Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sugar Cookies - The Cookie Cutter Kind

It is honestly not the holidays in my house unless there are sugar cookies. Usually, I attempt to make the perfect light, thin, and crisp sugar cookies but those are nowhere near picture worthy. Instead I used the same dough and rolled them out to drop cookies and this is what resulted. Also, my family is torn between soft and chewy and thin and crispy sugar cookies. This year, I satisfied both parties! Which side do I prefer? Thin and crispy of course.

I'm still working on finding the perfect thin and crispy recipe that is easy to roll out and use cookies cutter with. I'm guessing I have to find a recipe that uses more flour so I'll let you know when I find it. These cookies are great for decorating but sometimes I like them just they way they are, plain.

I have used a recipe from Sunsets cookbook for years but in order to achieve the thin and crispy cookie, I had to modify the recipe to make the cookies airy and lighter. I ended up replacing all of the granulated sugar with powdered sugar and in the end, I achieved light and airy cookies but it was too soft to roll out and use cookie cutters. Either way, I prefer taste and flavor over appearance any day. I guess it doesn't hurt to have a pretty appearance either because I get pretty pictures like these!


Growing up, I always made waffles from the box. I'd like to think at the time, my palette was not refined enough to know any better. I'd make waffles on the weekend all the time for my family and my mom  always complain about how she did not like the Bisquick mix but I had no problem with it. As time went by, I learned that my mom was right, aren't they always. Since then, I made a few waffles from scratch but nothing that satisfied my waffle hunger. I finally found a recipe worth blogging about. I did not realize until I made the waffles that there was no milk but I had buttermilk and almond milk. So...I used mainly buttermilk and a little of the almond milk but the buttermilk was too overpowering. Next time I will add half buttermilk and half milk. I just have to make sure I have milk at home! Other than the lingering aftertaste of tangy buttermilk, everything else was great! The texture and flavor was exactly what I was looking for in a waffle.

I did not realize how much of a difference whipping the egg whites does to the waffle. It makes a significant difference. It's a little time consuming but worth every minute. It is essential to fluffy waffles (in addition to the buttermilk). This is important step and this will make good waffles be great waffles.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Forward to 2011

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I failed at my 2010 To-Bake list but that is what New Year resolutions are for. I am intent on changing for 2011. I took the 2010 list and omitted/added things to the list. I hope I can follow the list so let's see how well I do this year!

2011 To-Bake List

1. seven layer bars
2. cinnamon rolls
3. cheesecake
4. flourless chocolate cake
5. coconut cake (or cupcakes)
6. English muffins
7. molten chocolate cake
8. revel bars
9. green tea sponge cake (see Matcha Cupcakes - practically the same thing)
10. the "ideal" brownie
11. popovers
12. lychee panna cotta
13. semifreddo
14. tiramisu
15. beer bread
16. Pot de creme
17. Tres leches cake/cupcakes

Things to remember but not necessary on my list of things to make:
- tortoni
- torte
- Amaretti cookies

[I'll probably edit the list a few times because I'm still looking for things I want to make]

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies

It's nice to be home for Christmas and the holidays because that means I get to bake as much as I want! While baking adds to the holiday pounds, at least I'm enjoying my time off. Speaking of holiday pounds, I do not think oatmeal cookies are as bad as other baking goods. I'd like to think because there is oatmeal, there is some nutritional value, right? Anyways, I like oatmeal and I like raisin but I never had the urge to make oatmeal raisin cookies. However, this recipe is a good recipe, especially if you want something different from the standard chocolate chip cookies. You can take this oatmeal cookie recipe and add in chocolate chips and voila, you have a completely different cookie.

I changed the proportion of brown sugar and white sugar and I liked how it turned out. It gave the cookie a richer butter flavor which I love considering the recipe does not have as much butter compared to other cookies.

These cookies are very versatile so try different add-ins when you want something a little different. I split my batch in half. I left half of the batch plain while I added raisins to the other half.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Panna Cotta

It's probably no surprise to you considering you look at my blog but I have been getting complaints from the family about making the same desserts all the time...cookies, cakes, cupcakes, etc. They wanted something different but of course they did not give me suggestions, I'm just suppose to read their mind. Anyways, I went on a European cruise this past summer and we had a great deal of delectable desserts on the cruise. Every night at dinner my family would tell me, "Why don't you make this?" Well, I decided to take them up on one of their offers by making panna cotta which was one of many dessert items that they enjoyed on the cruise. Panna cotta is a creamy dessert with a slightly gelatinous texture so it holds the shape of something that has gelatin but it is a lot softer and silkier than jello.

