Saturday, December 31, 2011

Banana buttermilk cupcakes

Banana Buttermilk Cupcakes
This past week, our older sister and brother (plus his family) have been visiting from Tampa, FL. We have had amazing food. In addition to my sister's famous gumbo, we've enjoyed German food from Leavenworth, WA, some vendor foods from Pike's Place Market in Seattle, and various foods from the International District in Seattle. I don't think I've been hungry since Christmas Day, but I haven't stopped eating since then. Plus, I've barely cooked!

Tomorrow for New Year's Eve, I plan on making a Nutella Brownie Pie, but my siblings also requested a cake for tonight's dessert. "You're always posting photos of cakes on Facebook, but you haven't made us any dessert yet!" Wah, wah, wahhhh. Wanting to try something a little different, I thought of a cake that my friend Celia wrote about over at her blog, The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia. Coincidentally, I had some ripe bananas sitting on the counter. Kismet.

Fresh out of the oven. Simmer down now! (SNL reference. Anyone?)
Though it is a tiny bit denser than a regular cake, these cupcakes are not like the texture of banana bread. They were super moist and sooooo tasty. I topped them with cream cheese frosting and walnuts, which elevated their level from delicious to "punch a baby in the face" scrumptious. I ate two cupcakes. TWO. I should be ashamed, but I'm just too darned happy with these little cakes! 

Tomorrow's dinner includes: roast turkey with sausage stuffing and gravy, prime rib with mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, steamed lobster, roasted oysters, strawberry rhubarb pie, and Nutella brownie pie. Then death from overeating. Next week, I will only eat chao/lugaw/rice porridge.

Happy New Year! Many blessings to you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Hello there! My first semester of seminary is over! After finals yesterday, I cried a little (a lot), and had a long shower (tall drink), and am feeling much better today!

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake. Photo: Elizabeth P.

Last week, two of my friends threw a Christmas/White Elephant party. Along with a white elephant gift, we were asked to either bring a drink/cocktail or food. I brought sorbet & champagne cocktails and a peppermint ice cream cake.

First, I'd just like to say that Martha Stewart's SORBET & CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS ARE MY NEW FAVORITE DRINK. Also, I am sorry to say that I don't have a photo of one from the party to post here. We happily drank them up, and didn't think to photograph it. It's super easy to make, though. Literally, you spoon some sorbet into a glass (we used raspberry sorbet), and then fill the glass with champagne. The next morning, I received a text from my friend, "Girl! Those champagne cocktails did me in!!!" I think that's the best review it could possibly get.

The makings of a peppermint ice cream cake
The peppermint ice cream cake was also incredibly easy to make, and I think everyone enjoyed it. At least, I really enjoyed making and eating it. It had soft chocolate cake, layered with minty ice cream, whipped topping, and crunchy candy cake sprinkles. It's a great seasonal dessert, and can be adjusted with different ice cream flavors, depending on your preference or the season.

Look at all that food in the background! Yet, only the pigs in a blanket are gone. Photo: Elizabeth P.

Chau's Super Easy Peppermint Ice Cream Cake 
(Makes one 9x13 cake)

1 box chocolate/devil's food cake mix, divided
eggs, oil, and water called for in the cake recipe (I substitute coffee for water to enhance choco flavor)
1 container of peppermint ice cream (1 container usually has 1.5 qts)
1 - 8 oz of your favorite whipped topping (I was lazy, I used Cool Whip)
3 candy canes or a bunch of peppermint candies, crushed to make "sprinkles"
1 - 9x13 pan
nonstick spray

  1. Preheat oven according to cake mix directions. I was using a shiny aluminum pan, so I reduced oven heat by 25 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Do your best to divide the dry cake mix in half. (About 1 3/4 c. from 18 oz box of mix).
  3. For the eggs, oil, and water/coffee, here's how I broke it down: 2 eggs (my cake mix recipe called for 3 eggs for full cake); half the amount of oil (half of 1/3 c. for me); a little less than half of the amount of liquid called (a full cake mix called for 1 1/4 c, so I used 1/2 c. for the half cake. Remember, you have 2 eggs, so it's okay to use less than half the liquid).
  4.  Mix it all together! 
  5. Pour it in the pan sprayed with nonstick spray! 
  6. Bake it for about 10-15 min, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean!
  7. Once fully baked, allow cake to cool for 1-2 hours, until fully cooled. 
  8. After cake has cooled, let ice cream sit on counter to soften (about 20 min). You'll know it's soft when you can use a spoon or spatula to mix the ice cream. NOTE: If you can't find peppermint ice cream, you could mix crushed candy canes into softened vanilla ice cream.
  9. Remember, cake should be cooled. Spoon ice cream onto the cake, and spread it out evenly over the cake. 
  10. Top with whipped topping and crushed candy canes/peppermint candies. Freeze for about 1-2 hours.
  11. Eat that jank.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nutella Brownie Pie, revisited

Since my initial post about Nutella Brownie pie, I've made it again twice. Once for a church pie auction (it sold for $85!), and recently for a friend's birthday party.

