Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The start of a healthy (er...uh ish..uh hopefully) blog!

Recently I've stumbled upon (no, not using stumble upon, though) many blogs written by other food loving teenagers. The surprising thing was that these blogs not only focused on food, but also healthy food and exercise. I know this is not unusual, but the funny thing was that I had a lot in common with these health-conscious-food-loving-teenage-bloggers. Not only do I love food, but also good-for-you (aka healthy) food and exercise. I just thought no one would want to see or hear about these other interests. But now, after reading some very intriguing blogs, I've realized my blog doesn't have to always be about buttery, flaky, baked goods, it can have a balance of exercise, wholesome food, and those sweet indulgences everybody needs. So while I'm not going to stop posting my sinfully delicious baked goods, I'm going to start posting about the other foods I enjoy, such as edamame salads, whole grain breads, or that funny story about yesterday's run.

I thought I'd start with some vegan chocolate chip cookies. I know, they're not much healthier than normal cookies, but I've got to start somewhere, right? It's all about baby steps, and actually, if you substitute applesauce for the oil and whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose, then you've got a delicious cookie with not too much fat and a little more fiber. Don't worry, if you're looking for super healthy nutrient packed foods I'll try to post about those too. Oh, and definitely don't worry about a shortage of buttery baked goods. I'll still post those too! :)

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Vegan Cookies Take Over the World
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup oil (or applesauce)
1/4 cup nondairy milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup almond meal (optional-I had it in my pantry, but it gave the cookies an interesting look..)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
2. Combine sugars, oil, milk, and cornstarch mixing well for 2 minutes until mixture resembles caramel (I was surprised, it actually does). Stir in vanilla
3. Add 1 cup flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the rest of the flour. Fold in chocolate chips and almond meal
4. Roll in to balls then flatten slightly. Bake for 8 minutes until browned on the edges.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baklava for Daring Bakers

Agh! I hate it when you work so hard to roll out thin layers of dough, only to discover after stacking and cutting the dough that you didn't flour inbetween and as a result now have a huge mass of dough. Ugh. Sorry about my little rant, it'll all make sense. Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

So I made the dough, waited, then begin rolling it out. Rolling it out took about 30-40 minutes, but in the end took about an hour fifteen minutes because of my stupid mistake of not flouring enough. If you make this, make sure to flour well inbetween the stacked layers to make peeling apart the layers after cutting much, much easier. Instead of having uber thin layers of phyllo dough, my layers were on the thicker side and not as flaky. I also used pecans for the nuts. My mom said it tasted more like a cinnamon roll in layers.

Sorry about the awful pictures. Yellow kitchen lighting :( It was late by the time the baklava, uh cinnamon layered bar finished baking and the syrup cooled. However, I still had fun with the challenge!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What to do with yogurt cheese?

Remember that post about making your own yogurt? Well my dad likes to experiment with using different types of "starter" yogurts. So far, we've tried Stonyfield, Fage, and Brown Cow. Sometimes when the store doesn't carry the plain version, we have to buy the fruit one and only use the yogurt at the top. I think it may have been with the brown cow brand...anyways, we couldn't find the plain and used some sort of fruity yogurt. I think it was apricot. Usually the final yogurt does not take on the flavor, but for some strange reason this batch did. It was really weird. My favorite is still the stonyfield plain because it results in a tangy, slightly less thick yogurt. The brown cow yields a much more creamy yogurt that is slightly thicker than the stonyfield, but still not like the commercial yogurts (which I bet they strain). The Fage yogurt was my least favorite (sorry to all the greek yogurt lovers) because the yogurt was not only super watery, but also lacking that tangy flavor I love so much.  Rather than chucking the "bad" yogurt, I instead strained the batch and made...Yogurt Cheese!

Yogurt is a low fat alternative to cream cheese and sour cream. I used it to create this Coffee Cake.
Sorry for the bad pictures, I just couldn't wait to eat it!