I think part of the reason why I stuck to my cookies and cakes was because I liked experimenting with different things to make it healthier or lower in fat. However, panna cotta is not one of those things that you can count in terms of calories because it is basically made of heavy whipping cream. Shh, I didn't tell the family!

Anyways, for the first time of making a dessert I have never had, I did a good job. Yes, that's right, I did not eat the panna cotta on the cruise because I was busy eating other things! Anyways, I have seen it numerous times of the Food Network or on Top Chef that I practically felt like I have had it before.

I like panna cotta because it is a super easy dessert and you can make it look fancy. Also, it is very versatile. You can use almond extract instead of vanilla or you can choose from a variety of toppings to to put onto of your dessert. Give it a try and everyone will think you are an amazing baker, I fooled my family a little!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Paper Cupcakes

Even though it's just paper, it still looks delicious!

Well, that's what I think. As I have mentioned in several posts, I live in the residential halls and work with incoming freshmen. I wasn't going to come back this year but somehow I managed to sway myself back in. Part of the reason why I wanted to come back was because I will be more involved in the residential hall that I work in. This includes making door decorations! I wanted to make door decorations that told the residents something about myself so I decided to make cupcakes. So, I spent five hours on a Saturday night (yes, I have no life) cutting and gluing cupcakes together. It was addicting and I couldn't stop because once I made one type of cupcake, another cupcake flavor popped into my head. No recipe in this blog (unless you want to know the recipe on how to make these adorable cupcakes), it's just something I want to share. As you can tell from previous posts, I love cupcakes!

Can you guess the different flavors?

Starting from top left to bottom right:
1. Chocolate cupcake & strawberry frosting with a chocolate covered strawberry on top
2. Lemon cupcake & lemon scented frosting with a lemon drop on top
3. Cookies and cream cupcake & chocolate frosting with a chocolate cream cookie on top
4. Carrot cupcake & cream cheese frosting with a marzipan carrot on top
5. Yellow cupcake & chocolate frosting with sprinkles on top
6. Red velvet cupcake & cream cheese frosting with red sprinkles on top
7. White cupcake & strawberry frosting with a strawberry on top
8. Chocolate cupcake & vanilla frosting with sprinkles on top

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going Bananas for Banana! (Banana Bread)

I love banana bread for many reasons! If you know me, you're probably thinking I love banana bread because I love bananas! While that is true, it's only partly true. Side note: I have been obsessed with bananas for the past two year and haven't gone more than two days without eating a banana. I eat one for breakfast everyday and if I don't eat it for breakfast, I find some other time in the day to get my daily banana intake. It's a horrible obsession but at least it's a healthy one! Continuing on my banana rant, I only eat bananas at a particular ripeness. The idea banana is a vibrant yellow that is slightly green towards the end (see Oatmeal Banana Streusel Muffins). I don't pick bananas that are all bruised on the bottom. When I go to the grocery store, I only buy enough bananas so I can eat them at their ideal state which meant I bought bananas every three days. I am that picky!

Last summer, I was talking to my friend and she was telling me how she puts bananas in her smoothies and how it is tastier when they are riper. I started trying it out in my own smoothies I made for breakfast and she was right! I slowly became okay with eating riper bananas (deep yellow with speckles) in my peanut butter banana sandwiches, smoothies, and of course...banana bread! I am proud to say that I can buy a week's worth of bananas (one a day) and be okay with eater riper bananas by the end of the week!

