Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tempura Mushroom Sushi Roll

Warning: This post contains variable degrees of geekiness that may be unsuitable for some acculturated persons. Continue reading at your own discretion. Those with posh taste, a preference for late nights with sophisticated glasses of swirled cognac, and/or an inexplicable aversion to to Nintendo game systems (i.e. stalwart Playstation fans) should take extreme caution in reading the following content.

I love playing with my food.

Now, I’m not talking about the making-mashed-potato-and-gravy-volcanoes or broccoli forests kind of playing with my food. No siree, you can bet your bonny buttons my mom taught me better than that.

I am huge, however, on playing mental games with my food.

No, I don’t psychologize my celery or wax poetic about my peas, if that what you’re thinking.

I do, however, love making associations. (I should probably go back to doing that at some point.)

So let’s talk about mushrooms. I made some on Thursday for our gals’ book club night out to see an in-canyon theater performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream. I always use the fact that I’ve never seen/read this play as a great “Never Have I Ever…” item with my literature crew, but I guess I’ll have to find a new one now.

I’ve never ordered delivery takeout before. Does that count?

Anyway, we’re talking about mushrooms.

Remember this oversized shroom-head? If you’ve ever mashed an A button, cursed your friends for sending out an untimely lightning bolt in the middle of a race, or been inspired with paralyzing fear at the sound of an approaching spiny shell as the finish line looms into view…you’ll know who I’m talking about.

Yup. That’s Toad, the useless light-weight eunuch with the vocal range of a high soprano.

He loses a balloon in battle mode when he gets rammed by anyone by Yoshi (the other light-weight). A bump from Bowser pretty much guarantees a visit from that obnoxious cloud-dweller who fishes you out from the water when you fall off the track.

He looks like more like a eunuch than any real-like eunuch does. I mean, how much more eunuch-like can you get, really?

He has only two catch-phrases that are worth remembering: “I’m the best!” and “Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!”

Both of them are equally obnoxious.

He is what Aladdin would look like if he was a midget, if his head-wear contracted chicken-pox, and if he became a queen.

He is also my character from Mario Kart 64. Mine, mine, mine.

 Why? I have no idea. Probably because I got stuck with him as a very young kid playing with my older cousins. As we grew older, my self-esteem defense mechanisms kicked into overdrive and convinced me that I really just have an irrational love for the adorable eun–I mean, anthropomorphized mushroom. Not that the latter is much better.

Seriously, people get paid good money to come up with this stuff?’

They should start paying me. I come up with wacky, useless, and slightly eyebrow-raising stuff like that all the time. Decorative flower-shaped flour bags in 36 different garden varieties?

Yeah, we really need those.

In the meantime, though, you’ll really need these tempura mushroom sushi rolls for your next get-together, potluck, on-the-go lunch, or LAN party.

Tempura Mushroom Sushi Rolls

Ingredients:

For sushi rice:

  • 2 cups rice (standard measuring cup; not the cups that come with most rice bags)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar; you can adjust to taste
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (I used half rice vinegar, half white distilled); you can adjust to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • Water
  1. Rinse rice by swirling in a pot under running cold water. Pour out murky water, taking care not to pour out rice in the process. Repeat once more.
  2. Pour rice into rice cooker and cover with enough water to rise 1.5 cm above the rice. Cook rice in a rice cooker as usual. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, and salt. Pour over cooled rice and gently mix together until rice is completely coated. Your sushi rice is ready to go!

For tempura mushroom:

  • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 egg, beaten (other 1/2 will be used in filling)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a bowl, combine water and beaten egg. Add flour and baking soda; mix until combined. Dredge mushroom slices in tempura batter and set aside on a plate. Cover another plate with a paper towel (this will be used to drain the oil after you finish deep-frying).
  2. Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat (oil should be about one inch deep). When oil is hot, carefully drop in mushroom slices and deep-fry until each side is golden. Turn off heat, remove mushrooms from pan, and set on the paper-toweled plate. When the mushrooms cool slightly, pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

For sushi filling (you can substitute any ingredients depending on what you have on hand):

  • 1 1/2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cucumber or carrot, julienned
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Tamago (sweet egg): Heat up oil in a pan. Pour beaten eggs into pan, then sprinkle with sugar. When the bottom has begun to set and can be easily flipped, turn egg over and cook other side until set. Remove from pan.
  2. Onion: Heat up oil in pan. Cook sliced onions in pan until caramelized. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

To arrange sushi:

  • 6 sheets nori (dried seaweed)

On a sheet of nori, gently spread a layer of sushi rice so that entire sheet is covered.