Coffee Cake
Adapted from here
* I substituted yogurt cheese for the sour cream

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Souffle...gah it's sour! O.o

Oh no, it's going to deflate! This is my first attempt at making a souffle, and I have to say, I'm pretty happy. I followed Almost Bourdain's Souffle Recipe, but I substituted lemon juice for all of the lime and orange juice. (oops!, but more on that later) Many of the comments said their souffles turned out fantastic, and the recipe seemed pretty straightforward, so I was pretty excited. After watching countless cartoon shows where any movement or jingling of the pan caused the souffle to fall, I could not resist standing in front of the oven the entire baking time. Watching the souffle rise was pretty cool. At first I thought I was going to end up with lopsided souffles, but everything worked out. Oh, and the other thing, fill the bowls to the max! Some of my souffles didn't rise over the top because it was just too low.

So...now onto my substitution of lemon juice for the other two juices. Well, let's just say I won't be trying that again, especially if I don't want my mouth to pucker and my eyes to squint shut. It was so sorry I felt that tingly sensation in the back of my jaw, even after I had stopped eating!

Recipe from here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More pictures...but this time a recipe too

I've been working on my photos! But I thought maybe I'd include a recipe too (which is at the bottom)

Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Cookie
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 cups rolled oats

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F  and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
2. In a bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs.
3. In a separate bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir into butter mixture.
4. Stir in oats, walnuts, raisins.
5. Use a two inch ice cream scoop to place mounds of dough on parchment paper.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's Up With This Weather? And my epiphany

Hey everyone! Have you all been enjoying your summer? Or, if you live in Australia, have you been enjoying your winter? Man, the weather here has been weird. Everyday it rains, but it's still sunny outside. For example, today I was walking to school, the sun was shinning and my face felt like it was burning, then BAM! er, i mean SWISH, all of a sudden this huge sheet of rain just starts to fall, but it's still sunny! At least the rain helps plants grow, like my mom's tomatoes.

I was reading Katie's blog, and she recently wrote a post about what makes a successful blog. As I was reading, I realized I should do what I want on my blog, what I like to do, what I like to eat, not what I think other people want me to. So, I've decided to take more pictures and write less. I know I'm writing a lot now, but I've realized I don't really enjoy writing too much. However, if I only had a photo blog that'd be pretty boring cause my pictures aren't that great either.  I've decided to work on that. My dad lent me his book on photography for the camera we have (rebel T2i), so I've been taking photos of the foliage around my house. I'm still getting the hang of it, so my pictures aren't the greatest, but I'm trying!

Some of my photography attempts...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nature's Path

What's your second favorite meal? Why did I ask second? Well we all know everyone would choose dessert, but anyways, my second favorite meal would have to be breakfast. Waffles, french toast, and cereal. Yum, they're almost as tasty as desserts, but you can eat them right when you wake up (and pretty much anytime of the day). My fav breakfast food has to be cereal. I could eat it any time of the day! So when I received a box from Nature's Path, I was so excited!

I opened the box and found to my great delight: Blueberry Cinnamon Optimum Cereal, Lotta Apricot Granola Bars, and Pumpkin Granola Cereal!

I was at first skeptical of the optimum cereal because it just looked too healthy to actually taste good. Do you see those twig looking things? Last time I had those they were in some cereal and called fiber twigs. Does that not scream healthiness to you? However, once I tried the cereal I was hooked. Slightly sweet, nutty, and cinnamon-y. Not at all what I would expect. My dad actually announced he would be buying some more!

I have yet to try the granola bar and granola, but I'm sure I will love it!

* Disclaimer: Nature's Path provided me with free samples to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

bacon ccc cookies

Every guy loves bacon, so why not treat yours to some bacon chocolate chip cookies? It's the best of both worlds. Sorry, I just had to say..er write that. Anyways, whenever my mom makes bacon we always have a ton of bacon fat leftover. Once I burned it (it burned for over an hour! - which was a lot of fun), this time I refrigerated it just to see what would happen. The next day, the fat had solidified and had the consistency of butter. We also had leftover bacon...so what did I do with leftover bacon and bacon fat the consistency of butter? Make bacon cookies using bacon fat instead of butter! It may not be the healthiest, but who would say no to bacon and chocolate in cookie form?  My parents said they couldn't taste the bacon too much (even though I used bacon fat O.O ) unless they chewed on the actual pieces of bacon.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 cups bacon fat strained, chilled (or butter)
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
A dozen strips bacon, crumbled

1. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
2. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the bacon fat and sugars together until very light and fluff for about 5 minutes. Then, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir the chopped chocolate and bacon into the dough.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop large rounds of dough onto a baking sheet, and bake them until golden brown but still soft for 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chocolate Donuts

Whenever I visit the east coast, I always visit a dunkin donuts with my grandma. (Their glazed original is my favorite, btw.) Even though I had my fill of donuts last week, this morning I woke up craving a donut. Sadly, there are no donut shops on the island :( , so what did I do? Make my own, of course. However, I'm a little scared of cooking with hot oil (I have bad experiences cooking bacon...but that's a different story) so instead I pulled out my mom's old donut maker. When I mean old, I mean really old. Like ancient. I found it while digging through my grandma's basement :) Anyways, if you are looking for a donut maker you can buy one here.

