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Monday, February 21, 2011

Hello Kitty Cake Pops

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mayhap you remember last year when i made fondant hello kitty cookies for a friend's 25th. for same said friend this year, i made hello kitty cake pops. as seen here. let's not try to make comparisons between the two versions, k?

materials used:
pillsbury moist supreme strawberry cake mix (don't judge me for using boxed mix)
pillsbury valentine's funfetti frosting
wilton's lemon yellow icing
red hots
fruit roll up
food writer edible color markers
wilton black decorating gel
cookie sticks (i also used lollipop sticks which were ok, but not recommended)
wilton melting chocolate/candy coats, in white
white chocolate chips for the ears
wilton pops gift boxes

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what i learned:
making cake pops is messy work
use about 3/4 of the container of frosting
funfetti adds texture
overnight refridgerate the cake balls after you stick them
when heating up the chocolate, allow to cool somewhat. makes for coating the balls easier & less drip time
make the bows the night before. fold the fruit roll up into flat strips & cut into triangles. they're sticky enough, they'll cling to the red hots
use the melted chocolate to glue the bow to the head
save your $8 & nix the edible color markers. they suck ass
lastly, gluing chocolate chips to cake balls at 3am is hard work. there were some cake pops with lopsided ears, gives it a bit of... charm

verdict:
they were a hit, visually & taste-wise. birthday girl was happy, dinner guests shunned the restaurant's desserts & i have 364 days to come up with next year's hello kitty treat. meow.

i'm going on a mental break from food blogging, but i'll still post randoms on the facebook page & tweet when i feel like snarking in 140characters.

in the meantime, try not to miss me...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest Blogger: Made with my Bear Hands & Lemon Chess Pie

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i am so pleased to present my first ever guest blogger. bear is a dear friend who started her own food blog a few months ago: Made With My Bear Hands. we spent saturday afternoon cooking together, catching up & basically being assclowns. i made shepherd's pie and bear created this lemony tart dessert. please do check out her space, she's awesome.

My grandma's lemon chess pies were my FAVORITE dessert when I was growing up. As soon as I hugged her and let her pinch my cheeks, I would run to the kitchen and devour a lemon chess pie.

These little tarts are baked to a golden, cripspity (crisp+buttery) brown. Mmm-mmmm! (shudder)

I loved these tarts so much, I ate about.......six........in a day. Turns out, when you eat that much citrus, your body can't handle all of the acid. Sooooo I broke out in an intense skin rash and felt like my body had sunburn from the inside out. I was freaking out and had to confess that I had eaten six lemon tarts. Did I mention it was August in North Carolina? Yeah....no bueno. My mom had to sit me in a cold bath until I cooled down.

What did I learn? Absoluty nothing. I was back to eating lemon tarts the next day.

I made these lemon chess pies for Lan and a few friends. It was like a trip down memory lane....without the unattractive hives.

Grandma - I miss you but your legacy lives on :)

Lemon Chess Tarts
4 lemons
1 stick margarine
2.5 cups sugar
6 eggs
16 tart shells

Lightly beat eggs, add sugar and beat lightly. Add 1 stick of melted margarine. Add juice of lemons and stir. Add grated rind of about 2 lemons and a pinch of salt. Pour into shells and bake 30-35 minute at 350F.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Curried Lentil Soup

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i'm not kidding when i say that i've been avoiding the kitchen. i've also been avoiding this blog. i have two more posts & then i'm going on a sabbatical. i am available on the interwebs, you know how to reach me.

Curried Lentil Soup
adapted from Diane Rossen Worthington in Williams-Sonoma Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion (finely chopped) or 1-2 leeks, cleaned, sliced, and roughly chopped
1-3 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Generous tablespoon curry powder
1-2 bay leaves (i ix-nayed this, cus i ran out)
bunch of chive blossoms, cus i had a it in the fridge & i needed to use it
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 bag (16 oz) dried lentils, rinsed, picked over, and drained
6 cups veggie broth
1 lemon, sliced (i ix-nayed, because i forgot. instead, threw in a dash of red-wine vinegar at the end
1 cup chopped fresh spinach, or 1 1-lb frozen pack (or bunch of kale)
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil, then add onion/leeks, carrot, and celery. Saute until softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and saute for one minute more. Add curry powder and cook till fragrant (about 1 minute).
Add tomatoes, juice, bay leaf, kale, lentils, stock to cover, and the lemon slices. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and cook till lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add remainder of stock and heat up. Discard bay leaf and lemon slices. dash or two of red wine vinegar.
If using fresh spinach, add just before serving. If using frozen, add at the end and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.

thanks dw.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rabbit Weekend

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look. i know i mostly identify with my vietnamese roots and yet i am calling this year the Year of the Rabbit like the Chinese, and not the Year of the Cat like the vietnamese. i don't know why that is, and frankly, i'm too hung over to contemplate the whys of it all. just know that this weekend was about friends and family, drinks and food, pictures that will hopefully never see the light of day and images that i am willing to share here, and of course, for more Chinese New Year pix, click here.

captions:
poapoa always has the cutest home decor, chinese thru and thru.
leecee and the kiddie table.
cashew veggie stir fry and the best sticky rice.
night. i'm only just slightly obsessed with bare tree branches.
i looked up & there was a church.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

banh bao - baked & steamed

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january wasn't a good cooking month for me. my heart wasn't in it. february is shaping up the same way. it's nothing bad, it's actually quite normal. when it gets frigid outside, i'm a lazy ass. i'd rather be snuggled under my flannel throw, reading or watching tv. further, i'm combatting a cold that just won't quit.

today is the first day of the new lunar year. finally, the ferocious Year of the Tiger is done, and the calmer Rabbit is taking its place. i have vowed to make 2011 more enjoyable, more positive and shit if i'm not about to kick some fucking Rabbit ass.

bring it sister.

Baked or Steamed Bánh Bao

my filling was leftover wonton filling that i had in the freezer. that tip about rolling the filling in flour prior to being wrapped in the dough: Golden. don't skip it.

i also used adult eggs, quartered, because i wasn't about to make a special trip for quail eggs, as cute as they are.

for the dough, i used light cream. it's what i had handy. it was my first time using self-rising flour. i did end up adding a few tablespoons of flour to un-stick-ify the dough.

i don't have a steamer, i had to macgyver a colander and pot. take that Fancy Steamers!

to bake, i preheated the oven to 350F and baked these parcels for about 20 minutes, until golden. if you think about it, egg wash would be good. i wasn't thinking.

these freeze well, wrapped individually. just pop in microwave for about 2-3 minutes & you've got breakfast.

happy new year, may this year be a lucky one, with good health and prosperity.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

hello february

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{unedited shots taken with my point/shoot. sometimes i don't like to lug the dslr everywhere i go}

i gripe every winter about the snow. but with sunsets like these, when the light is more gold than cold, can you blame me for staying put?

hi February, there's only 28 days of you this year, and then God willing, March will blow in warm. either way, i am happy to see you.