Thursday, October 31, 2013

Taking Home the Prize this Halloween!

Some of you may recall last Halloween and my close call to winning the dessert contest at work, but getting robbed! I was hesitate to sign-up for the contest again this year, in fear that I would be disappointed again... Luckily, the competitive person that I am, I wanted to win first place and the only way to do that is to compete! I decided to stick with a "Fall" theme and whip out the pumpkin recipes. I decided to go with a basic pumpkin cupcake recipe and to spruce it up with some spooky eyeballs and cute pumpkins.

Unfortunately, I did not capture a good picture of the final product. I cut the cupcakes in half horizontally and filled with a cinnamon whipped cream cheese frosting, topped with more frosting and a bed of crushed oreos to represent dirt. The idea I was going for was a "pumpkin patch" with some eyeballs mixed in. I gave my dish the clever name of "iPatch" to represent a pumpkin patch full of eyesSmileyhehe I'm so cheesy and proud of it! I am very happy to announce that not only did I win the Best Dessert, but I also won the Best Overall Food Dish at the potluck!!Smiley Talk about a great comeback; stole the show! Now I can retire from the Halloween potluck contest.

Hope you all have a great Halloween and Happy Trick-or-Treating!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Strawberry Banana Bread

Let's continue the last of the summer berries recipe month with a great quick bread. My boyfriend can tell you that I have a tendency to buy bananas and forget to eat them all before they start speckling and then I just use the excuse that I wanted to make banana bread even though I really just forgot we had bananas. I really should start putting them in a more noticeable location in the kitchen. I didn't want to make my normal banana bread since I have been forgetting about my bananas a lot lately... so I looked around in the fridge and we had some fresh strawberries and I thought strawberries, bananas, of course those flavors go together!

I normally put plain Greek yogurt in my banana bread as well but this week, we didn't have anymore of the plain yogurt, but guess what?! We had strawberry Greek yogurt!

Strawberry Banana Bread, adapted from America's Test Kitchen

2 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1½ cups very ripe mashed bananas (approx. 3 bananas)
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
¼ cup strawberry Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
¾ cup diced strawberries

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not ready for fall yet - Lemon Berry Muffins

With most bloggers getting ready for fall and posting pumpkin this and that, I am not ready to go into the fall season yet. Summer berries have slowly started going off sale at the grocery store, and this makes me sad. Not only because it affects my green smoothies in the morning but because I love baking with summer berries as well. I am making this month the last of the summer berries recipe month! Let's start if off with a simple breakfast muffin.

Lemon Berry Muffins, adapted from America's Test Kitchen

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 large eggs
½ cup butter, melted and cooled

1½ cups fresh mixed berries
1 tbsp. flour


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pandan Coconut Ice Cream

Pandan, have you ever heard of it? Growing up, I ate many sweets flavored with Pandan, although I didn't really learn what it was until my early 20s. It is a common flavor used in Southeast Asian desserts, similarly to how Vanilla is used in most American baked goods. If you have ever been into an Asian bakery and seen bright green cakes and such, that gorgeous green hue is attributable to Pandan. I ate many green desserts as a child but honestly never knew what that distinct flavor was and always just thought the green color was from food coloring to make things more exciting.

However, in my adult years I started to see trendy Asian restaurants serving Pandan flavored desserts, and not until then did I realize I had been eating Pandan my whole life. My sister and I started to become obsessed with ordering beignets with pandan ice cream at one of our local sushi restaurants in Houston. Now that I live in Austin, I don't get to enjoy those delicious pillowy beignets and ice cream. When my sister decided to pay me a visit last weekend, we decided to make our own pandan ice cream! Great decision!

Pandan Coconut Ice Cream, adapted from America's Test Kitchen
(makes approximately 1 quart)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)
3/4 cup whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar, split
4 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. Pandan paste

Directions:
(1) Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set the bowl in a larger container of ice water. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar together until smooth. Set both bowls aside.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Art of Perfecting Macarons

Bright Pink Beauties!
Sometimes you fail, and it happens to everybody, don't let it get the best of you. Macarons are one of those things that I thought I would never get right... Two years and three attempts later, I finally have hope that maybe I can get it right. Yes, two years. Every time that I failed, it was a blow to my ego. I know that I said don't let it get the best of you, but it did steal a little from my motivation each time I failed. But then like everything, the feeling passed and I was ready to give it another go. I have to admit, I documented each journey of macaron failure with the thought that I would never get to share my progress.

I am extremely happy to say that I made such progress today with this batch of macarons that I just had to share the bad and ugly along with the good.

Attempt #1: Cracked shells, No feet, and Hollow

Attempt #2: No feet and Hollow (Yay, no cracks!)

Attempt #3: No cracks, with feet but Hollow (Yay, no cracks and WITH feet!!!)
1. Cracked, No feet and Hollow, 2. No feet and Hollow, 3. Hollow

Now, I must learn to battle the Hollows.
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