Friday, January 22, 2010

Picture Me This

Who loved reading picture books growing up? I did! My imagination was always pretty vivid but hey, it's nice to see some pretty pictures and illustrations. Pictures are even better on cookbooks better yet baking cookbooks. Why you may ask? Well, if you're a self-taught baker like myself, you've learned what you know now by following recipes, google and numerous food/baking blogs out there that share their passion with everyone and are usually pretty helpful but sometimes that's not enough.

When I first got into baking, I was pretty intimidated. I've always just used a box mix of whatever and the only thing I've tried to make from scratch are brownies and nobody can really eff up a brownie. (Okay maybe you can burn it but I never did so :P) So, my first try at baking something from scratch was cupcakes then sweet breads and then breads. The one thing I haven't really tried to make are pastries, such as a "frou frou" pastry like danish or the "I need people to eat this" pie. As much as I love to bake, I can't exactly eat everything that I make so there in lies my problem. But I digress.

Last week whilst looking for a silicone wire whisk at Beall's Outlet (which they were out of sadly :() I decided to peruse the book section. You can always find cheap books/cookbooks at this store (also Ross) Low and behold I found this pretty lil baking cookbook!


I haven't actually made anything from this cookbook yet but let me tell ya, I paid $7.99 for this wonderful book and it retails on for way more than I paid for. This cookbook is pretty amazing! The photographs are fantastic and really helps a novice baker like me who can't exactly afford to pay the big bucks to go to culinary school. For a self-taught baker like myself, sometimes you see terms or descriptions that you're not exactly sure what it's supposed to look like or even what it means! Google is always helpful but you can't always be next to your computers or laptops. This book is great for those occasions :) The recipes are simple and seemingly delicious (I was drooling a bit looking at the pictures in this book) and every step has a picture to guide you. How awesome is that? Pretty freakin awesome!

Watch out for some deliciousness that will be gracing this blog because this cookbook. If like myself, you like (love) to collect all sorts of cookbooks I highly recommend perusing your discount stores (even thrift stores) for some great and cheap finds. You never know what you may find

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bears like Salmon. I guess I'm a bear?

I know that you know that eating fish is good for you. But let's be honest here, there are only so many ways you can cook a fish and majority of us don't exactly like the fishy smell afterward. (get your mind out of the gutter's not there? ok well, then maybe it's just me in the gutter :P)

As I've said in the previous post, I'm on a fish kick at the moment, in my attempts to eat healthy and all that jazz. Mainly, so I can eat more cupcakes and stuff without feeling so guilty. This salmon is delicious! It's a little bit sweet and tangy and just the right amount of kick (if you add the crushed red peppers that is) It's packed with flavor yet super simple, quick and easy to make. The marinade can also be used for chicken or tofu, it's very much an Asian flavor (to me anyway without all the grease and MSG that comes from ordering take-out Chinese) So, without further ado, I present you with Honey Lemon Soy marinated Salmon!

Honey Lemon Soy marinated Salmon

Here's the recipe:


Salmon (skinned. I used about 1lb)
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp roasted garlic oil or canola/vegetable oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup of soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic (or more if you want it extra garlic-y)
1/2 - 1 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional but just to add a little kick)


• Rub salt on Salmon. Place on a deep dish plate or tray.
• In a small bowl, combine honey, oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well and pour over fish making sure that it coats every spot.
• Marinate for at least 30 minutes. The longer (a few hours to over night) the better.
• Heat up a non-stick pan drizzle some garlic oil or whatever oil you may have handy. Make sure pan and oil is hot enough before putting the fish in.
• Cook each side of the fish about 4-5 minutes. Longer depending on how thick the cut of fish you have.

I served (ate) this with jasmine rice and broccoli slaw sauteed in garlic oil, salt & pepper to taste.

You can serve this with whatever you feel like. I'm Asian and I love to eat rice with everything...really everything. I love chocolate rice porridge (champorado) but I digress that's for another time and another post.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gimme S'more Of That!

So, I am cheating a little bit on this post. This is an old post from my old lj (livejournal) just edited.

My go-to chocolate cake recipe is always Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate cake it's moist, chocolate-y and yummy! Usually I substitute the cocoa powder with dark cocoa powder and it's Deeh Vine! You can use whatever chocolate cake or even graham cake recipe you want but this is what I used. It yields about 24-32 cupcakes

These bad boys have a graham crust bottom. What kind of s'more will it be without graham crackers?!

Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 cup Melted Butter

• Mix butter and Graham Cracker crust till the graham crackers soaked-up the butter.

• Scoop a spoonful of the crust into each cupcake wrapper and press down with either a spoon or the bottom of a shot glass. Once all the cupcake liners have graham crusts, pour in batter filling 2/3 up. Don't over fill!

• Crush some graham cracker (not the crumbs) and sprinkle on top. Bake cake as directed in recipe.

Marshmallow Frosting
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

• Combine sugar and egg whites over double broiler, whisk constantly till sugar is melted (160 degrees)

• Pour on mixer with whisk attachment, whisk on medium high till u reach stiff peaks. adding vanilla a teaspoon at a time.

• Pipe over cooled cupcakes. Then "roast" the marshmallow frosting and add a piece of Hershey's chocolate as garnish.

One of the things I love about making this cupcake is the fact that I get to break out my culinary torch! It's the best part of this whole thing! (I think so anyways lol)

*If you have left over marshmallow frosting, you can pipe it into a baking pan lined with parchment paper, bake at 350 degrees till brown and cracking. Yummy meringue!

Psuedo Smores

Psuedo Smores

Psuedo Smores

Impromptu Dinner Get Together

Last week I got a DM (direct message) from @LoveMyPhilly asking for my e-mail because they have a "special opportunity" for some of their followers, so of course I said sure! Soon after I responded I got an email, it contained a recipe that they would like me to try and review and in exchange they told me that I they would send me a paperback cookbook as well as coupons. (Which I already received :)) I'm a sucker for new recipes and what a great excuse to have some friends over! I had two of my girl friends who lived close by come over for dinner a couple of days later to help me critique the recipe and of course have some girl talk. Let me tell you girl talk is always fabulous when it's accompanied by good food and wine :)

As I was making the main dish which was Creamy Tomato-Basil Pasta with Chicken I served some Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus mind you this appetizer is super easy to make and is always a hit whenever I've made it. Besides, who doesn't like bacon? Everybody loves bacon! Well...except for maybe vegetarians but I bet you they loved bacon too before they decided to not eat Babe anymore ;)

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Fresh Asparagus (amount is up to you depending on how many people you're having)
Maple Bacon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea (or rock) Salt & Pepper

•pre-heat oven to broil.
•cut the asparagus so you have about 3-4" left from the tips
•put asparagus in mixing bowl and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Make sure every spear is coated.
•take 3-4 pieces (depending on size)of asparagus spears and wrap it in bacon. repeat till all asparagus are gone
•place bacon-wrapped asparagus in a roasting/broiling tray and broil for 10-15 mins. Ovens vary so check at about 10 mins and see how the bacon is cooking, once its golden take it out and let cool then transfer to a serving plate.

*You can use whatever kind of bacon you like. I use maple bacon because the maple flavor in the bacon gives the entire thing a nice variety in taste.

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Ok, now let's move on to the main star of this entry! This is the recipe that Philly emailed me.

Creamy Tomato-Basil Pasta with Chicken

Prep: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

3 cups penne pasta, uncooked (I used whole wheat penne pasta for a healthy alternative)
¼ cup KRAFT sun-dried tomato dressing, divided (you can find this in the salad dressing aisle)
4 small boneless skinless Chicken Breasts
1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
½ tsp. each garlic powder & black pepper
4 oz (1/2 package) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, cubed (which is 1/3 less fat than regular cream cheese)
2 cups grape tomatoes
½ cup KRAFT shredded parmesan cheese
8 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

•Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, cover. Cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until done (165ยบ F). Remove chicken from skillet, cover to keep warm. Carefully wipe out skillet with paper towel.

•Add remaining dressing, broth, and seasonings to skillet; cook 3 to 4 min. or until heated through. Add Neufchatel; cook and stir 2 to 3 min. or until Neufchatel is melted. Stir in tomatoes, cook 3 min.

•Drain pasta. Add to ingredients in skillet with Parmesan and basil, mix well. Serve topped with chicken.

*This dish was pretty easy to make. Although, I would recommend marinating the chicken in the sun-dried tomato dressing over night or at least for a few hours so that it can really soak up the flavor. I did as directed and the chicken was alright but it could have been more flavorful had I marinated it. Next time I make this dish again I would also use sun-dried tomatoes as opposed to grape tomatoes, again for additional flavor/taste. Overall, the dish was tasty and hearty. Even someone who isn't all too familiar in the kitchen can surely make this dish :)

Creamy Tomato-Basil Pasta with Chicken

Thank you to @LoveMyPhilly for giving me the opportunity to try this recipe and also for my goodies! That was very awesome of you (and swift too!)

