Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cinnamon Buns (Rolls) with Cream Cheese Icing (No Shortcuts Here!)

I love cinnamon rolls and the smell of Cinnabon reminds me of my childhood when my family and I would frequent the mall. Every once in awhile, my parents would let my siblings and I indulge on cinnamon bun for all of us to share. As much as I always wanted to have my own cinnamon roll, I always had just the right amount to be satisfied until the next indulgence! It was a good idea that my parents never bought me my own cinnamon bun because when I was 12, I went to this food fair in California and I got to try all of these different foods. One station made their own cinnamon rolls. I watched in awe behind the glass on the magic of cinnamon rolls. As I saw the bakers slobber sticks and sticks of butter on the bread dough, I began to feel this heavy pitted feeling in my stomach. I told my mom I never wanted to eat a cinnamon roll again because it looked disgusting. She laughed but I was as serious as a 12 year old could be!

That experience is still vivid in my memory but there is something about the cinnamon-ness in a cinnamon roll that just makes it a divine treat. I will indulge every once in awhile and if I do, I will eat a bite...or two. The thing is if you make it on your own cinnamon buns, you can regulate the fat in the recipe, you'll feel better about yourself by regulating how much you make and eat. I'm not saying this recipe is not fattening but I feel better about eating something that I made. The smell of the cinnamon buns baking in the oven is one of the greatest scents because it reminds me so much of my childhood. Now, I can recreate those memories right in my own kitchen.

If I learned one thing from my cinnamon buns encounter it is the importance of the icing. While cinnamon buns are delectable on their own, the icing really make a cinnamon bun from good to stupendous! I used a cream cheese icing for this recipe because I love cream cheese but it also provides a depth of flavor beyond a simple sweetness that a standard icing provides. I kept the integrity of the cream cheese by not adding hat much sugar so you can still taste the cream cheese but doesn't overpower the cinnamon goodness.

I am proud of this cinnamon bun baking experience for many reasons. First, this is my first time making homemade cinnamon buns (I have only made shortcut Cinnamon Bun Bread before). Second, I found making these cinnamon buns pretty easy. I usually have some sort of anxiety when it comes to making bread. I remember when I first started baking bread, I was a hot mess. I didn't understand how particular I had to be when it came to the directions and that yeast is a very sensitive matter. If the liquid is too cold, the yeast takes a long time to activate. If the liquid is too hot, the yeast can die. I have experienced both but I guess it is what has gotten me to this feeling of ease. I am so happy with the result of my cinnamon buns and I'm even happier to share my experience with you!

 Cinnamon buns before they went into the oven. If you think this looks good, just wait!

 Lookin' good, ain't it? They are missing something though...

Finished product with cream cheese icing. Cinnamon buns aren't cinnamon buns without the icing.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lemon-y Pound Cake

I think lemon + sugar makes such a dangerously delicious combination which is why this lemon pound cake is perfect for all of you lemon lovers. I'll admit it, I am a lemon lovers but it is contingent upon using fresh lemon. If at all possible, always use fresh lemon. Using real lemons makes a world of difference when it comes to recipes that puts lemon in the lime light. I have never made a pound cake before today. Don't get me wrong, I love pound cake. I can eat Sara Lee's all butter pound cake like it's no one's business but I know my pound cake will never compare to their magical recipe. I'm alright with that but that doesn't mean I can't make a good pound cake, especially if it uses lemon! I was proud of my first pound cake.  Honestly, nothing can beat the butter taste of pound cake.

When the pound cake comes out of the oven, was not as sweet as I thought it would be. The recipe is great for those who are cutting sugar out of their diet, those who like to eat on the healthier side, or those just don't like really sweet things. The key to making the cake sweet is a lemon infused concoction by adding the sugar and lemon juice mixture and brushing it on the cake. It brings more sweetness and lemon-ness to the cake as well as making the cake moister.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies (Replicates): Too Many Chocolate Chip Cookies? Never!

