Saturday, December 25, 2010

Crazy for Crepes

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

I woke up this morning thinking.. MmMmmmmMMm WAFFLES... But  somehow, my waffle idea turned into.. MmMmMmmMmmmmMMM CREPES...?

Ohhh boy am I in trouble...  Because everyone knows that Crepes are plain Jane until you have...

Which just so happened to be the PERFECT storm...

And what's even worse, I drenched it with Maple Syrup?!?!!!  ...and can't live without powdered sugar!!!

The guilt has sunken in...  I ate two of those Bad Boys and it's not even lunch-time yet...  OOPSIE!!  Guess it's kinda late for Santa to take back his gifts, because it's already open!!

Dessert Crepes (should have known from the name.....)

Ingredients (makes 4)

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • (I added a little bit of vanilla extract too)


Directions


  1. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, flour sugar and salt until smooth.
  2. Heat a medium-sized skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Grease pan with a small amount of butter or oil applied with a brush or paper towel. Using a serving spoon or small ladle, spoon about 3 tablespoons crepe batter into hot pan, tilting the pan so that bottom surface is evenly coated. Cook over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.


It didn't come out thin, like the ones you buy at the Crepe-making stores, but it's thick enough to be handled and swaddled in goodness... and tasty too!!

January marks the start of my diet... So it kinda justifies me eating junk-food until then... riiiight????  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good dessert!! ...for breakfast!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Butter Mochi

Butter Mochi was highly requested for Eric's Christmas pot luck (there are several people from Hawaii who work there) and I'm the lucky winner that has to make it for them!  I thought I'd blog my recipe because there were several people from a past party that told me they couldn't find a good recipe for it. 

If you're not sure what it Mochi is, they now offer it at those Yogert shops (ie; Yogertland and Red Mango); it's those white, soft, chewy, balls that they offer as a topping.  Just so you have a little background information on Mochi, Wikipedia's definition is:  Mochi (Japanese) is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. In Japan it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki.[1] While also eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. Mochi is also a prominent snack in HawaiiTaiwanCambodia, and Thailand.

Ingredients
1 -16 oz Box Mochiko (buy at asian food store)
2 1/2 cups Sugar
2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 can Evaporated Milk
1 -14 oz can Coconut Milk
3 eggs
2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 stick Butter, melted


 



Directions
  1. Pre heat oven to 375
  2. Grease a 9x13 pan or use cooking spray
  3. In a large bowl, sift together Mochiko, Sugar and Baking Powder, mix well
  4. In a medium bowl combine Evaporated Milk, Coconut Milk, Eggs and Vanilla, mix well
  5. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix together until incorporated (hand mixing with a whisk is perfect!)
  6. Stir in melted butter
  7. Pour into pan and tab bottom of pan on a hard surface to settle batter
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is golden brown
    1. Once it reaches 50 minutes, I keep checking on it until the top browns; that's the best part of the dessert!
  9. Cool at least one hour before cutting

Unique, super yummy and such a great comfort food!!  Thanks Cali and Mom for the recipe, they varied very little, but both recipes are equally GREAT!  Merry Christmas to all!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cookie Exchange!

Another FABULOUS idea that my co-worker Molli has come up with: Cookie Exchange for the office!  I've never participated in one or even heard of it so this was a new and exciting concept for me!  I totally recommend it!!

We altered the "rules" a little, because we knew we'd have a larger group (20) of people participating so here's the rules that we followed:

  • All items should be homemade and baked, no store bought items
  • As long as we could throw it all in a bag, you could bring cookies, bars, chocolate, etc (just no cupcakes or cakey items) 
    • it's harder with a larger group to ONLY have cookies so we allowed non-cookie items
  • Bring 3 dozen (or more)
  • Must print your recipe and bring to the exchange
  • Must RSVP and tell the host what item you're bringing, no duplicates
  • Most Importantly, bring a container to take your cookies home!
And because there was a large group, the rules were: as long as you brought 3 dozen cookies, you could choose 3 dozen worth of cookies to take home.  