Line up your ingredients along one side of the covered nori in columns.

Starting from the end with ingredients, tightly fold the nori over all of the ingredients–it should form a tube shape. Roll the rest of the roll tightly as you would a sleeping bag, occasionally stopping to press down firmly on the roll so it will retain its shape.

If you have a sushi mat, great! If not, don’t fret–you can still do this no problem.

Make sure you’re nice and firm with your sushi, but don’t push so hard that the toppings come popping out!

Your sushi should have no problem sticking if you have enough sushi rice. Cut with a very sharp knife and serve as desired! I cute mine in half and served them masubi-style.

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Rice, Vegetarian

National Catch-Up-on-Desserts Day: Peach Pie, Banana Split, and Cherry Popsicle Days

Absolutely abysmal! I promised these good people timely posts on their National Eat Dessert First Month entries, and then went ahead and landed myself in a place with as much internet access as Andromeda. Nice going, Ala. *virtual fail high five*

Anyway, here’s a recap of all the lovely national dessert days that have passed us by:

August 24th: National Peach Pie Day (kueken23 & Amanda)

August 25th: National Banana Split Day (Alicia)

August 26th: National Cherry Popsicle Day (Bob)

For the recipes and mouth-watering photos, take the jump!

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Stuffed Surprise Cookies–The Magic of Oreos and Cookie Butter

The best things in life always come in pairs.

Think about it: Batman and Robin.


Okay, that’s a terrible example to start with. For one thing, Robin was not the most useful sidekick to have hanging around the crime scene. From what I remember, he mostly just loitered around like a creepy, muscular elf in his red-and-green get-up. Am I right, or am I right?

(Dear DC Comic fans–please don’t kill me. Thanks.)

What about Romeo and Juliet?

Every time somebody says something like, “She’s the Juliet to my Romeo,” or vice versa, it takes a massive effort for me not to snort and reply, “Well, we all know how that one ended up.”

Right. That pair’s a definite dud.

That being said, though, some of the best things in life definitely come in pairs.

Take these cookies, for example. I call them “stuffed surprise cookies”–surprise! They’re stuffed!

Yeah…not much of a surprise, was that?

I was going to call them “pregnant cookies,” because they’re, you know, kind of pregnant with filling, but somehow that sounds kind of like you’re devouring a life-bearing specimen for dessert or something. And that’s wrong. I also imagined it’d be a little awkward to say.

Unknown Friend: What are you eating there?

Me or You: Oh, no much–just these delicious pregnant cookies.

Unknown Friend Maybe-Not-Such-A-Friend-Anymore: ….Uh, excuse me.

Yeah. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

I imagine that if you really ate cookie-bearing cookies, you would probably feel like a despicable human being and immediately lapse into a post-cookie-eating bout of depression.

Sort of like this:

(Caption: ”What a Monster–Cookie Baby Eater Spirals into Depression.”)

Just kidding. The actual title is “The Binge,” a.k.a. “Cookie Monster Overdose.” And yes, I actually own this bag from woot–my lovely friend gave it to me as a birthday present last year.

Needless to say, she has a very wry sense of humor. Sort of like me. Guess it explains why we’re friends.

It doesn’t explain, however, why these preggers cookies are so darn delicious, even though they sound like utter abominations. Cookie butter stuffed in white chocolate chip cookies, plus Oreos shoved into chewy chocolate chip dirt cookies?

Let’s stop being PC for a moment and smell the flowers, hear the birds, whatever you want to call it. Preggers cookies sound finger-lickin’ good right about now.

Yeast is a life form. You probably devour it mindlessly all the time and feel absolutely no remorse. Think about that. Pregger cookies. You know you want them.

The best part is, you can stuff pretty much whatever you like into these cookies and they will taste amazing. It’s a little trick I like to call “Not Really That Difficult But Damn Tasty” baking sense.

But seriously. How awesome would it be if cookies had cookie babies and we never had to make our own again? We’d have cookie farms popping up left and right, and you can bet your oven buns that I would be lobbying for it.

So what are you waiting for? Go make yourself some cookie babies! Er, you know what I mean.

By the way, I was so delighted when I read all of the lovely comments and saw all of the traffic coming in for my last post. (The honey peanut butter, by the way, only gets better the more I try and use it. You should definitely give it a whirl–in your food processor! Ha ha. See what I did there? Ahh….)

