Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Baker's September Challege: Sugar Rush..

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

I love me some sugar cookies. I love the concept of a cookie on a stick. :)

I do live near the city of Berkeley so I had try a bit of tye dye.

From the awesome band The Beetles. All you need is.....

Yes, all you do need is love. As I found out the dog ate the cookies while I was away at work. They were sitting on the counter far from the edge. I guess the smell of a sugar cookie was too hard to resist. He had to swipe the off the counter. I had a weird suspicion something was up when I walked through the door and he was running around the sofa like a speed demon. After further investigation, I find some crumbs and the lollipop sticks upstairs. Silly Dog. I guess it was punishment for making him wear this the night before.

He's a banana split for Halloween. Look! Doesn't he look excited?? Ha ha ha.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Food Preservation

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Question: What do you do with a garden full of tomatoes? Give up?? You preserve them! I decided to take a stab of freezing roasted tomatoes.

Here is my lovely photo of the tomatoes fresh out of the oven.

Bagged and ready for another day. Also here are a few of the tomatoes from the garden. With the wonky weather here in California. The tomatoes are late coming in.

Of course, I gotta leave you with a photo of the yummy food in action. Toasted bread with cheese, topped with a roasted tomato and homemade pesto. I made an abundance of pesto sauce. I threw them in an ice cube tray and froze them for later. Another food preservation win!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Daring Cooks: Pierogies

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

This month's challenge, I decided to put a bit of my own twist on this challenge. Instead of the traditional perogi filled with cheese, potatoes, and bacon. I used ingredients from my garden.

Photo on the left: Zucchini and with ground turkey. Photo on the right: Chinese green chives with baked tofu.

I guess you can called these Chinese pierogies. These were quite tasty. Husband was quite thrilled with them too. I made so many, I have a freezer full of them now. Perfect for days when I don't feel like cooking.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daring Baker's Challege: Swiss swirl ice cream cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

2 years ago I married to love of my life. We've been together for a total of 10 years, but finally decided to make it official. We did everything backwards. We bought the house, got two furry babies then decided to get married. works for us.

To celebrate, I made us a special dinner. We did a round 2 on the daring cooks nut butter challenge (see previous post). And for dessert, I wowed my husband with this.

Chocolate swirl cake, homemade rocky road ice cream, chocolate fudge finished off with some vanilla ice cream. If you didn't just gain 10 pounds from reading this, you are just lucky. Once this was put together and finishing in the freezer, I was excited to dream up the different flavors that I could come up with. I'm thinking mango next.

My husband said the funniest thing, "With a meal like this, can everyday be our anniversary?" Aww..I love this guy. He's happy to eat whatever I make most of the time and I get free tech support. I am the luckiest girl alive. :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daring Cooks Nut Butter Challenge

I know it has been so long since I have blogged. May was a super busy month with my friend's wedding. June has been crazy with family functions and work. However, I did get a bit of a breather to partake in this month's challenge.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

One word describes this challenge...YUM! I heart nut butters and have made my own nut butters before. I decided to make a cashew nut butter and make a asian noodle dish.

I have never seen my husband so excited about the result of this challenge. I think he ate 3 servings. He even asked if we could have it the follow day. This is definately a recipe that will be in our rotation. It was so simple to make and put together. :)
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wedding Cupcakes: Itta + Javier = LOVE

Last weekend, I had the honor of making my co-workers' wedding cupcakes. It has been a dream of mine to make wedding cupcakes. When I was planning my own wedding, I was very adamant about making my own. It was not until my wonderful bridal party and my photographer who brought me down to reality. With all the craziness the week of the wedding, there would not have been any time.

Alas, the dream of making my own wedding cupcakes were put away for another time. Until Itta got engaged. The first thing she said to me was, "So you're making my cake right?" My reply, "Sure. Uh huh." Thinking that we were just having a chat. Nope. She ment it. So began the process of designing, creating, planning, delivery, and setup of these wonderful cupcakes.

I have to put this photo in. This is the VP of Operations of the company. All night I sat by this man who was anxiously waiting for the cupcakes. We kept telling him, that if he was a good boy, his patience would be rewarded. As you can see, he got his cupcakes.

