Archive for ‘recipes’

May 9, 2011

an orange drink

Hi everyone, hope you all had a great weekend!

This weekend was my first weekend spent WORKING! It was really fun though, so I didn’t mind. My weekends have now shifted to Mondays and Tuesdays (which means I am on my weekend now!)

I am really loving my job. Remember how I said I was having trouble with frosting the cupcakes? Well, I think I’m finally starting to get it! They’ve even let me start frosting and decorating their “extra” cupcakes – which is a HUGE privilege!

From left to right: Snickerdoodle (I can’t not have one of these each day I’m working), Red Velvet, Buttercup, Carrot Cake, Grandma’s Tea Cake, and Orangesicle, and Lemon Drop at the top. I did ALL of these cupcakes! Can you tell I’m proud of myself? Hehe =). But these are just their standard designs!



Here are a some of their custom designs:



For a birthday:



For a baby shower:

I can’t wait until I can start doing the custom designs!



I went a little apartment hunting over the weekend (the standard weekend) as well! I didn’t see anything too promising except for ONE place. It’s a small studio and I love it. I’m corresponding with the landlord, but I’m really crossing my fingers that everything will fall through. The commute to work has been the only thing I can really complain about with my new job. It has really not been fun at all…especially at 5 in the morning! I hope I can get this place…



Since today was my day off, I cleaned up (majorly needed) and also made a refreshing drink…THAI ICED TEA!

That Thai Iced Tea is from a restaurant, but for a while I’ve been wanting to make one at home!



I found some Thai tea leaves from the Asian Supermarket:



I measured out some tea leaves…

Immediately when I opened this bag I could smell the aroma of Thai Iced Tea...mmmmm!


And then placed it in a heat-safe bowl.



Then I boiled some water and poured it into the bowl:



And set the timer for 5 minutes!



You can already see the orange-yness to the tea…that made me excited!



Then you put some sugar into another heat-safe bowl:



And strain the tea into that bowl.



Make sure to get ALL the tea juice out of the leaves!



Then pour it in a cup and cool it in the fridge!

Look at the deep color in that tea. Soooo beautiful! This would normally serve one but I had to share with Jeff so we each only got half of this tea.



Once the tea is cooled, fill a cup with ice…



Pour the tea…



And slowly pour evaporated milk over the top!



This is actually my first time buying and using evaporated milk. I’d say it is an extremely watery version of condensed milk, which is awesome in my book!



Make sure to pour the evaporated milk slowly though because you really want that two layer effect with the Thai Iced Tea.



This is the beauty of Thai Iced Teas because you can mix it around completely (which Jeff likes to do) or mix it around slowly (which I like to do). No matter what, it eventually gets all mixed up…

Yum. It tasted exactly like in the Thai restaurants. Next time, I might put even less sugar (reflected in the final recipe)!

The hardest part about this is finding the Thai leaves. Go to your local Asian supermarket though, and you should be able to find it!



Thai Iced Tea

Serves: 1



Ingredients:

2/3 cup Thai tea leaves

1 2/3 cup water, boiled

3 T sugar

Evaporated milk for topping (I used 2 T per drink)



Directions:

Place Thai tea leaves in a heat-safe bowl. Pour the boiled water over the Thai tea leaves. Steep for 5 minutes.

In a separate heat-safe bowl, place the sugar. Strain the steeped tea through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the sugar.

Mix well so that the sugar gets dissolved into the tea.

Fill a tall glass with ice and pour the tea into the cup, leaving room at the top. Slowly pour in the evaporated milk so that it creates a double layer.

Mix and enjoy!



Nutritional Information: 160 calories, 0.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 35mg sodium, 39g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 39g sugar, 2g protein

May 4, 2011

french macarons, conquered

Thanks so much for all your good thoughts on my new job! :D

I’m definitely excited for this opportunity. In a big way, it makes me feel a little more secure in my decision to not have gone to culinary school this year. If you haven’t read my About page, it discusses briefly that I applied to the Culinary Institute of America (the one in Napa, CA) and I was set to start this past March. It cost a lot of money to go through the application process and once I was accepted, I was THIS CLOSE to going. In the end, I couldn’t justify $100,000+ in loans (including living loans), especially since a culinary career does not guarantee $$$ as another career would, such as a medical career.

There were quite a few people that urged me to go to culinary school because they knew cooking and baking were passions of mine. Their reasoning was that if I was really passionate about it, I should go no matter how much it costs. I like and respect that train of thought, but I also think that people can follow their passions without spending unjustified buttloads of money.