It was a GREAT way to try different things and gather more recipes for your collection!

If you have a smaller group of people, you can implement the following rules as well:
  • Present cookies in a tray, platter or basket
  • Cookies only, no cookie mixes or bars
  • Bake a dozen for each person attending the party, packaged and ready for gifting PLUS an extra dozen for you to taste-test and eat as you socialize with coffee, tea, or alcohol!
I bought these giant gingerbread cookies from Trader Joe's so Eric and I decorated them for fun and they joined me at the cookie exchange as a center piece for the table!!

Other items that were on the menu:
Cheesecake brownie with chocolate chips
Chocolate Crinkles
Seven Layer magic Cookie Bars
Chocolate Toffee Cookies
Muddy Buddies
Rice Krispies Treats
Toffee Bars
Oreo Balls

Of course, I made my cake pops...  It was highly requested by my co-workers.

We had a GREAT time and it was enjoyed by all!  Such a fun and great way to EAT JUNK FOOD!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cupcake Pop Mold

While surfing through some cool blogs, I stumbled across a cupcake pop MOLD.  How cool!!  Totally wished I thought of inventing this!!  I've already placed my order and I'll post my experience!  I've never made the cupcake shape because it was fairly difficult for me to get the right shape (maybe it's all in my head?).
Cupcake POP Mold

Anyway, you can purchase it on www.mylittlecupcakepop.com.  Post more when I get it!

I GOT IT!
So super excited to have gotten my cupcake mold!!  I'll blog about my experience making it soon!! 

I bought the 4 pack and gave the other three to my friends and my sister.  I heart them!  I'll see if I can get them to take a photo of theirs so you can see it too!

Sweet Dreams

I found this on Itsy-BitsyBites blog, cutely entertaining and funny!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

www.BountifulBaskets.org

Every Saturday, I wake up bright and early, excited to see what my Bountiful Basket will hold!!
2 HUGE cucumbers, blackberries, 3 asian pears, 6 pears, 7 fuji apples, 6 bananas, 3 squash, 1 cantaloupe, 1  pineapple, 1 head of lettuce, 1 celery bunch = $15!!!

My co-worker Molli shared this website with me: www.BountifulBaskets.org.  It's a fruit and vegetable co-op  that supports local and small farms.  With the power of bulk purchasing and eliminating the middle men, your fruits and vegetable baskets are $15 and VERY FRESH!  You don't get to pick and choose what you get, each basket [usually -someone may have carrots and you may have celery] has the same items and same quantities of each of seasonal produce.  The locations are throughout Nevada (and ID, UT, WY, TX, AZ, WA).  They are completely volunteer-run, grassroots, no contracts, no catch, and is not considered a business (for profit)- how conceptually COOL!

So here's how the process goes:

  1. Register on www.BountifulBaskets.org
    1. You have to purchase your basket on Monday or Tuesday.  If you miss the deadline, you can't get your basket for the week- BOO!
  2. Check for the locations nearest you (and make sure you check your pick up time)
    1. Pick up days are always on Saturday
    2. Every other week they offer all Organic fruits and veggies for an extra cost
  3. Your first Basket order will involve a $3.00 first time basket fee for new participants, every order after that will involve a $1.50 processing fee
  4. Select the quantity of Baskets you would like (up to three) -one is more than enough for 2 people!
  5. There are always extra things you can add onto your purchase
    1. 9grain bread: 5 loaves for $10 -I hear it's PHENOMENAL, freezes well and tastes great!
    2. seasonal items like: cases of apples, pumpkin loafs, ginger bread houses, etc 
  6. Make sure you get a confirmation email so you know your order went through
  7. You'll get a reminder email on Friday to double check your pick up time, because occasionally it changes
I'm afraid to tell everyone because they only have a limited number of baskets at each location and I don't want my locations to be sold out before I order mine!!  This is a great GEM that was shared with me, I absolutely LOVE it, am a 100% supporter of it, and will be very excited if you decide to give it try!!  Totally thankful for Molli sharing this with me, and now to you!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies *UPDATED*

Oh my goodness.  I'm hesitant to post this recipe, I want to be selfish and keep it all to myself!!  These cookies... are to die for...  If you've been looking for a chewy choco cookie recipe, look NO further!!  I swear, I'll never buy cookies again...  Heaven in your mouth is an understatement...  Crispy bottom, soft, chewy, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth goodness...  YUMM-O!!