I surprised Itta's husband Javier with a groom's cake. As a wedding gift, Javier restored a Volkswagen bug. I thought it would be cute to make a car cake that looked similar to his restored car. :)

To Itta and Javier! Congrats on your nuptials. You two are are the most generous and sweetest couple that I have ever met.

Daring Baker's Challenge : PIECE MONTÉE

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

I've made cream puffs before, but was never able to achieve the crispy outside. The egg wash definitely made the difference. The photo is actually my second attempt at creating the tower. I was able to successfully make a tower without a cone reinforcement. Please with the result, I quickly ran to get the camera for the money shot.

Husband says, "Hey honey. What happened here?" When I heard that, I knew the tower had collapsed. So if you squint, you can tell I used a small tin cup to hold my croquembouche together.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Daring Bakers: Traditonal British Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

What is suet? Well my friends, suet is essentially animal fat/lard used to make flaky crusts. The idea of suet for a baking challenge turned me off. Thankfully, Esther did offer us a vegetarian and vegan option. Lucky for me, the vegan option required no special ingredients. Plus I had two ripe bananas that needed some loving.

I think I should have steamed the cake longer. According to instructions, I needed to steam the cake for 40-60 mins. I did 60, but I think it could have been longer. While the outside was nice and firm, the inside was still gooey. Like a molten lava cake. My husband though it was strange, but quite yummy. Me? It was chocolaty, definitely hit the spot. I am definitely going to try this again. I really want it to come out more cake like.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Brunswick Stew

Blog Checking Lines- The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Dear Mother Nature,

I am not too sure if you are aware, but according to the calendar we are in the spring season. I was hoping you were going to grace us with some birds chirping, warm sunshine a maybe a light breeze. I am very upset with you mother nature.

Apparently, you did not get the memo that it is spring because we are still getting random downpours and weather temperatures in the 40s. Those two items alone are is California girl's worse nightmare. How do you expect us to look cute?

That's okay Mother Nature, I forgive you. You know why? Because the cooking challenge was a yummy brunswick stew. Loaded with deliciousness.

So if you get this message, please please please help a sista out and enough with this weather. Bring on the warm weather!



Thank goodness for this stew! With the cold temperatures, this stew was great dish to have to keep me warm and happy. It was so simple to make too. I threw everything in a crock pot. I think I am in love with my crock pot. Throw things in the pot, set it and come back to it later. Viola! Dinner is on the table. I was excited to use up leftover corn and ham from Easter dinner for this dish.

I think the hubby enjoyed the dish since he went for two bowls of it. For me, it was so hearty, that one satisfying bowl did the trick.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mushroom Risotto....

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

My first out of body experience with risotto was at Gary Danko for my birthday. Lobster risotto. It was so cream and rich. I felt like I was in heaven. For this challenge, there is two required componets.

One to make homemade chicken stock. I used chick legs, carrots, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and onions to make the stock.

Two to use the base risotto. Base risotto consist of olive oil, onions, stock, and rice. Instead of using arborio rice, I used brown medium grain rice instead. In regards to flavor, we could use anything we like. I decided to make a mushroom risotto with portobello and white mushrooms.

Don't you wish you and smello and tasto vision?

This cooking challenge was great! It was great to pair this with the daring cooks challenge of tiramisu. I think the italian mommas out there would be proud of my concoction.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tiramisu has layers...

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. Has anyone see Shrek? I love donkey. Who doesn't right? Does anyone remember this dialog? For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think. "Example?" (donkey) "Example. OK, er, ogres are like... onions! " (Shrek) "They stink?" (donkey) "Yes. No! [...] Onions have layers! Ogres have layers. D'you get it? We both have layers!" (Shrek) "Oh, you both have layers. You know not everybody like onions! Eh, cakes! Everybody loves cakes! Cakes have layers!" (donkey) "I don't care what everyone likes! Ogres are not like cakes." (Shrek) Every time I begin to make a cake or a layered dessert, I think of that dialog.