In the end, I am not a culinary student and I am not more in debt than I already am! And I’m excited to start a job and continue this blog that will both help me further my culinary knowledge. I hope. :)



So since today was my last day before I start on this new job, Jeff got off of work early and we had big plans to do AWESOME things. In the end, we took a nap and pretty much just relaxed the whole day – which was pretty awesome if I do say so! We had hotdogs made with Hawaiian King rolls again! This time I used Louisiana hot links and topped it off with the last of my cilantro :(, diced white onion, my Thai pickled chili peppers, and ketchup.

Perfection!



Aaaand, as a way to celebrate my new job at a bakery, I BAKED! French Macarons seemed appropriate.

I bought the ingredients to make French Macarons a little while ago, but I’ve been putting off making them because I was SCURRED! They seemed more difficult-than-average to make, and I was a little intimidated. For my first time making French Macarons, I’m pretty darn happy with how they came out.

French Macarons are actually pretty simple. There are just quite a few steps and you really need to be precise! I used a food scale and measured in grams instead of by volume. But it’s really very simple – the main ingredients include almond meal, confectioner’s sugar, egg whites, and white sugar.



I got my almond meal from Whole Foods:



You really want your dry ingredients (almond meal and confectioner’s sugar) to be super fine, so I whirred them away in my single-serve blender.



And ran the mixture through a sifter.



You may need to use a spatula or a spoon to really get the almond meal through the sieve!



But the work is worth it, because you get a nice powdery result.



In the meantime, you combine the white sugar with a little bit of water in a small pot on low heat, and slowly set it to simmer.



And while that’s heating up, you measure out 50g of egg whites (which is basically 1.5 egg whites) and split them evenly between a large bowl and a small bowl. So there are 25g of egg whites in each bowl.



Take the bigger bowl, and whip the egg whites until peaks form!



As the sugar and water mixture starts to bubble and simmer (you want it to simmer until it gets to 224F). When it gets to 224F, SLOWLY stream the sugar/water mixture into the whipped egg whites and continue to whip. Once it’s all incorporated together, set your mixer on high and continue whipping until the mixture turns glossy and glowy and purrrtty! It reminds me of marshmallow fluff. Yum.



THEN you add the egg whites from the small bowl (remember that one?), along with this glossy mixture into the sifted dry ingredients:



At this point, you want to fold this in really well until it’s well mixed together, but not OVERMIXED.



Then you place this batter into a pastry bag…



And start piping out little circles!



Oh, a little tip – you can pipe a small dot in the corners of the parchment paper so that it doesn’t slide around!



Then you bake! (I rotated the pan a couple times while it was baking because my oven bakes pretty unevenly).



They should only brown SLIGHTLY. BARELY. I was so happy to see little feet on my naked macarons…



This is what the bottoms looked like, which I was pretty happy with.



The longer I waited after they baked, the easier it was to peel the macarons off the parchment paper. At first I tried to get them off with a spatula, but I found out quickly that they should be PEELED!



As they cooled, it was time to make the FILLING!


White chocolate chips, Blackberry preserves, and Heavy whipping cream.



I’ve made a discovery about myself recently. I think my favorite fruit is BLACKBERRIES. So juicy, so seedy, so COOL looking. And I love these Blackberry preserves because they have actual pieces of blackberries in there…

I ate that of course.



So to make the filling, you combine the white chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a double broiler until it gets nice and melted.



And then add the Blackberry preserves to that:



And then you have to REALLY let this cool. It was a particularly hot day here in the Bay Area and I don’t think I waited quite long enough for the mixture to thicken up, but what can I say, I’m an impatient woman!

It did thicken up considerably though-



You want the perfect amount of dollop – not too much that it oozes out of the sides, but not too little that you can’t see it!



And then sandwich it together!

Cute!



These were REALLY delicious. Comparable to Miette’s, methinks. Okay, maybe not. Actually I really don’t know. I need to get some more of Miette’s to find out. Research purposes, you know?

The only thing I’d do differently next time is get the filling THICKER.

I’m not intimidated by French Macarons anymore (remember, it’s only one “o.” Macaron, not Macaroon!). Now I’m not even afraid of frosting those cupcakes tomorrow! I can do it! Yeah!

Moving on…

If you haven’t made Macarons yet, DO IT!



French Macarons with White Chocolate Blackberry Ganache

Macaron recipe by Syrup and Tang.

Filling recipe by Jenna at Eat Live Run, who adapted it from David Levobitz.