Ding dang delicious.

The previous recipe I had was fine. However, I've made some changes that I think might improve your pie making experience.

Nutella Brownie Pie (revised)
1 pie crust, 9 inches (Whatever pie crust you use is fine. I recently used a store bought graham cracker crust that saved time, and tasted great with the filling)
2 batches of Nutella brownie recipe by Abby Dodge (3 batches took a longer cooking time, and the edges of the pie tended to overcook. Still delicious, but 2 batch maximum is best.)
Top with whipped cream, whipped topping, or Dream Whip. Lots of it.
  1. If making your own, prepare the crust ahead of time.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Make the batter by whisking eggs and Nutella in a bowl until smooth.
  4. Add flour, and whisk until blended.
  5. Pour batter into your pie crust. Bake for 20-30 min. You don't want to thoroughly cook this pie, so that it gets soft, gooey, and fudgy in the middle. Place on cooling rack.
  6. After pie has cooled for about 2 hours, top with whipped cream. (Just make sure the pie is not warm so that the cream doesn't melt!)
  7. You can also melt a tbsp of Nutella with 1/4 of chocolate chips in a Ziploc sandwich bag, snip a small corner of the bag, and then drizzle melted chocolate on top of the whipped cream. 
  8. Note: To make this even more chocolate-y, add chocolate chips to the batter.
 The holidays are here, so that provides a good excuse for you to make this pie...Not that you really need an excuse to try this!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Update on Thanksgiving Recipes

A few days ago, I posted about these pumpkin cakes for Thanksgiving. Since we're having a potluck at church on Sunday, I decided to try them both. Here are the results: I definitely recommend the pumpkin gooey cake. It's got great flavor and texture. If you like a super moist, very dense pumpkin bread, then you'll also enjoy the pumpkin spice cake. 

Makeover Pumpkin Gooey Cake      

I hate pumpkin pie, and don't usually like pumpkin flavored things, but this pumpkin gooey cake is delicious. It's baked just until the middle sets a bit, or the edges brown, and then you're done. It has a buttery, almost custard-like pumpkin layer, but it's not dense. It's light and fluffy, even though it's soft. The cream cheese is a nice counterpoint to the pumpkin flavor. Also, make sure to use cinnamon AND nutmeg

Things I did differently from the recipe: 
  • store was out of reduced fat cream cheese, so I used regular
  • regular butter instead of 1/2 fat butter
  • 2 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar seems plenty (remember that the 2nd cake layer is also sweet)
  • I didn't have yellow cake mix, so I used carrot cake mix. The spices in it went well with the pumpkin layer!
  • 3 whole eggs instead of 2 whole + 2 egg whites
  • If you're using an aluminum pan, reduce oven temp to 325 degrees F
Pumpkin Spice Cake
I thought that I would enjoy this pumpkin spice cake more than the pumpkin gooey cake, but compared to the other cake, it's a bit underwhelming. The flavor is good...there's a nice balance of cocoa, cinnamon, and nutmeg. However, when I cut into the cake, it was super dense. Chocolate chips provide texture variation compared to the density of the cake, though I think the addition of walnuts would have helped more.

Things I did differently from the recipe:
  • instead of 1 1/2 cups sugar, add 1 c. white sugar + 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 3 whole eggs instead of 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • omitted allspice and cloves (don't have it!), added more cinnamon and sugar
  • omit 1/2 cup raisins
  • added 1/2 cup chocolate chips instead of 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (be sure to coat chips in flour so they don't sink in the batter)
  • substituted 1/2 buttermilk with 1/2 sour milk
  • substituted 1/3 cup water with 1/3 cup sour milk
 Reading the reviews of the recipe, it seems that I'm not the only one whose cake was dense. So maybe it's supposed to be that way? It could be under-baked, but I'm afraid of how brown the outside might look had I baked it longer. Anyway, it has wonderful flavor, but I wouldn't call it a cake. It might make more sense to call it a dense pumpkin bread...But what's worse? Super dense or super dry cake?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Thanksgiving Recipe

Hello everyone! You may remember from my series of posts last year that Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday. I basically make the same thing every year, but I do have a few new recipes that I'll be trying out.

Photo source: Taste of Home
Makeover Pumpkin Gooey Cake by Taste of Home may not seem as healthy as advertised. However, check out Paula Deen's version which uses a BOX OF POWDERED SUGAR, and you'll see the improvements of the Taste of Home recipe.