It was the first time I’d had a photo from my cheap-o camera published on Tastespotting, and it was so much fun being slightly obsessive curious and checking out the feed stats. Thank you for all of your kind words! I’m such a sucker for community conversation, so it was great getting to meet and greet y’all.

By the way, National Eat Dessert First Month is still happening, as is our month-long challenge! If you’re interested in joining in the festivities before this final summer week ends, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading, and happy eatings!

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Dirt Cookies

Adapted from Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipes

Yield: ~10 large cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 crushed Oreos
  • 5 Oreos, quartered

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg, then mix in vanilla.
  3. Add flour and salt to wet mixture. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to mixture, then stir until everything is just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and crushed Oreos.
  4. Place batter in fridge for at least 15 minutes, or until it is relatively easy to handle. Place a small dollop of dough (a bit bigger than a golf ball) onto a greased baking pan. Press down lightly with the back of a spoon until surface is flat, then place two Oreo quarters (half an Oreo total) onto dough. Place another dollop of dough of the same size on top, then seal dough. Smooth and round it out so that it forms a ball (it will flatten as it bakes).
  5. Continue making cookie balls until all of the dough is used up. Bake in preheated oven for 13-17 minutes, or until bottoms are golden.

Cookie Butter-Stuffed White Chocolate Cookies (Ala’s favorite!)

Use the ingredients list and directions for the Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Dirt Cookies above, with the following changes:

- Replace chocolate chips with white chocolate chips

- Omit crushed Oreos

- Replace Oreo quarters with a small amount of cookie butter

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Honey Peanut Butter

How many of you have ever grabbed a spoon, dunked it in an obliging jar of peanut butter, and called the rest history? Anyone?

I would raise my hand, but it’s busy alternately typing and scooping up yet another spoonful of this creamy homemade honey peanut butter. Think I’m lying? Try me.

Wait, no. You can try me in about ten minutes, when I’ve stopped eating this addicting nut butter and washed my hands. Then you can try me.

While you’re waiting for me to get my gunky fingers licked clean, I want to tell you about LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. My friend from Berkeley was visiting this weekend, and we randomly came across the most amazing and unexpected thing! Well, not the most amazing (Disneyland has that superlative covered, thank you very much) or most unexpected (it was a museum of, er, art, after all), but it was a close one. 

It was Magritte’s famous picture: The Treachery of Images, also known by its caption, Ceci n’est pas une pipe (or “This is not a pipe”).

I stood in front of this picture for at least five minutes. Pretty neat to think about though, huh? I’ve always loved studying ideas of representation and deconstruction, so this painting is right up my alley. (Wikipedia has some cool stuff to say about it, too.)

I remember seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time in seventh grade and feeling really, really underwhelmed. Not so with my dear friend Magritte!

Yet another A-list hard-hitter was the original Andy Warhol tomato can series exhibit. I don’t know why I didn’t expect this stuff in a huge museum of art, but I was pretty much floored when I suddenly found myself nose-to-nose with the paintings, which were hanging there just like everything else. Unassuming, but oh-so rich!

And of course, I had to do my own artsy rendition before I left:

We also went shmucking around some of the high-end stores in Santa Monica that morning, looking for cute, artsy, and essentially useless (but did I mention incredibly cute?) items in the stores.

I was seriously tempted by this mug because of its truth value:

In the new Target they’ve built in our area (probably the only perk of living in a college town that wholeheartedly supports corporate enterprises), they had these cute signs, too:

Of course, after looking at the price tag for all of this stuff, I decided to go with the bulk-package box of peanuts for my new mini-sized homemade processor. You know, the one that I’m deathly afraid of. Because of its massive blade and capacity to pull a Queen of Hearts execution on me at any moment. That food processor.

Thankfully for this blog, I’m really good at conquering my fears. I once fought off the ants invading my apartment bedroom all by myself, even though I’ve never purposely killed an ant in my life. And even though I cried like a baby after I killed one I found crawling on my bedside table, and even though I only killed it because somehow I had accidentally squashed part of it and it looked like it would have been in terrible pain. And even though I had to use a spray can of Raid to get rid of the ant line and cried after that, too. And even though I only sucked it up and did this because my dad threatened to fly all the way down to do it for me if I couldn’t.

Yeah, I’m really brave. I’d give Merida a run for her money, for sure.

But back to peanut butter. Right.

This stuff is insanely easy to make. No food processor fears here! Even for a huge wimp like me.

Happy reading, and happy eatings!