These donuts are quite tasty even though they are not fried. Moist and chocolate-y. For the chocolate glaze I merely mixed together cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and water. I then sprinkled the tops with sprinkles. Oh, and a tip is to wait a couple seconds after putting on the glaze to use the sprinkles. If put on too soon, the sprinkles sink in to the glaze. If I waited too long, the sprinkles didn't stick.

Chocolate Donuts
from here
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBs baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Stir dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Add egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla. Using a mixer on medium speed, blend until smooth.
  2. Fill each cooking reservoir with about 2 tablespoons of batter.
  3. Bake about 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into donut comes out clean.
  4. Glaze or coat with powdered sugar, as desired.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Bouchon Bakery, Financier Patisserie, Minamoto Kitchoan, and La Maison Du Chocolat

    My mom and I stayed at a very convenient boutique hotel near Rockerfeller Center. This meant we were not only close to the subway, but also Bouchon Bakery and Financier Patisserie. 

    Convenient? Check.

    Delicious? Check.

    For the two mornings we were there, I went out to each bakery to buy breakfast (on different days, of course). The first day I felt unusually hungry and ended up ordering a craquelin, chocolate croissant, and raspberry almond croissant. Even though it was only the two of us, we ended up eating everything. Actually, it was more like I ate two pastries and my mom ate one, but that's okay they were worth it because they were absolutely delicious! My mom enjoyed the craquelin because of the (candied?) oranges and tons of orange zest. I loved the sugar on top (of course!). I loved the chocolate they put in the croissant. It was dark, rich, and paired well with the buttery and flaky croissant. The raspberry almond was interesting. I only picked it because it looked good with the sliced almonds on top and dusting of powdered sugar, but it turned out to be a great choice. Like the chocolate croissant, the croissant was flaky and buttery, but the filling was what set it apart. The combination of raspberry jam and almond frangipane was a wonderful combination. I didn't try their macarons this time, but I did have one before in Vegas (which was tasty!).

    The next day I didn't fell like such a heavy breakfast (I actually felt a little buttered out-my new word for when one feels tired of eating buttery foods like pastries.)  Gasp, I know! Me not wanting sweets? What is happening?! Anyways, I ordered a pistachio biscotti and a diplomat. I know what you're thinking, you ordered a diplomat? What the heck is that? The place had some long explanation about what it is, but basically it's like a bread pudding in a tart shell with an apricot glaze. It tasted creamy and bread-y like a bread pudding, but I think I just wasn't in the mood for such a heavy breakfast item because I didn't really enjoy it. The pistachio biscotti wasn't as heavy, but it still wasn't as light as a piece of fruit, which I was probably craving at the time. The biscotti had a nice flavor and they used the perfect amount of spices. My mom enjoyed dipping it in her free(!) coffee (nope sorry, it wasn't from the Patisserie, but they do give you a mini financier when you order a coffee or something. The hotel has this coffee machine in the computer area. Yea, most people would probably not be amazed by it, but I got to use the machine so I thought it was pretty cool). I didn't try one of their macarons, but now I wish I had cause they looked yummy!

    You know what else was near the hotel? Minamoto Kitchoan and La Maison Du Chocolat. Are you wondering what hotel I was staying at? The Jewel! BTW, they had some pretty cool water machines! Now back to the food. Sorry for that odd transition. Anyways, Minamoto Kitchoan sells Japanese wagashi or sweets. They import them from Japan so they're a tad expensive, but taste like the ones I remember from Japan! Ah, I wish I could go back. *sigh*. La Maison Du Chocolate has some amazing chocolates. We only ordered two since we had dinner reservations, but boy, is their chocolate decadent!