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I <3 Brownies

17 Feb

Ah, Valentine’s Day, that over-commercialized, dreaded-by-many, possibly-sappy, day of love and cupid and hearts…lots and lots of hearts. But I’ve never been one to complain, especially if there’s chocolate involved : ) Last year, I made truffles (quite successfully, though I spent entirely too much time trying to perfect and prettify them). This year, I was short on time yet still wanted to make something cute and valentine-sy, so on a whim, I grabbed what I had in the cupboard – brownie mix and sprinkles. There was also a block of cream cheese in the fridge (I usually keep some on hand) – perfect for cream cheese frosting.

In less than an hour, the apartment was filled with delicious smells, and as I waited for the brownies to cool, I whipped up a batch of frosting. Taking a cookie cutter to the brownies, I formed heart shapes, then frosted each and shook some mini heart sprinkles on top. Lastly, I placed the finished brownies into some plastic bento box containers so they could be displayed like showpieces.

The result was better than I had imagined. The final thing left to do was grab a piece of extra brownie, spread some frosting on it, and *om nom nom nom* cookie monster style : P

Grindz (part II)

2 Feb

Ohhh yum. I just made a batch of chicken curry udon for the first time and was reminded again of my enduring love for Japanese curry. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures to show for this delicious meal, but my stomach can testify that it was indeed nom nom nom : )

To make up for the absence of curry photos, I’m posting some drool-worthy images that I’ve been meaning to upload for awhile; these were from my trip home during Christmas.

The first few are from my family’s new year’s day lunch. Hamachi (yellowtail) and Maguro (tuna) sashimi:

Onaga (red snapper):

Garlic shrimp:

Okay this one is a tribute to fans of natto, the stinky, sticky fermented beans that you either love or hate (I side with the latter). My friends love this stuff, and this is just one iteration of these beans in curry:

Spam and egg sushi (now this I find appetizing, mmm mmm):

And last but not least, my favorite shave ice from Ice Garden (#16 with oatmeal – tapioca + mochi balls + chocolate syrup)! Sounds gross but it’s soooo good; you just need to try it:

Ghost Lollies

1 Nov

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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I had ambitious plans to make festive cake pops for All Hallow’s Eve but majorly failed, so instead I put together some ghost lollies. I first made these little guys back in elementary school, and they are a cinch to assemble. All you need are lollipops (I used Tootsie Pops for these), tissue (one per ghost), some ribbon or tape, and a marker to make the face. Center and wrap a tissue over the top of the lollipop, then tape or tie a ribbon just below the head. Using a marker, draw eyes and a mouth. And that’s it – something cute, yet simple and festive!

Lastly, here are some cupcakes I helped frost and decorate the other night; had fun with these : )

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Roasted Tomato Soup

16 Oct

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A visit to a local farmer’s market today inspired me to make a homemade tomato soup. Originally hoping to find chanterelles or porcini mushrooms (sadly there were none to be found), I instead walked away with a handful of ripe grape tomatoes, which I proceeded to roast for added depth of flavor.

I don’t really follow recipes unless I’m baking, so for this dish I improvised. I chopped the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, tossed them in a bowl of sliced onions and garlic, then seasoned with olive oil, freshly cracked pepper, salt, and basil. At the last minute I threw in some sliced carrots, then laid everything out on a baking sheet and roasted at 400 degrees for about half an hour. Delicious smells ensued.

Melting some butter in a pot, I threw in chopped garlic, then added the roasted tomato mixture, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, and a dash of sugar. After simmering for a bit, I poured everything into a blender and pureed the soup until it was just the right texture – not too smooth and not too chunky, but somewhere in between.

The final result was quite flavorful, and I accompanied the soup with one of its pals, the good ‘ole grilled cheese sandwich…nom nom nom indeed. I think next time I want to try adding some red bell pepper for another dimension of flavor, but for now I’m in tomato soup bliss : )

Thumbprint Minis

13 Oct

Mmm, peanut butter and chocolate…

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Bored and on bedrest this past weekend, I was inspired to bake after reading through some food blogs to help pass the time. I came across this recipe (from Elissa of 17andbaking.com), which I’d like to re-title “PB+Chocolate Thumbprint Minis” if I may (they sound cuter that way, and they reminded me of the thumbprint cookies my roomie made during Christmas). I know that some people might be turned off by the labor-intensity of the recipe, as the cookies are so tiny that many batches (we’re talking roughly 15-DOZEN) are required. But if you know me, I am a patient baker, and will willingly spend hours frosting cupcakes or making sure all the cookies are round – you can call it perfectionism, but I’ll just say it’s giving attention to detail ; ) Anyways, feeling well-rested, much-recuperated, and up for a challenge, I went ahead and baked these cookies this afternoon (I do admit though, that as much as I am patient, I had to stop a little after midway through and freeze the remaining dough for another day, as there was so much dough!).

Ingredients:

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Granulated sugar for rolling
Chocolate chips (I used semisweet and white)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat peanut butter and shortening until well mixed, then beat in the two sugars until light. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together, then add in 3 batches to the peanut butter mixture, beating well between additions.

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Using a 1/4 tsp, roll dough into 1/2 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on ungreased baking sheets. [I used parchment paper]

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Bake 5-6 minutes and remove from oven. Immediately press a chocolate chip into the center of each cookie. Let cookies cool a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here’s another shot of the finished cookies; such a cute little family : ) And btw, these tasted great! They are also hard to stop eating…

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Lastly, here’s a picture of my friend, Domo, eyeing the fresh batch…

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