Honey Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups peanuts, salted and/or honey-roasted
  • 1 tablespoon honey (if peanuts are not honey-roasted)

Directions:

  1. Pour peanuts into food processor; lock the lid and machine into place. Grind for approximately 8-10 minutes total, allowing your food processor to rest every 30 seconds or so. Throughout the grinding process, your peanuts should go from finely crushed, to an oily paste, to a larger clump, and then to a creamy and smooth nut butter consistency.
  2. When your peanut butter is creamy and almost liquidly, remove it from processor. Stir in honey quickly.
  3. Serve with anything!

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A Pondering Post from the Hundred Acre Woods

I am not and have never been officially affiliated with the Walt Disney Company, or any of its previous forms.

Of course, if you know me for more than 15 minutes, you’ll known how badly I want to change that. As badly as Pooh wants hunny, and I’m sure it’s been haunting my thoughts just as frequently of late, if not more so.

That is why, when I visited Anaheim Disneyland with my friend on Friday,

Did I mention that I’ve been reading the Unofficial (but Officially Fantastic) Disneyland Encyclopedia? It’s a spot-on reference guide written by Disneyland frequenter Chris Strodder, who lives in the area and knows the history, layout, culture, and characters behind everything Disney. I’d say he even knows it better than he knows the back of his own hand, but that would be a highly inaccurate statement. How many people “know” the back of their own hand? I certainly don’t. I have better things to be doing. And so does Strodder, apparently. Like learning Disneyland by rote, for example. Now there’s a worthwhile ambition.

Another ambition I have is to make this cake. It’s the Unbirthday Cake from Alice in Wonderland, and since I absolutely adore anything Alice-related (who doesn’t love a mad cat and company?), I would love an excuse to make this one day. Just hand me an excuse. I dare you. Please?

In fact, I was going to make this cake earlier this year for the Edible Book Festival hosted by my school, but I ended up making a Dr. Seuss-themed cake instead (I’m a children’s lit gal, so as long as it’s related, I’m happy):

It was my first time using fondant under very difficult circumstances–this was a six-layer topsy-turvy cake, and much more difficult to frost/cover than a regular sheet cake–but things ended well anyway. The cake won “Most Creative” and I even received a $50 gift card! I made six layers of a fantastic white cake recipe and dyed the inside rainbow colors to make the Seussian theme. Those are white chocolate-dipped Cat Hat cake pops lining the back.

I could probably bore you to death with everything exciting we managed to do on our Happiest-Place-on-Earth adventure day, but here are some highlights:

1. Hunting for little-known historical markers from the Disneyland Encyclopedia. For example, see this balcony?

This is the balcony that used to house the Disney Gallery (I still remember going into it way back when, in the early 2000′s) above the Pirates ride. The ornate golden letters spell out the initials of Walt Disney and Roy Disney, respectively. Why? An apartment complex for the two of them had been on the planning board in this very space, and even though it didn’t eventually work out, the dedicatory decor still sticks.

We had lots of detail-hunting adventures like this throughout the day, which was loads of fun. I can’t wait until I read beyond the F and G entries in this encyclopedia!

2. We saw tons of cute confections, including these Mickey, Minnie, and Nightmare-themed caramel apples. Yum! Definitely inspired me to host my own Disney party soon, complete with these goodies.

2. After we took a picture with Gepetto (the old man from Pinocchio–which, on a minorly related note, is such a weird story in its original form), the photographer told me that I needed to clean my camera lens; the pictures were getting “faded” because I had gotten gunk on them. (Most likely from my baking/simultaneous-use-of-photographic-equipment.) After I did this, my pictures became so much sharper! In hindsight, I feel incredibly dumb…but just another reason I love the random stuff you give me, Disneyland!

3. My love for Alice in Wonderland is rivaled only by my love for the Winnie-the-Pooh franchise, which is the second top-selling franchise in Disney (the first is, obviously, the Mickey line). I’ve done an extensive amount of research on the original A.A. Milne stories, and am intensely interested in learning more about how the Disney versions adapted the original. But then once in a while, you get adorable things like this, and you could just throw all academics aside and let your heart (and stomach) melt a bit:


Marshmallow wands, Tigger style!

And don’t forget the hunny pots!

Did I mention that my poor privileged future children will all be well-endowed in their wardrobe choices long before they come along?

Did I actually buy it? No. Was I seriously considering it? ….Maybe.

Did I mention the fact that I really, really love Disneyland? And that, you know, say you were in the area. And say you had access to a car. (We had to hop on a shuttle to the airport, then take an express bus from the airport to Disneyland. Total round trip travel costs: 5 hours, and a whopping $60 per person. It was worth every penny, but yeah, not doing that again!) And say you were interested in going to Disneyland with somebody who could really show you the stops and get you through everything you wanted to see.