Okay, so I won't take all the credit, another recipe found on AllRecipes.com -gosh I LOVE that site...  Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies  - There it is, I just shared a huge secret that only my bloggers will have!!  The secret - Jello Pudding Mix *GASP*!!!

So here's the recipe that's been tweaked:


Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. 
  4. Slowly beat in the instant pudding mix (dry mix out of the box) until well blended. USE YOUR BLENDER
  5. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. USE YOUR BLENDER
  6. Blend in the flour mixture. USE YOUR BLENDER
  7. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. 
  8. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown

**NOTES** 
If you notice your cookie dough is a little soft and sticky, place in freezer for 15 minutes.  Be sure to alternate cookie sheets so they are NOT hot when you place a new batch of cookies on it.  If you don't have extra cookie sheets, run it under cold water.  There is A LOT of butter in this recipe, placing your dough on a hot cookie sheet will affect your outcome= a flat cookie.  These cookies do not spread much, feel free to load up your cookie sheet!    Take cookies out when edges have browned, it may look undercooked, but it'll be PERFECT, trust me!

I made 1 inch raw cookie dough = 1.5 inch diameter baked cookie.


Enjoy!!!  I swear to you, I'll never BUY cookies, EVER again!!  ...and I think I already at 6 of them right before dinner...  Happy Baking!!


******************U*P*D*A*T*E********************
So I tried again and made the entire recipe this time.  So consistent, it came out 100% perfect AGAIN!  Gosh, I love this recipe!!  This time, I added a bag of peanut butter chips and then added a few choco chips on the tops...just looks pretty is all!

And just to prove to you that these suckers don't flatten and spread a ton, here's the raw ones
And here's how they came out of the oven
And look at how HIGH they are
and equally DELICIOUS!! 

Spicy Salmon with Caramelized Onions

My Uncle Elwin gave us some frozen salmon he had caught earlier in the year.  He delivered it all the way from Seattle (gosh I'm SO special!!)!!  I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com: Spicy Salmon with Caramelized Onions and boyyyy was it yummy!!  I hadn't finished the onions when I took the picture, but it was paired perfectly with the salmon!!  

Here's the recipe if you don't feel like clicking the link:  (surprisingly I had all of the ingredients on hand!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
  •  
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced onion

Directions

  1. Combine the black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to make a paste. Spread the paste all over the salmon fillets, and set aside to marinate at room temperature 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Heat a separate non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the salmon fillets in the hot skillet until golden brown on each side, and no longer translucent in the center, about 4 minutes per side. Pour the browned onions and olive oil over the salmon fillets to serve.


I followed the above exactly.  Even the boyfriend agreed it was really tasty!  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Turkey Day!!

Inspired by my Fav cake pop artist, Bakerella, I attempted to make Turkeys for Thanksgiving!!  Here's what I used:

For the head: I cut the whoppers a tad to make a flat surface and i think it make it a little easier to stick.  Dab a little bit of chocolate and hold in place until it dries.
For the tail, Candy Corn did the job perfectly.  Dab a little bit of chocolate on the end of each Candy Corn and hold it in place until it dries.
  And for the feet, I snapped off the ends of pretzels.  If you're not fast enough to stick the feet in after dipping your cake ball in chocolate, you can always dab a little bit of chocolate at the end of the pretzel and hold in place until it dries.

And there you have it!  A happy family of Turkey Lollicakes or Cake Pops, whatever you want to call it!

And just because my bear is so Friggen cute, here's a picture of my Baby in his new Christmas PJ's!!  AAHH  I LOVE IT!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

30-Minute Minestrone Soup


Winter is right around the corner and it's a perfect time prepare yummy soup for dinner!  30-Minute Minestrone Soup is great when you have leftover veggies!!  I normally make a big pot that would serve 6 people (or more)... or 2 people with days of leftovers + frozen portions for later!!