Makes: 11 petite macarons



Ingredients: 

67g almond meal

67g confectioner’s sugar

67g granulated sugar

16g water

50g egg whites (about 1.5 egg whites)

*If you want to make more or less macarons, you can alter the recipe by taking the amount of egg whites you want to use (in this case 50g) and multiply the other ingredients, except the water, by 1.35 (in this case 67g). The water, you multiply by .33 (in this case 16g).



for the filling:

4oz white chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 T blackberry preserves



Directions:

Preheat oven to 300F. Stack 2 or 3 baking pans on top of each other. Line the top one with parchment paper.

Place granulated sugar and water in a small pot and set aside.

Measure out the egg whites and divide in half, half into a larger bowl and the other half into a smaller bowl. Set aside for now.

In a bowl, sift the almond meal and confectioner’s sugar (If you want to get the mixture super fine, spin it in a blender before sifting).

Now grab the small pot with the granulated sugar and water and place on a stove over low heat. Stir once or twice to get the sugar to dissolve but once the mixture starts simmering, leave it alone. When it starts to simmer slightly, check the temperature and continue to simmer until it gets to 224F.

While you wait for the sugar/water mixture to simmer, whip the egg whites in the larger bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Whip until it gets stiff peaks – just as the sugar/water mixture gets to 224F. Once the sugar/water mixture is ready, slowly stream it into the whipped egg whites and continue to mix on low. Once it is all incorporated, set the mixer to high and continue to beat for a few minutes until the mixture is stiff and glossy.

At this point, add the egg whites in the smaller bowl into the almond meal/confectioner’s sugar mixture, then add the glossy egg white/sugar mixture on top of that. With a spatula, fold the mixture together quickly and well – until it’s well mixed together. Make sure not to OVERMIX though. The final batter should be thick, yet flowing – like lava.

Pour this batter into a piping bag and pipe out small circles about 1 1/2 inches wide. (The easiest way to do this is pipe vertically and let it naturally fall into a circle). There should be no peaks in the circles and the circles may spread slightly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes and rotate the pan midway so that there is even baking. It is done when the circles are no longer jiggly, firm to the touch, and a pale ivory color.

Let it cool completely and gently peel off the circle macaron shells and set aside.

To make the filling, combine the white chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a double broiler until melted together. Add the blackberry preserves. Cool completely until it thickens up considerably.

Put a small dollop of the filling in one macaron shell, and cover it with another macaron shell to sandwich it together gently. Don’t let the filling ooze out of the sides but don’t put too little either!

Enjoy! And refrigerate whatever you don’t eat…if there is any!



Nutritional Information for 1 Macaron: 95 calories, 4g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 10mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 0.5g fiber, 9.5g sugar, 1.5g protein

April 28, 2011

unlimited spice

You may recall a few days ago when Jeff and I went to a Thai restaurant. We love Thai food, but we love it even MORE when it’s eaten with Thai Pickled Chili Peppers. Or is it Thai Pickled Jalapenos? Most Thai restaurants have it, but they don’t usually have it out on the table already with the chili sauces. You usually have to ask for it.

And we don’t like just eating a little throughout the meal. We like eating a piece (or several pieces) of chili pepper slices with EVERY BITE.

At the recent Thai restaurant we went to, we naturally asked for the pickled chilis. The waitress brought out a small container with about 5 slices of jalapeno. It was clearly NOT ENOUGH. The next time she came to our table we asked her if we could have more. She brought out another container with literally about 3 slices of jalapeno!

We decided to stop asking for more and just try to let those few slices of chili pepper last through the meal. Oh, but how I wished I had a LIMITLESS amount of pickled jalapenos. I didn’t want to feel like I had to “save” them. I wanted an endless supply!

ENTER: Making my own.

These are Mexican Serrano Chili Peppers and I bought them at my local Asian supermarket (Ranch 99). I wasn’t 100% sure which type of chili peppers to use. My first instinct was to use the chili peppers called “Thai Chili Peppers” but they’re super tiny and I think they’re mainly used in cooking dishes, not for pickling.

There were also regular jalapenos, which I’m sure would work perfectly fine but these Mexican Serrano Chili Peppers looked like the size of the pickled chili peppers I see at Thai restaurants. So I went with them, and they’re perfect!



I sliced them thinly…



And made sure not to touch my eyeballs!



After slicing them all up I put them into empty mason jars (I used 2 small-ish ones) and then I got started on the pickling ingredients:



Pour about a cup of White Distilled Vinegar in a bowl/measuring cup.



And to that, add 2 tablespoons white sugar…



and 1 teaspoon salt…



And mix it until it gets all dissolved (it dissolves pretty quickly!).