A cupcake entry will be following this post. I promise! Really, I do!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Here Fishy, fishy!

I love cupcakes, really love em but as much as I wish I could live off of just cupcakes alone (though some of you would probably disagree with my statement lol)I can't. Before going live with this blog I had told a few friends about it and that I would be sharing recipes too. I was cooking way before I was baking and I love doing both almost equally.

So, back to the topic. Fish.

Fish...pretty lil things, what's the connection? I was recently having a conversation with my neighbor, Arnie (who is a local personal trainer) in regards to eating healthy. Most people think that eating healthy equals having to eat bland tasting, boring looking foods. I beg to differ! We talked about fish and it inspired me to make something and prove the cynics wrong. Mind you, I haven't really cooked fish in a while just because I don't like the smell but when I made this dish my apartment did NOT smell like fish, it smelled delicious!

I found the recipe here. I altered it a bit though (like I usually do with all recipes I find)

6 5-ounce po striped bass, halibut or any flaky white fish ( I used about 1/2 lb. of cod that I cut into 4 pieces)

6 1/4-inch-t peeled fresh ginger (I just eyeballed the peeled ginger and put the biggest fish on the thickest/biggest fish)

1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger i love ginger so I used just a little bit more.

1/4 cup chopped garlic

1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 tablespoon grapeseed oil, or canola oil

2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

2-3 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

*my addition*
1 Tbsp of Honey
1/2 Tbsp of sugar

Step 1
To prepare fish: Bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a boil in a pot large enough to hold a two-tier bamboo steamer. (If you don’t have a steamer, improvise by setting mugs upside down in a large pot and resting a large heatproof plate on top.) Put a heatproof plate in each of the steamer baskets. Place 3 portions of fish on each plate with a slice of fresh ginger on top. Stack the baskets, cover and set over the boiling water. Steam the fish for 7 minutes per inch of thickness.

Step 2
To prepare sauce: Meanwhile, combine minced ginger, garlic and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Heat grapeseed (or canola) oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ginger mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add sesame oil; allow the mixture to get hot. Add soy sauce (be careful, it will splatter a bit) and sugar and honey and cook for 1 minute more or till sugar is dissolved.

Step 3
Transfer the fish to a deep platter. Discard the ginger slices. Pour the sauce over the fish and garnish with scallions.

Voila! Easy Peasy! I'm sure that you would want something else to go with this simple but oh so flavorful dish, am I right? I served mine with some jasmine rice (brown rice would be ok too but I love the flavor and smell of jasmine rice and it really accentuates the flavors of the fish) and steamed stir-fry vegetables seasoned with just a dash of salt and pepper.

The "pretty" part is in the presentation :) Go ahead and dig in!

Post Holidaze

I know that the holidays are over but I can't resist posting my holiday themed cuppy creation. The inspiration came about whilst I was drinking some delicious coffee with amaretto flavored creamer and a splash of chambord. If you've never tried chambord on your coffee, you have no idea what you're missing! Seriously, it's delicious. (I wouldn't lie to you... not always ;))

I scoured the interwebz to find a chocolate chambord cake recipe. I found one, I read it and had a bad feeling about it but I tried it was a FAIL of epic proportions! So I did some major tweaking, the cake tasted better but I had craters instead of cupcakes. What do I mean by craters? The batter spread out and was sunken in the middle hence craters. But HEY it tasted better! I jsut had to adjust the baking soda/powder proportions and baking temperature. Finally, third time is a charm :) and my Chocolate Chambord Cupcakes was a reality! I topped this tasty, moist chocolate-y-chambord-y cake with an Amaretto Chambord Swiss meringue butter cream, a mini candy cane and a sprinkling of Christmas colored sugar crystals for a dash of pretty.

May I present Chocolate Chambord Cupcakes!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hello :) I figured I'd post a real quick hi before I edit some pictures that would be making it's way out here shortly.

I wanted to start this blog so I can share my love for cupcakes, baking and cooking, shoes and other pretty lil things. I'm always either making or trying new recipes and my guinea pig is my son, Jordan who is just a few months shy of 2 years old.

With that said, I will be back later and will be posting a cupcake recipe as well as a dinner recipe.