INGREDIENTS:
(remember, you can add or omit any veggies you want!)
2 medium carrots, chopped - or baby carrots cut in half, or not?
1 1/2 cups chopped cabbage
3 celery rib, chopped (I LOVE celery so you can use less)
1 small onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 can green beans
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
32 oz chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans Italian stewed or diced tomatoes, undrained
2/3 cup cooked macaroni (elbow, ziti, anything!)

you can also add:
chopped potatoes or spinach

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a saucepan, saute carrots, cabbage, celery, onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes.
2. Add broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender
4. In a separate saucepan, bring water to a boil and cook Macaroni until Al Dente.  Strain and put aside.
5. Add macaroni when ready to eat (if you put it in your soup prior, it may absorb the liquid, add more water if necessary)
6. Add salt and pepper to taste

Dee-Lish!!  Super yummy, quick, and easy!!  Not to mention- HEALTHY! ...just thought I'd share! xoxo

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Secret to my Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake!

Red Velvet Cheesecake, YUM!!  This has got to be my new favorite!!  Not only does EVERYONE LOVE the combined together, it's QUICK and EASY!!

I use box cake mix- bake as directed on the box.  BUT, I add 1/2 a package of Jello instant pudding, cheesecake flavor, it helps keep the cake moist and also makes it a little heavier.

I cut make round in half with my cake leveler (gosh I love this thing!)

I take the top half off so I can start layering my frosting and cake...

Here's my TOP SECRET weapon.  I found this by accident right next to the Philadelphia Cream Cheese- GASP - "Ready to Eat" ?!?!??!!

So I separate it into 3 sections for my 3 layers.  (I also put this into the freezer for 30 minutes prior to use so it would be firm enough to keep a thick layer and thin enough to spread)

No need to worry about crumbs in the layers.  Just keep it about 1/4 inch from the edge or it'll gush out the sides!  I'm bad about creating a frosting wall FIRST (you pipe frosting at the edge of the cake to prevent the icing from gushing over the edge) I was short on time and lazy...I'm a bad example, I know...

Here's my layers and what the cake looks like before the crumb coating.

I didn't document my crumb coat or my frosting technique, sorry.

But here's the finished product!!  I used chocolate fondant to make strips approximately 1 inch in width.  I also used white fondant to make fun circles.  I hand cut the letters out of fondant too, but there's GOT TO BE an easier solution.  I have to find alphabet cutters!!  What a quick and fun project!!

Baby Shower Cake


We have 3 1st time parents having babies in the office so we decided to have a party to celebrate!  Of course, I was in charge of bringing the cake!  I had to make cupcakes too, I knew the cake wouldn't be enough for our entire department.

I'm not a fan of fondant (the taste) so I used frosting to ice the cake. Then added fondant accents to make the cake look a little snazzy!  Super easy project because the fondant pieces weren't too extravagant!  Of course, there were no left overs, everyone told me it tasted amazing!

Congratulations, Yuliya, Rahul and Ashley on your bundles of joy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Random Cool Finds

So every-so-often I come across something really cool, UNIQUE, different, fUnKY, fun, OR boutique-ish and I want to tell SOMEONE, anyone really...  I'm a dork when it comes to kitchen things or things that make life EASY- it makes me excited and all giggly.  My last kitchen purchase was a KitchenAid can opener- I immediately went home and opened a can of corn.. ALLL rightttt- I'm a DORK- I KNOW!

AnywhoOoO while I was looking for birthday gifts for my BFF and Sister, I stumbled across:

URBANO ECO CAN
It's called Bag Lady Urbano Eco Can and comes in different colors.  It's an ingeneous trash can that allows you to recycle your grocery bags in a neat and organized (those words excite me!) way.  You loop the handles of the bags on the cut-out portion of the Eco Can and when you're ready for another one- there's no need to fish them out from under the sink- it's waiting at the bottom for you!!!  Partially uber excited because the Boyfriend NEVER puts in a new bag... sigh...  Super cool website: www.uncommongoods.com.

and then I also found these super unique Wine Glass Top Appetizer Plates - OMG what a great housewarming gift RIGHT??!!!?!?!