Photo source: Taste of Home
This Pumpkin Spice Cake has the addition of cocoa and chocolate chips. So it appeals to those (like me) who want Fall flavor of pumpkin and spices, but outside of a pumpkin pie. Also, I just bought a beautiful Nordicware Bundt cake pan from Goodwill, and want to use it!

Chau's Thanksgiving Turkey, 2010
That's the turkey that I made last year using a brining method. For those who prefer smaller portioned chicken for their meal, I recommend the following recipe. It was sent to me by my sister Kim. I've copied and pasted her recipe so that I don't leave out any ingredients. It certainly sounds interesting...


Here is a chicken recipe that also includes the use of
popcorn as a stuffing -- imagine that. When I found this recipe, I
thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure
how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out.
Give this a try.

4 - 5 lb. Chicken
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is Good.)
1 cup uncooked popcorn (Orville Redenbacher's Low Fat
   is good here)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush chicken well with
melted butter, salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing
and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the neck end toward
the back of the oven. Listen for the popping sounds.....

When the chicken's ass blows the oven door open and the
chicken flies across the room and lands on the table,
it's done and ready to eat.

Thanksgiving posts you might enjoy:
Preparing for Thanksgiving
More Turkey Talk
Sweet Talk
One More Thing About Dessert...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boxed mac & cheese

No matter how much I LOVE homemade, I still enjoy boxed mac & cheese.
 Mac & cheese with hot dogs, peas, & carrots.

I know it's not fancy or classy, but it's good!

Mint Tea

Edit: I forgot to address this earlier. You may be wondering, "But Chau, why come you no blog any more?"  In addition to my jobs as optician, office manager, nanny, and ministry coordinator, I am now also a retail cashier. Obviously, this cashiering job fulfills all my professional dreams (no, it doesn't).  Just in case retail doesn't work out for me however, I'm also going back to school in a couple of weeks. I've been accepted into seminary at ______ University, and will be earning my Masters of Religion in Intercultural Studies. It is my hope that I'll be able to use my degree for global ministry work. So, I don't know how often I'll be writing in the future. I'll still be cooking and eating, so let's hope I'll remember to continue writing about it!

Ok. I just posted about blackberry mint jam, and now I'm going to talk about mint tea. My sister and I grew some pineapple mint in a container garden this summer, and it grew so abundant that we couldn't eat it all.
Earlier in the summer, when the weather was still chilly and wet, I came down with a cold. Even with drugs, my throat felt raw. So, I made a tea with our extra mint and some ginger. Mint soothes, and ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It was perfect for my sore throat.

Using a teapot with a removable infuser, I combined the herbs, and added hot water.
Once it got warmer, our mint plant thrived even more. I found that iced mint tea with honey was pretty dang refreshing.
Now that it's autumn, maybe I should stop posting about summertime. Yeah?

Blackberry Mint Jam

We had a very late summer here in Seattle. At the end of September, we FINALLY hit 80 degree temps. During that time, the blackberry vines in our neighborhood ripened, and I was able to harvest the fruit.
Blackberries and snow peas
I froze about half of the them for use during the rest of the year (I put it in oatmeal, tarts, and pies), and the rest I used for...
Blackberry Mint Jam
Last year was my first attempt at blackberry jam, and I was looking forward to jamming again this summer. However, I did two different things this time: 1. I added mint. 2. I used freezer pectin. I have to admit, it kind of felt like cheating when I used the pectin. I wasn't standing in front of a hot stove, pouring tons of sugar onto fruit pulp, and waiting for it to thicken. That being said, I love love love freezer pectin. It came together in a short amount of time, and there was no need to sterilize glass canning jars. I just put the finished product into plastic freezer safe containers, and ate, froze, or gave it away. 

There was very little effort put into this jam, but I loved it's flavor so much more than last year's version. It tasted fresher, and the addition of mint extract was awesome. Its tingle added to the mingle of sweetness and tartness in the jam. 
Instructions for blackberry mint jam:
1. Combine 2/3 c. sugar and 2 Tbsp of instant pectin (I used Ball Brand)
2. Crush 1 2/3 c. of blackberries in another bowl, add mint extract (I added to taste).
3. Add crushed fruit mix to sugar/pectin combo, and stir 3 minutes.
4. Wait 30 min, then ladle into clean containers.
5. Makes 2 half pints of jam. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

This is not about food...

This post is a photo essay about the joys of taking care of my nephew:

Crayon: 1, Wood floor: 0 

Add some toothpaste and a wet rag...

Before  After
Chau: 1, Crayons: Can suck it
Two years ago, I flew to Seattle to meet you, and take care of you. Thanks for being so much fun, Kyle.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Panevino Trattoria

 Was able to meet up with my friend Jamie yesterday. He is visiting Seattle from Virginia, where we attended college. Here are some photos of our lovely meal at Panevino on Capitol Hill. I loved this restaurant. The ambiance was great, the staff were fast/friendly, the wine and food were excellent, and the portions were great for the price. If I'm ever in this area again, I will definitely go back!