Chocolate chip cookies are one of the most greatest inventions ever. Don't you agree? One of the reasons why it is so awesome is because it is versatile and comes in many shapes and sizes. I want to share a recipe for with you that makes these chocolate chip cookies a little different from the other ones. The main difference: cinnamon. You will see what I mean while the cookies are still in the oven. I cannot describe how simply decadent that smell is because the cinnamon aroma infuses through the entire house. It makes my mouth water and it's unfortunate because the cookies are not even done baking yet. These cookies are best straight out of the oven because they are soft, squishy, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The cinnamon gives these cookies a unique character and it reminds me of cookies that I buy at a bakery. Now I can bake those bakery cookies at home!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Japanese Cheesecake

I have been dying to make this recipe because it looked so moist, fluffy, and cheescake-like when I came across it on Chrstine's Recipe blog. I didn't have time to make it when I first found the recipe but I knew the wait would be worthwhile. So, what is a Japanese cheesecake and how does it differ from the standard cheesecake? Well, Japanese cheesecake is not as sweet, rich, and dense.  Also, the texture is light and airy. I would compare it to a cross between a souffle and a sponge cake. If I can give a few words of caution, don't be deceived by the "cheesecake" name because if you have a craving for cheesecake, this is not your cake. The recipe calls for cream cheese but the cream cheese flavor doesn't come through as strong as the typical cheesecake. However, if you are looking for a cake (especially an eggy, sponge-like cake), this recipe is for you! The texture is a unique one because it's light and spongy, while being really moist. This makes the cake practically melt in your mouth like cotton candy (just not as quickly).

Overall, the directions were easy to follow and I recommend this recipe to anyone who wants to try something different. Also, this recipe requires to fold in egg whites and I was quite proud of myself in successfully whipping egg whites and folding it into the batter. A few years ago, I did not touch recipes that required whipping eggs but I'm practically fearless now. Practicing this technique is the only way to get good at this so it is definitely not an understatement! So, if you are one of those fearful egg whippers, give this recipe a try if you are interested in trying Japanese cheesecake!

I baked this with the intention of tasting like a cheesecake but with more of a cake texture. Needless to say, I was not expecting the cake that actually came out of the oven; however, my family liked the cake so I guess this recipe was a win! As for myself? I got my cheesecake fix at lunch today!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake Bars

What did I do this St. Patty's Day? I spent it in Prescott, AZ. For those of you who are not from Arizona, Prescott is a small town approximately two hours away from Phoenix. It is funny how people construe desert with Arizona and while that is true, many neglect the fact that two hours north of Phoenix is nice and "normal" weather. Yes, there are trees, real grass, and anything but 100 degree weather. Granted, there is not much to do in this town but it is cute and has its own little unique wonders. I spent the day with my friend exploring the local businesses and seeing what it had to offer. We went to a delicious brewery for lunch and a homemade ice cream shop with over 20 flavors. Aside from the food, everyone was very welcoming and friendly. Look at what you see all around the town (see image to right). Talk about feeling welcomed!

Anyways, what does Prescott have to do with chocolate fudge cheesecake bars? Well, we stumbled upon a bookstore in downtown Prescott (on Gurley Street or somewhere very close). It was this adorable and little local bookstore where one can trade, sell, or buy books. Since it was so small, they try their best to organize the books but books were coming out the shelves, literally. I don't know how the store can squeeze anymore books into that confined space but I knew there had to be treasures in this chest! Upon finding the cookbooks, I intently searched for some sort of cake book but instead found a book titled 201 Chocolate Treats. Of course I couldn't resist picking it up! As I flipped through the pages, I wondered if there were some unique chocolate creations that I don't typically see in the cookbook. I thought there were enough recipes that intrigued my curiosity to sit down and really check out the recipes. So, I ended up supporting one of the local businesses (my new fad) and purchased the book. Let's see how my $4 investment faired...from the aroma of my kitchen as I bake, it's smellin' like a good investment!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Y-U-M-Blurb: Over Easy's Malted Waffle