Anyways, back to the focus on this blog entry: banana bread! The key to tasty banana is using really ripe bananas. I'm talking mushy and practically brown. I know, it's strange to hear me say this but it is true! This is my favorite banana bread recipe because it is full of banana flavor and it's not too sweet nor too heavy. Also, you can create your own variation of banana bread from this recipe. I have added chocolate chips to make chocolate chip banana bread and I have made whole wheat banana bread where I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. Don't worry, the bread did not turn out dry, it was still moist and I felt better about myself after ingesting it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

2010 To-Bake List (Revisited)

I was just thinking about how 2010 is almost half over. I remember when 2010 seemed so far away. I have always envisioned what 2010 would be like and not that it is hear, I feel like it is almost over. It will always be remembered the year I graduated college and officially became an adult. Granted, I graduated college in 2009 instead of 2010 but I will always view it as the last year of my undergraduate career! It has been a great year but I was sifting through my old blog entries and I came across my 2010 To-Bake List. Take a look:

1. sponge cake
2. crusty bread
3. Danish pastry
4. homemade oreo cookies
5. seven layer bars
6. Dutch crunch bread
7. cinnamon rolls
8. millionaire's shortbread
9. pita bread
10. chocolate brownie pudding cakes
11. English muffins
12. cinnamon raisin swirl bread
13. black and white cookies
14. New York cheesecake
15. molten chocolate cake
16. flourless chocolate cake
17. coconut cake

Guess how many of these items I have made? You guessed correctly if you said ZERO! As an excuse, if I can have one, I have been living a residential hall for this entire year and while I do go home on the occasional weekend, I usually bake something quick and yummy like cookies or cupcakes. It's not that I have not been baking, I just having been baking the things on my list. The funny part about looking at this list is that I want to add more things to it. I had many delicious desserts on the European cruise I went on a few weeks ago but my list will stand for now.

Now that I have done my mid-year review, I give myself an F. Let's see if I can redeem myself in the second half!

WAIT! Looking over the list again, I have made one thing: sponge cake. I do not have any pictures to show you as proof so I guess that does not count, does it? Ehh, I will give myself .5/17. That is still embarrassing though...

To make everyone feel better, including myself, here are pictures of things I have made. Everybody likes pictures, right?

My 22nd birthday cake. Yes, I made my own birthday cake. Don't judge me!

Made my own spinach dip. It was delicious, tasted similar to TGIF's!

Smoked salmon with cream cheese on a cracker with a sprinkle of parsely on top. I am well aware of the fact that this takes two seconds to make but don't you think it's a pretty picture?

My sister's 23rd birthday cake. I do not remember how long it took me to make this cake but I made it in record time, no joke. Red velvet cake with strawberry ice cream. It's always a winner.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's All About the Cute Cupcake!

When I first started baking, I really enjoyed making cookies. Actually, I was obsessed with making cookies that I did not make anything but cookies. I preferred perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe than trying something new like pastry, cake, or bread. Well, after my little obsession, I was hungry to try something new. That is when I moved into the cake and bread realm and became a more well-rounded baker.

Anyways, my latest obsession has been cupcakes and frankly, I think it is an obsession that will stay. Not to the extent where I only make cupcakes but I think it is something I will never ever get tired of making. It started about a year ago when I decided to make cupcakes for my co-workers as a recognition event. Every month, I would make a dessert and bring it to my meeting of 48 people. I always made something in the lounge but I had to be strategic with what I made because I was in a residential hall with limited equipment and supplies without breaking my piggy bank. I had to make shortbread, brownies, cupcakes - things that were individualized, easy to make, and required little ingredients/equipment. Now, these bake goods can get plain and boring so I began thinking of ways I can jazz up these desserts, particularly the cupcake. That is when I began exploring at different ideas online and came across books such as Hello Cupcake and What's New Cupcake.

That is what I have been doing, jazzing up the cupcake. This is what I have made so far and there will be many more cute cupcakes to come!

Fortune cookie cupcakes

Fried rice cupcakes

Take Out Cupcakes - Would you like some takeout?

Hamburger cupcakes - There's nothing like a good burger! Too bad it came out a little blurry.

Bears on the Beach - Teddy bears having a good time at the beach!

Apple cupcakes - You're the apple of my eye!

Dirt 'n Worms cupcakes - It is just as dirty and gritty as it is delicious!

 Sushi cupcakes - Where's the soy sauce?

Sashimi cupcake - poor fishy

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Good Ole Cupcake!

I am going to be completely honest, I love boxed cake. I think it is delicious and very convenient but as much as I like it, there is a part of me that gets the satisfaction of making it from scratch. Usually when I make cupcakes, I want them to look cute which is why I often use boxed cake mix. I was contemplating what to make last night when my brother told me he wanted simple yellow cupcakes. I thought "how boring" but sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying. So, I whipped out my Better Homes and Garden cookbook and found the recipe for yellow cake. Instead of making the cake, I put the cake batter in muffin tins and voila, cupcakes!

