Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good food surrounds me

I live in such an amazing neighborhood surrounded by a good number of restaurants and bakeries. Macarons, cupcakes, or even bread is just a block away! I LOVE bread, or anything filled with carbs for that matter.

I'm not really a fan of Cheeseboard pizza, but their bread and baked goodies are seriously the bomb. Fresh muffins and even scones make a great breakfast treat. My favorite is definitely the brioche knot. So good I wanna go get one right now.

Monday, April 26, 2010

C Is For Cookie

As much as I love making and eating homemade cookies from scratch, sometimes I just want a freshly baked cookie without all the hassle of making the dough. Yeah, I know cookie dough isn't that difficult to make, but as a college student pressed for time, shortcuts just work better. Oh, and sometimes I'm just too lazy to lug out all the baking supplies. That's why our fridge is stocked with a tub of packaged cookie dough! That's my usual go-to quick cookie fix.

We had a box of chocolate cake mix in the pantry and decided to try something new this past weekend: semi-homemade cookies! These turned out pretty good:

Chunky Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies
(adapted from Duncan Hines cake mix box)

1 package dark fudge cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350°
2) Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips
3) Add chocolate chips and mix lightly until distributed
4) Drop tablespoon sized (or larger, we actually made huge cookies) on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet
5) Bake for 12 minutes

Easy, semi-homemade cookies.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

California Here We Come

It was Cal Day today! I wish I took more photos, but I was a bit busy tabling.

Monday, April 12, 2010

To Quell Nerves

Two years ago, I made a long pro-con list in hopes that doing so would help me finally deciding where to go for college. I wrote, I thought, I contemplated. I waited until the last possible day to decide and confirm. I regretted my decision for months. It was probably not until the second month after school started that I stopped wondering "What if I had gone to that school!?" Cal has grown on me.

Two Saturdays ago, I met and mingled with a number of high school seniors who were offered admissions to Cal. I could see my 17-year-old, high school senior self in so many of them. Amidst the obvious excitement, I could see the fear in their faces--the sheer uncertainty and confusion. Many expressed that they were feeling quite overwhelmed and stressed as I had felt, from having to make such an important life decision. This school or that school? I offered my best advice and hopefully that helped to calm some nerves.

It really dawned on me through writing this post that it really has been a long two years already. In retrospect and as cliche as it is, time flies. Anyway, congrats to the new Cal admits, the class of 2014!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

And When Life Gives You More Strawberries

Make strawberry shortcake.

All I can say is sweetened strawberries are amazing and homemade whipped cream is way better than that nasty stuff in cans.

Strawberry Shortcakes
Adapted from Everyday Food "Great Food Fast" Cookbook

For biscuits:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°. In food processor combine flour, butter, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and pulsate until mixture moistens.
Turn dough onto floured surface and pat into a 4x8 inch rectangle. Cut into 8 squares, transfer onto baking sheet and sprinkle remaining tbsp of sugar on top of biscuits. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let cool.

For sweetened strawberries:
1 1/2 lb strawberries
1/4 cup sugar

Quarter strawberries and toss in bowl with sugar. Let stand until syrupy. Toss occasionally.

For whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tbsp sugar (to taste)

Beat cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle sugar over cream and beat until soft peaks return.

To serve, slice biscuit "hamburger style," into two and layer with strawberries and whipped cream. Delicious !

Saturday, April 3, 2010

When Life Gives You Strawberries...

You should make strawberry cupcakes! We went to Costco a few days ago and picked up a four pound thing of strawberries. I froze a pound or so just so we'd have some on hand when the heat comes around and we want to make smoothies. It's been a few days and I noticed that we weren't eating the three pound of strawberries left in the fridge. They were getting super ripe and some were even bruising, so I decided to look up a few strawberry as ingredient recipes and put these strawberries to good use while they were still edible.

The recipe I used is from Sprinkles Cupcakes. This cupcakery is popular in SoCal? The cupcakes turned out alright. I may have over-baked them a bit--our oven does tend to cook things more quickly than recipes call for. If I had adjusted the baking time for the cupcakes, I think they would have turned out superb! I was initially a bit skeptical of this recipe seeing that my batter split between twelve liners barely filled half of each liner. The cupcakes however, rose nicely and formed perfect little domes. Yay.

Until I learn to use the "jump" function here, my posts will look obnoxiously long.

Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes
(Makes 1 dozen)

1½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ cup whole milk, at room temperature
¼ cup pureed strawberries (use all-natural frozen that have been thawed)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Fill a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside
4. Add vanilla and strawberry puree to milk and set aside
5. In standing mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy
6. Slowly add egg and egg whites and mix on medium speed until blended
7. With mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture until just blended
8. Add milk mixture and mix just until blended
9. Add remaining flour mixture and mix just until blended. Scrape down bowl to make sure entire mixture is smooth.
10.Divide batter between 12 cupcake cups and bake for approx 22 minutes or until tops are just dry to the touch

Sprinkles Strawberry Frosting
(Frosts 1 dozen)
2 sticks (½ lb) unsalted butter, firm but not cold
1/8 tsp kosher salt
3 ½ cups confectioners sugar, sifted
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp pureed strawberries (use all-natural frozen that have been thawed)

1. Beat butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy
2. Reduce speed and gradually add confectioner's sugar and beat until incorporated
3. Add vanilla and strawberry puree and mix until blended

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bad Romance

Come of think of it, I haven't seen a movie in a movie theater in a really long time. I've always loved the whole theater experience and I'm a bit disappointed that I haven't gone out to see a movie in such a long time.

Okay, I'll admit I do want to see that new Miley Cyrus flick "The Last Song". It's probably not worth spoiling $10 to watch it at a theater, so I'll probably screen this at home via the my computer. I've been wanting to see some cheesy "bad romance" movies for a while. Le sigh.