I am a Food Network fanatic. My tv is normally on one of three channel and the Food Network is definitely one of them. Not only is it fun to watch others cook and learn about food, it is equally fun to watch the network integrate and market different individuals and how some are more popular than others. One individual that immediately caught my attention was Guy Fieri from the Next Food Network Star. I loved him every since the first episode. I also love his shows, in particular, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. You might watch an episode or two and wonder why would anyone watch a show of Guy eating but the show is so much more than that. It is great to see how local businesses are doing what they do best: cook authentic, unique, quality dishes. Also, it i is interesting to see the various creations people come up with in their restaurants. I swear I am becoming a big proponent of supporting local businesses more and more everyday.

Anyways, on triple D, Guy travels all around the country to hit up the most popular eating joints to try their specialties. In AZ, Guy has visited ten places. While I've been to a few, Sunday was another triple D adventure. Check out Guy's visit first!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Journey's Never Really Over: Sushi Cupcakes (With Recipes)

It was brought to my attention that I never put up the recipes and directions for Sushi Cupcakes (thanks Gizelle) so decided to post it for you. Writing this blog brought back the memories I had making these cupcakes. It was time consuming but baking and  making cute cupcakes is seriously my therapy! I remember spending hours and hours to make 50 sushi cupcakes and while I frustrated at times, it was completely satisfying in the end. I like to think of it as art for the soulful baker! Now that I have made these cupcakes once, I know how to make it easier the second time around and for you. Also, I added new pictures for your viewing pleasure. Without further adieu, here it is!

Mochi Cake

I'm so excited to share this recipe with you! What is mochi cake you ask? It is a cake because it has all the typically ingredients you find in a cake but the only difference is the flour. Mochi is made with glutinous rice flour which gives its products a chewy texture. For all the chewy texture food fans like myself, you'll love this recipe because glutinous rice flour is used instead of all purpose flour. The cake comes out chewy and has an eggy flavor comparable to a sponge cake. One thing I love about this recipe is the brown crust that forms on the bottom and top of the cake. It is crumbly goodness in the mouth that really gives the cake a rich flavor. This cake is versatile in terms of flavor: chocolate, green tea, blueberry, strawberry, etc. - the list can goes on. In this version, coconut milk gives the cake good flavor and I like it even more because I used light coconut milk. You know what that means, less guilt!

I first discovered mochi cake at a Thanksgiving gathering two years ago. I am notorious for being a mochi freak so my cousin made a cake at this Thanksgiving gathering and she asked me if it tasted like anything I had before. I remember saying, "It kinda taste like mochi...?" She started laughing and told me that it was mochi...mochi cake that is. Initially, I was confused about the idea but then it made so much sense. I thought it was such a brilliant idea but have been forgetting to make it!

Since I have braces now, eating mochi would be a living nightmare to get out of my braces so I have been thinking of ways to get my mochi fix. Then, the brilliant idea struck...mochi cake! Voila, that is what inspired to finally look up a recipe and make it. There are many variations out there but I opted for the standard mochi cake for my first try. I can get fancy after that!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Y-U-M-Blurb: Wildflower Bread Company Low-Fat Chocolate Muffin

It's time for Y-U-M-M-Y to grow a little older and wiser. It had to happen at some point, right? I am expanding my blog to encompass foodie adventures I encounter. While this was one of the original intention of my blog, I never remembered to take pictures of what I ate because I was too busy eating! I recently developed the urge to share my experiences and thoughts about my foodie explorations. So, here is my first 'Y-U-M-Blurb' entry. Enjoy!