Not pictured: That huge glass of Riesling that I normally wouldn't allow myself. It was delicious. 

Antipasto: Bruschetta

Antipasto misto, which is a plate of salami, prosciutto, olives, and grana (cheese)

I opted for the scallopine al marsala, which was "shut the front door" good. I've had mediocre and bad marsala dishes, and this was what a marsala sauce should be. Perfect.

Jamie had the house gnocchi with a pesto sauce. (I'm pretty sure he loved it, but it would have been rude of me to photograph his empty plate.)

Dessert. I normally would have chosen cannoli, but after I'd been walking around Seattle on an unusually hot day, this affogato was a perfect ending to an extremely pleasurable meal.

Jamie and I chose our dishes off of a kind of "prix fixe" menu. For our antipasti (starters), main courses, and dessert, the cost was $25/person, and the portions were huge! It was an awesome deal for well made food, and a great experience.

We survived music school together!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scrambled eggs with salmon caviar

Breakfast this morning:
Scrambled eggs with salmon caviar

I did not use the recipe that I posted yesterday, but kind of did my own thing. Meh. The creaminess of the eggs (I scrambled with plain yogurt instead of creme fraiche) was a nice contrast with the saltiness of the roe, but I couldn't help feeling like I would have appreciated it more as ikuradon. I don't know, maybe I'm too Asian and can only appreciate it as ikuradon or in sushi. Ikuradon will be for dinner tonight!

Salmon "caviar"

Went camping and salmon fishing over the weekend on beautiful Whidbey Island, near Fort Casey State Park. It was my first time fishing for salmon, and I caught 2 of them! After fileting the salmon, I set out to preserve the roe. Ended up using Homebrew Chef's recipe for curing salmon roe. Though the brine itself was easy enough to assemble, it took me a long time to remove the eggs from the membrane. Now I understand why caviar and roe are so expensive!

Town of Coupeville on the island has the BEST mint choc chip at Kapaws Iskreme
Reeling 'em in. "I wants it," said Andrew.
Sunset at Keystone Harbor, where we fished
I worked very hard to make this salmon "caviar"

Uses for cured salmon roe, or salmon "caviar," but I haven't tried:
Ikuradon: salmon caviar with rice and seaweed

Side note: If you'd like to try salmon "caviar," Seattle Caviar Company sells it for $20 for a 4 oz. tin, and I'm sure their process is much more refined than what I did. Or, you could probably find it at a local Asian market for a reasonable price.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kalbi, again

A long, long time ago, I posted about making galbi/kalbi for Memorial Day. Well...I posted about marinating the meat. Then, I never talked about it again. Oopsies. Sorry.

Here's how it turned out:
Galbi. Galbi preeetty happy eating this. (Get it???)

Galbi is a Korean dish of marinated and grilled beef short ribs. It is marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper flakes, garlic, onions, and happiness. I used the recipe found on Savory Sweet Life's blog, though I cheated and baked the ribs in the oven prior to letting them char on the grill. I think it was faster that way. It. was. awesome.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

breakfast this morning

I love cooking, but I don't always feel like making breakfast. I don't have time, or I don't want to stand in front of a hot stove when it's already warm outside (we don't use A/C here in Seattle), or I get lazy. Ok, laziness may be the main reason. Here was my breakfast this morning after I decided not to cook...
Whole wheat english muffin with strawberries and nutella.

*sigh* I'm a very lucky lazy girl.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sneak peak

Orange creamsicle and strawberries and cream flavored jello 

Ok, ok. I know that it's been a while since I posted pictures of raw meat on Memorial Day. The kalbi really was delicious, and I will finished writing about that, I promise! Last Wednesday, I had some wisdom teeth taken out. It has been a bit of a difficult recovery, and it didn't help that the oral surgeon attributed the prolonged recovery time to my "older age." Ouch.

Anyways, those jellos were made today for a Father's Day potluck at church. It seems as though Father's Day makes most people think of their childhood, and jello makes me think of my childhood. It seems a fitting way to celebrate.

Speaking of Father's Day...Many people are using this day to show appreciation for their fathers. I did not grow up with a super dad who was always there for me, but I have met many men who have impacted my life in positive, powerful ways. So, rather than just focusing on dads, let's use this day to honor any man who has helped change your life for the better. Happy Father's Day, everyone!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

It's Memorial Day, so I'm working on marinating some beef short ribs for Kalbi/Galbi, a Korean bbq dish. Here's what it looks like so far:

A little gross looking, but will be soooo delicious!

Happy Memorial Day!!!