Then pour the “pickling juice” into the mason jar. This was a recipe for just one mason jar, so I made it twice (or you can just double the recipe). Just make sure the chili peppers get fully immersed in the “juice”!



And behold the beauty you have just created!



I was a PROUD pickled chili pepper mama!



Jeff and I are spicy food FANATICS. Most of our meals (pastas, sandwiches, stir-fries, pizza) are doused in some sort of hot chili sauce. These are 2 of our favorites!

Sriracha and Chili Garlic Sauce. I like the one on the right a little more because it’s a little more “chunky” and has actual chili flakes!



And paired with these pickled chili peppers…it’s a match made in heaven!

You can pretty much eat these pickled chili peppers right away (we ate it just a couple hours later) but it definitely just gets better with age!



I was so excited for tonight’s dinner because I was making something that would go so well with these pickled chili peppers (most things do though, so it wasn’t that hard)

I made a simple stir-fry with Jasmine rice, and of course my favorite chili sauce and my beloved pickled chili peppers. I went back for thirds on the chili sauce and pickled chili peppers.



Sigh…it was so wonderful not to have an “unlimited” supply. =) I’m pretty confident I’m going to be making these ALL my life.




Thai Pickled Chili Peppers

Recipe from All Recipes (just the amounts are altered)

Makes: 2 small jars



Ingredients:

20-25 Serrano Chili Peppers (I’m sure other varieties of chili peppers would work as well)

2 cups white distilled vinegar

4 T sugar

2 tsp kosher salt



Directions:

Thinly slice chili peppers and split equally into 2 small mason or canning jars.

In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Mix until sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the mixture evenly into each jar.

Store and use up to a few months.


Are you a fan of spicy foods or tend to avoid them??

April 27, 2011

rolls for buns

I’m watching American Idol as I type this up. This is pretty much the first time I’m watching it all season though so I don’t know or have any attachments to any of the contestants! Lauren Alaina is singing right now. Don’t know anything about her, but she must be popular if she’s made it this far!

For dinner tonight I wanted to make HOTDOGS! I had exactly 2 leftover Chicken Sausages from Trader Joe’s to use up, but what I didn’t have was hotdog buns. So I went to Target to pick up some…hotdog buns?? Nope! THESE! :

When Jeff and I went down to LA about a month ago, we had hotdogs from a little place in Pasadena that uses these delicious rolls for their hotdog buns. I thought it was a GENIUS idea, especially since I love these rolls so much! Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the place because Jeff and his brother went to go pick up the hotdogs for us to eat at their home.



I think that hotdog place used 3 Hawaiian rolls, but I decided to use 2 because my dogs weren’t quite as long as theirs. So just rip out however many rolls you want, but make sure they stay in tact!



And then get a serrated knife and start slicing down the middle…



But make sure not to slice all the way through…you want it to look like a hotdog bun!



Just like this!

You can toast these (which I did) or just leave them as is.



And voila, here’s my hotdog!

Yeah, I really don’t kid around when I profess my love for cilantro. So darn good!



A few things I will do differently next time:

1. Use Hot Links instead of these Chicken Sausages. Chicken Sausages just don’t seem to be the best for hotdogs (they’re better sliced and pan fried, in my opinion!) and especially this flavor (Apple Chardonnay) was too sweet. Hot Links would be PERFECT in this.

2. BUY MUSTARD. Mustard, mustard, mustard how have I been without you for so long now?

3. Add chopped raw white onion.



Anyways, lately we’ve been on an ice cream kick. We’ve been enjoying a bowl of ice cream almost every night (usually Haagen-Dazs Rocky Road) but I decided to try out a couple flavors that were on sale:

I was SO excited for these flavors, but unfortunately they were a bit of a letdown. Blueberry Crumble didn’t have nearly enough “crumbles” and it would better be named “Blueberry Ice Cream.” The Caramel Apple Pie was a little better, but not as good as the classic Haagen Dazs flavors!

Do any of you remember the Haagen-Dazs flavor “Sticky Toffee Pudding”? It was created in a contest (this was back in 2007) and the winner would get to make it an official (limited time I guess) Haagen-Dazs flavor. BEST ICE CREAM EVER! Unfortunately, they’ve stopped making it but there’s even a Facebook page for it to have Haagen-Dazs bring it back! Pretty funny, but I would be sooo happy if they actually did bring it back!

I’ve never had ACTUAL Sticky Toffee Pudding before though. I’ve never seen it in restaurants either or I would totally order it! Guess I have to go to England for it? Or make it myself! I usually don’t like creating recipes without actually trying a legit version first though.

Have you ever had Sticky Toffee Pudding? What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?