I decorated the cupcakes very simply, chocolate fudge frosting and my favorite kind of sprinkles! I even scooped out some batter, mixed in cocoa powder and make marble cupcakes too for some variation. They were indeed satisfying, just how simple things can be!

Oatmeal Banana Streusel Muffins

I know, the title is a mouthful! You're probably thinking, "does this actually work?" Yes, it does! I like to think of this as a perfect grab and go breakfast. Usually breakfast muffins are full of bran and bland but this muffin is tasty and satisfying. The bananas keeps the muffins moist and the oatmeal gives it nice texture. To make this healthier than it already is, you can switch the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I made a streusel to put on top of the muffins but of course you can omit the streusel if you want a truly healthy muffin. However, the streusel adds more texture and sweetness to the muffin and is still a fairly healthy muffin with the streusel on top. If you want to mix it up, you can make half with the streusel and half without. I did this because I like the healthier version with no streusel but the rest of my family thinks like the extra calories.

Store bought muffins tend to be overly sweet, moist, and delicious that we often neglect the fact that they are high in fat and calories. Muffins have gained the reputation of being cakes in a muffin tin but these muffins have the taste of cake but just not the fat or the calories.

Brown Sugar Shortbread

Quick! What do you think of when you hear shortbread? Yummy, tasty, light, high in fat. Shortbread is actually a quite simple cookie to make yet the flavor can be as complex as any other cookie. These are delectable shortbread cookies. I have personally never been a fan of the shortbread. My earliest memories of shortbread came from eating te packaged Walker shortbread. While it was tasty because of the buttery flavor, it was not fulfilling as a packaged chocolate chip cookie. If I had good shortbread, I always felt guilty eating such a rich and fattening cookie. As I was flipping through my Mrs. Field Cookbook, I felt so inclined to make shortbread. Perhaps the pictures made them simply irresistible! I was particularly intrigued by this recipe that uses brown sugar instead of white sugar and was dipped in chocolate and pecans. I allowed myself to make these cookies because I was making them for a party and knew that it would be a crowd pleaser. And it gave me an excuse to eat one but only one of course!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Another Version)

Chocolate chip cookies are probably one of the greatest inventions ever. I don't know what can be better than a delectable cookie with the pop of sweetness from the chocolate chips. What is great about the chocolate chip cookie is that it is very versatile. You can have different add accessories to your chocolate chip cookies like nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal, etc.

For this chocolate chip cookie, I decided to take the healthy route. When you throw in whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and small amount of butter, you just feel better when you eat the cookie. Okay, the difference may not be that significant but there is a difference.

I do volunteer work with underprivileged children and I helped compile a book of healthy recipes the children can make at home with their families. I didn't have many on top of my head so I did some research online and came across EatingWell and found a gold mine of tasty and healthy recipes. It was here that I found this recipe which are titled Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies. I don't know Bev but she made some great cookies. Take a look at the nutritional information:

Per cookie: 99 calories; 5 g fat ( 2 g sat , 2 g mono ); 11 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 64 mg sodium; 55 mg potassium

From a calories perspectives, you cannot get much lower than 99 calories for a cookie. The fat is relatively high for the calorie of the cookie but you can experiment with the amount of butter and substituting applesauce or buttermilk to reduce the fat.  Even with 5 grams of fat, it is not as bad as other cookies...just sayin'!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coffee Cake Muffins

I love muffins. I think they are delicious and convenient whether it is for a breakfast to go, an afternoon snack, or an after dinner dessert. Let's face the facts, muffins you get at the store or from a local bakery aren't the most healthiest things in the world. Just to give you an idea of how unhealthy muffins could be, let's take a look at some non-store bought muffins that are worth eating.

