble, but my confidence and self-esteem is shot. Trying activities or engaging in situations outside of my comfort zone is terrifying and my first thought is always that I'll fail. To get past that point and start chasing my dreams is difficult. I can often feel her unhappy gaze on the back of my head. I am accustomed to following my mom's shadow and I often struggle to come up with what I want and not what she thinks I should do.

I love watching sugar suddenly turn into liquid form.

My current job situation brings me joy, but she doesn't approve of it. I'm still trying to figure out how to find a happy medium for myself and for my mother. Despite the negativity, I still love her and I show it to her by making food whether is baking or cooking her a meal.

Recently, we had leftover salad ingredients so I decided to create a gourmet salad with garlic bread. I know my mom loves walnuts so I can candied it. She fell in love with the candied walnuts and said it was her favorite part of the meal.

Mom's salad: egg, onions, cranberries, candied walnuts, & mixed greens with sourdough garlic bread.

Candied walnuts.

Candied Walnuts

Note: I don't like my walnuts too sweet, but feel free to the increase the sugar up to 40g (3 1/2 TBSP).

50g (1/2 cup) raw walnuts
30g (2 1/2 TBSP) sugar
pinch of salt


  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Toss occasionally to prevent burning. Toast until hot to the touch and crispy.
  3. When the walnuts are done, put it in a bowl.
  4. In the same skillet, add the sugar and salt. Keep the heat on medium until the sugar starts melting and turning into a light tan. (A Tip: Swirl the pan so the sugar melts evenly and turns color uniformly) Lower the heat to low. When it turns into a darker shade, add the walnuts.
  5. Mix well and let it take on a dark amber before pouring the walnuts onto a parchment paper.
  6. Allow the walnuts to cool then break into pieces.
  7. Best if used within the same day.


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