Wildflower Bread Company (WBC) is an Arizona only chain that serves a unique selection of salads, sandwiches, pastas, breads, and pastries. Think of it as a Panera, Corner Bakery, or Paradise Bakery but having its own little twist. Everything is made daily with fresh, healthy, ingredients. On top of that, everything is natural with no preservatives or additives. Can this get any better? Of course! Wildflower Bread Company makes sure to give back to the community in whatever way they can. A few years ago, I asked for a donation prize for a banquet I was planning in which they donated two $25 gift cards without hesitation. I was a fan from that day on even though I had not eaten there until today.

Although WBC specializes in bread, I could not resist the eye candy of desserts and pastries. My face was pressed up against the glass, searching for the right selection for my first purchase. As my breathe fogged up the glass and salivation began, I made my decision...low-fat chocolate muffin. I know, I could not resist when I saw the 'low-fat' sign but can you blame me? I was intrigued about how a chocolate muffin can taste like a chocolate muffin and be low-fat at the same time? There was only way to find out!

As much as I wanted to dive straight into the muffin, I was even more excited to take pictures. What's a better place than on the dashboard of my car? As a ripped a piece of the muffin for a sample, I could instantly tell how moist the muffin was going to be. It had the texture of a scrumptious muffin but how did the taste fare?

It was interesting because I did not get an overwhelming taste of sweet chocolate. The taste was more of a natural sweetness with a hint of chocolate. I had not have expectations beforehand so I did not know what to think of the muffin. Overall, I liked it. I could tell it was low-fat by the taste and it would be a perfect treat to satisfy one's sweet tooth without loading on the fat. 

I had one criticism: I wish there was more chocolate flavor. While it was not overwhelming sweet, the sweetness came from fruits. Applesauce is a common ingredient to reduce the fat in baked good but the sweetness was much richer than an apple. Perhaps applesauce was added in conjunction to another fruit like prunes because that is what it tasted like to me, although I cannot quite place my finger on what fruit was used to make the muffins.  

For someone who is a semi-health freak, I liked it. I thought the texture was great. The muffin was very moist and it had just enough sweetness for me with a hint of chocolate that made me think I was eating a chocolate muffin. After researching the nutritional information online, this is what I learned:

Calories: 495
Calories from fat: 25
Total fat: 3g
Saturated fat: 1g

Does this seem like a low-fat muffin to you? It does to me! You might be thinking 500 calories for a muffin is a lot but the muffin is really big and dense. Half a muffin would satisfy anyone for a snack or even a light breakfast. For someone who eat smaller portions (like myself), this muffin could satisfy 3-4 hunger urges.

Overall, for a semi-health freaks/people that want to eat healthy, this muffin is perfect. For those who have huge sweet tooth and want the full taste of a chocolate muffin, this is mostly likely not for you but worth a try in my opinion!

*Overall grade: Y-U-M-M

*Ranking for Y-U-M-Blurbs are based on the Y-U-M-M-Y scale (just Y being the lowest, Y-U-M-M-Y being the highest).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

French Toast

I love food! Despite this understatement, there is one food staple that I absolutely cannot stand...eggs! I know, it may seem impossible considering baking involves using lots of eggs but I greatly detest the test, smell, and texture of eggs. Eggs are the one food item that shivers down my spine when I was little and the feeling just persisted as I grew older. Off that tangent, I made french toast today for the first time (*round of applause*)! I never made french toast because I do not like eggs and it never really appealed to me but I had an urge to make it.

Now, I'm no french toast expert but I have learned/observed a few things from the Food Network, my mom, and recipe researching. I'll share some of those things with you!

Tips for good french toast:
1. Using day old bread is important because it soaks up the egg mixture.
2. French toast shouldn't be soppy. This is easy to do if you opt using regular white sliced bread.
3. Building a custard is the key to good french toast.
4. French toast should taste eggy with a hint of sweetness, not the other way around.
5. French toast is to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The recipe I used for this post was an experiment but I think it turned out well. In my opinion, this is a healthier version of typical french toast because there is nothing overpowering in the recipe but it achieves all the tastes in french toast. Having said that, let's make some french toast!

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