Costco's chocolate chocolate chip muffins
690 calories
58% total fat
55% total saturated fat

Dunkin Donuts' chocolate chip muffin
630 calories
35% total fat
30% saturated fat

Sprouts' chocolate chip muffin
430 calories
40% total fat (app)
35% saturated fat (app)

35-55% of you daily fat intake is dedicated to eating one muffin! If half of fat intake came from one thing I ate, I would either not eat for the rest of the day or not eat it all. It seems extreme but that is way too much fat for a single item to have. I think making muffins at home is the way to go. First, you can control how big or small you want your muffin to be. A Costco muffin is huge and many people can't finish one but if it is there, people will eat. If you make miniature sized muffins at home, you will think twice before you decide to pop one or two more in your mouth. Also, you can substitute healthier ingredients. For example, you can use yogurt, applesauce, and oil as healthier alternatives to butter. You can also use whole wheat flour, add bran or flax to your muffins as well. This way you can enjoy a muffin without feeling guilty!

The recipe I am sharing with you today, I will admit, is not a healthy muffin recipe. However, I made mini muffins to make up for the heaviness of the muffin. Even if you make the standard sized muffin, it is still healthier for you than if you were to buy store bought. I am sharing a recipe for coffee cake muffins that I found on Brown Eyed Baker's blog. It is great for the on to go breakfast! I have tried many muffin recipes and haven't liked any of them which has led me to buying store bought muffins but this recipe is great that it actually tastes like a muffin. The outside of the muffin has a nice crunch and the inside is moist and delicious just like a muffin should be. I would make muffins more often if they all turned out this great!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I have recently became a fan of avocado. I have never liked it ever since I first tried it back in high school when I was on my first cruise. I remember my dad saying that it was really healthy for me and I should try it. So I did and I almost spit it back up because it tasted like eating butter. Even though it was healthy, I couldn't force myself to eat being the health freak that I am. That was until I went camping a few month ago and everyone was eating gucamole. I snacked on the plain chips while I watched everyone swarm over the gucamole. I wasn't sure it was because everyone liked gucamole a lot or because we were camping and we only had so much to eat. Either way, once everyone got their fair share, I thought I would give it another try. Yes, I wanted to conform and be like everyone else! Luckily I did because I thought it was delicious.

One thing that appealed to me when I came across this recipe was the word chunky. I like my gucamole chunky where I can distinguish the textures of the ingredients rather than having a smooth paste. When you try this recipe, smash the gucamole to the your desired consistency. This goes great with tortilla chips, low sodium of course, but I think guacamole can really boost the flavor of a lot of dishes. I don't like salad dressing and I know this may sound weird but I added some guacamole to my salad the other day and it was great! It added more flavor to my salad and it is more healthier than salad dressing!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Almond Crescents

Almond crescents look similar to let's say a Mexican wedding cookies or the Hershey Kiss Snowballs that I made a post about a few weeks back but there is a distinct difference between these cookies. These cookies are not as rich in the butter flavor but there is still a butter flavor present. That with the combination of the toasted almonds makes these cookies melt in your mouth but still has substantial texture to it. Toasting the almonds really bring out the their flavor so don't skip out on that step. These are a favorite at my house. My mom would make them when I was little and I seriously ate five at one time, well when no one was looking of course. I distinctly remember closing my eyes every time I took a bite to savor the flavor as long as I could. Now that I am older, I am much better at controlling my portions and can limit myself to one but it's very hard!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pecan Tassies

I must admit that I am not a huge pie fan. I'll eat two kinds of pie, fresh strawberry pie and pecan pie. I think part of it is contributed to the fact that I don't like jelly or cream that tends to be what the fillings are. Now if I had to chose a pie to eat, it would be pecan pie. It's the combination of the pecans and the chewy brown sugar filling that makes it so enjoyable to eat.

This recipe isn't for pecan pie but for pecan tassies. They are mini pecan pise and they are absolutely divine. In my household, we like more pecans in our filling than the sugar mixture and this recipe does exactly that. You get that crunch from the pecans and the brown sugar filling isn't too overwhelming that you forget the pecans are there. Also, pecan pie like any pie, is very high in calories and fat, so eating a pecan tassie will give you the satisfaction of a pecan pie without adding all those extra calories! Also, these are great for parties because your guests can just pick one up and pop it in their mouth.

When we talk about pies, there are two main components. One is the filling and the second is a crust. The crust can truly make a pie from ordinary to extraordinary. The crust for the pecan tassies is not your typical pie crust because there is cream cheese which adds a nice dimension to the pecan tassies. The crust is buttery and flaky and complements the filling perfectly. Give these a try and you won't regret it!

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