What GENIUS thought of this!?!  Because we've all been STUCK with no table to park our Wine Glass and the other hand with a mini plate full of DE-lish food and not an extra hand to help shovel the food in your mouth!!  And isn't it hilarious (OK so I'm mean- but I don't laugh out loud!) to see someone trying to balance their plate with their glass in the same hand?!  Of course, there's the plate that also seat your glass (see below), but this is WAY more unique- much more thoughtful!  Check it out at http://www.catchingfireflies.com

Wrapables Cocktail Party Plates
Okay, so here they are..  Cocktail Party Plates. BUT these are WAY cute...  and check out the set it comes in:

Wrapables Cocktail Party Plates 2
Aaawww, look at these nice words "You're fun to be with" and "We feel lucky to know you".  Check it out at http://www.wrapables.com

OK OK and my last cool find that has NOTHING to do with the kitchen and EVERYTHING to do with presentation:  Personalized Wrapping Paper!!!
Silver Formal Gift Wrap
So it doesn't come in a bunch of colors or designs, BUT how COOL is that?!?  You can write something really personal and that's a GREAT finishing touch to any gift!!!  Check it out at http://www.grandinroad.com

Happy Shopping all!

A Monkey Birthday party for Kayden!


Happy Birthday Kayden!

I was tasked with a Monkey Themed birthday party for Kayden.  The ideas were endless and oh-so exciting!   Seeing that I'm still a beginner with fondant, I decided to take a stab at it for a second time.  I wans't too sure how long it would take so I used the weekend before the party to get the banana leafs done (although in retrospect, it would have probably been better to do them last minute).  

I tinted the white Fondant (that's all I had on hand) and rolled it out.  I was very inclined to roll it out very thin, I have no idea why?

I'm not sure what the fondant experts say about my use of a knife to cut my banana leaf, but it worked like a charm!

I accented the leaves with a few cuts on the edges.

I scored the middle of the leaf.

And again, with not a pocket full of fondant tools, I used the back of a butter knife to make some accent lines to the leaf.  (haha, I'm very resourceful, what can I say?)

Each leaf was left to hang over the edge of the cake pan that I'll use to bake the cake.  And here's where I went wrong, because the fondant dried on the straight edges, not anticipating that my cake wouldn't be as nearly as level or perfect as the cake pan. 

 Here's the finished leaves, I added a little more tint to the left over green fondant to have different shades of green.  And also made the rest of the accessories.

And here's the monkey, cake topper complete!

And at the very last minute I wrote his name in fondant circles.  I had other ideas, but didn't have enough time to do it.

In addition to the cake, I found this mold at Michael's- How FUN is this?!  I knew what a tedious task I was getting myself into, but what the heck- it's worth a shot!!  With all the different colors, it was a tiny bit time-consuming, each tray took me about 30 minutes (I only bought one tray).  BUT the end result- PHENOMENAL!!

How super cute is this?!

I dotted the eyes with edible marker.

I found it a little therapeutic, in a sense.  I had to concentrate so hard on remembering the layers of colors and remelting each color!  Fun stuff!

What are these cute little one inch monkeys doing?!  Birthday Mom ordered these online.  How friggen cute?!  (a few people asked if I made these- are you Kiddin' me?! haha)

Chocolate and banana muffins- YUMMY!  I stuck each in a bit of chocolate so they would be stable and they would stay upright.

I made a smash cake for Kayden with a few too!

I LOVE IT!

There's the Birthday Boy with a little help from his dad!  Needless to say, Kayden reaches over his head to give his dad a taste, all over his face!  It was a smash cake indeed, and ended up the face of the cutie-pa-tootie next to him!

Birthday Mom had made some of the cutest tissue pom-poms to decorate the pavilion at the park. So festive!

And if you're curious about the cake flavor... Red Velvet with Cheesecake layers and whipped vanilla frosting!