So this month's challenge was to build a tiramisu. Not just build it, but to make each of the components that go into this dessert. There are three main componets:

First you need your ladyfingers/Savoiardi biscuits. Super easy to make. Very tasty. A little too tasty that I had to make a second batch. I ate one too many with the first batch that I didn't have enough to make the tiramisu. :)

Second, you need your tiramisu filling (zabaglione,vanilla pastry cream, mascarpone cheese )
I was all on top of photo taking and I took a picture of the zabaglione cream, but totally forgot the vanilla pastry cream and mascarpone cheese. It was about 10pm when I finished this and I was pooped. Both the zabaglione and vanilla pastry cream were a cinch to make. The mascarpone cheese I was a bit worried. My cheese seemed a bit watery. Luckily, I read online that it would firm up once it is chilled. I also added mini chocolate chips to my filling to give it bit of a party in the mouth when you bite into it.

Third, you need a espresso for dipping your ladyfingers and cocoa powder to finish the cake off.

First layer down.
And presto! Wait a second...a piece is missing??

Oh there it is!

I was too anxious to wait a few hours to eat. That is why the tiramisu is a bit floppy. What a fun and tasty challenge. I hope my co-workers will enjoy this treat. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Don't mess with Mezze

The 2010 February Daring COOKs challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

My husband and I loves anything carbs. So when this month's DB challenge called for pita bread. I was delighted to take on this challenge.

Here is the dough waiting to be flattened. Instead of regular salt, I used garlic salt instead. Yum!

Instead of the oven, to cook these babies in. I used my trusty pan. They puffed up just right.

Accompany the pita bread with some homemade hummas and olives. What a tasty bite before the big meal. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Going Gluten Free On Ya!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

I was excited to see that Lauren was the host of the January challenge as I have been researching on gluten/wheat free recipes. Lauren has celiac's disease. Celiac disease is when the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

Doing research about celiac disease and cooking gluten/wheat free has definitely opened my mind and I sympathize with anyone who has a food allergy.Being conscience about what you eat, reading labels, and asking the restaurant on how the food is made to make sure you can consume it.
I was excited to see that this month's challenge was gluten free graham crackers and nanaimo bars. Nanaimo bars. What's a nanaimo bar? The Nanaimo bar is a dessert of Canadian origin popular across North America. A type of chocolate no-bake square, it is named after the West-Coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Here is my attempt at gluten free graham crackers. One thing I learned is that baking gluten free is a science. Trying to get a bunch of different flours mixed together to produce what you what is a challenge. I was expecting my dough to be denser, but my dough was really sticky. I was so worried that it wouldn't bake. In the end, it did come out. It was pretty delicious!

Take a look at those fudgy bars! I didn't get an opportunity to taste them, but my whole office was very excited to have a sugary treat for the Monday blues. People were asking for them again.

Thanks Lauren for the wonderful baking challenge!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Did the chicken cross the road?

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

Yes, I know the cooking challenge is suppose to be pork satay, but I didn't have any pork available. So I opted for chicken and beef. I made this dish about three weeks ago and let me tell you, the weather was yucky. 30 degrees and taking the dog out for a walk required the dog to wear a sweater. I know I know, I am a wussy Californian who whines when its 50 degrees. Where in other parts of the world there's many inches of snow. I can't help it, I am familar with constant 60 degree weather. In California, there are no 4 seasons.

So with 30 degree weather, there was no way I was taking these satay buddies to the outdoor bbq grill. So I found the next best thing. Don't laugh. I pulled this out...

Isn't she a beaut? This Foreman grill goes back to my college days. My trusty friend whose never met a burger patty she couldn't handle.

I wish my blog was a scratch and sniff. At least in this photo, you can see the meat cooking. Yum!

Chicken on the left and beef to your right. Wipe that drool off your face now.
A little something for you no carb folks. Satay chicken lettuce wrap with cucumbers and onions.

Of course, I can't leave you without a picture of satay accompanied with brown rice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Billy!

My old ball and chain had a birthday this month. He turned the big 3-0. We celebrated the big day with a evening with friends, bowling, food, beer, and of course birthday cake. Not just any birthday cake.

Can you guess what it is? Give up? It's a piece of steak. Tee hee...a beefcake. LOL. Wait! Doesn't it remind you of something else?

It's the Duplo (lego) character. Minus the ears. :)

Happy birthday husband! I hope you enjoyed your special day!