Say you were to leave a comment and tell me all of this.

Let’s just say that you might get a really fast reply, and possibly a message in your inbox titled, “When are we going to Disneyland?”

All of this is hypothetically speaking, of course. Let’s just leave it at that. Or maybe I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.

More weekend-blast-related entries, including our visit to see original Andy Warhol and Magritte paintings, as well as a homemade honey peanut butter recipe, to come!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What’s your favorite Disney (or Disneyland)-related memory or franchise? What makes it so special? - and -

Any recommendations for a gal who’s interested in buying a DSLR camera, but has an incredibly tight budget? (Range: $100-250)

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NEDFM Day 17 Challenge: National Vanilla Custard Day

It was the seventeenth day of National Eat Dessert First! Month, an entire 31 days dedicated to a different themed dessert but, more importantly, getting those desserts onto our plates and palates! Each day will feature a new guest chef’s photos and recipes for each theme. If you’re interested in joining in for a dessert-tastic month, read the details at the Dessert Month Challenge post. It’s never too late to start!

THEME DAY #17: APPLE CUSTARD CRUMBLE PIE

Courtesy of: rebecky_mo!

Original post: here

Hello again, b3! Time for my third (and final) claimed day for August. This recipe has been hanging out in my mom’s massive ‘to try’ list since 1997, when it debuted in Canada’s annual Dairy calendar (you can now find it on their website). I figured after 15 years, it wasn’t gonna happen, sooooooo…YOINK! I had to do a little switching around in this recipe; I couldn’t find a 10-inch pie shell or any McIntosh or Spy apples! I settled for 2 9-inch shells and Red Delicious apples, which unfortunately had them remaining crunchy after baking. It also seemed like 8 apples was a little too much; I had more than enough for 2 pie shells! The taste of the pie is still very good though, so I hope to try it again with the proper apples.

Without further ado, I give you Apple Custard Crumble Pie:


recipe and image from dairygoodness.ca

Apple Custard Crumble Pie

10 inch (25 cm) 1 deep-dish pie shell, unbaked
8 Ontario apples (McIntosh or Spy)
2 tbsp (30 ml) packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) ground cinnamon

Custard:
1 cup (250 ml) Milk
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream 35 %
1/4 cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup (80 ml) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 tsp (10 ml) grated lemon zest

Crumble:
1/2 cup (125 ml) packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, cubed
1/2 cup (125 ml) grated Canadian Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (125 ml) quick-cooking oats

- Preheat oven to 425 °F (225 °C).Partially bake the pie crust for 8 minutes. Let cool. Reduce heat to 350 °F (180 °C).

- Peel and core apples; cut into slices about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. In bowl, toss apples with brown sugar and cinnamon to coat.

- In another bowl, make custard. Beat together milk, cream, flour, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and lemon peel.

- In a third bowl, combine brown sugar, flour and spices. Cut in butter. Add Canadian Parmesan cheese and oats. Using your fingers, rub the crumble mixture together to resemble small peas.

- To assemble, spoon apples into the pie shell, pressing down lightly. Slowly pour custard over the apples. Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly, completely covering the filling.

- Bake at 350 °F (180 °C) for 45 to 50 minutes or until crumble is crunchy and apples are soft.

Read more at BakeBakeBake: http://bakebakebake.livejournal.com/3618373.html?view=44515909#t44515909#ixzz248rjqR6e

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Julia Child’s 100th Birthday Celebration and NEDFM Day 15: Lemon Meringue Pie

Do you know who my favorite superhero is?

No, it’s not Superman. It’s not Spiderman. It’s not Batman, or Catwoman, or the Incredible Hulk, or even Captain Underpants (although he’s pretty darn cool).

No, my favorite superhero is far less bionic than any of the above heroes. Heck, he’s even more useless than Aquaman, whose greatest superpower is his ability to talk to dolphins and company. Of course, he might’ve given Dory and Marlin a break if he’d made a guest appearance in Finding Nemo, but that would just be silly, plus we would’ve then missed out on possibly the best animated scene of all time (which, in case you didn’t know, is this–Ellen DeGeneres, I love you so much).

My favorite superhero? <<cue dramatic groundhog music>>

It’s…CAPTAIN OBVIOUS! Dah dah dah!

…Okay, yeah. Dud. I know. And no, you can’t throw a virtual tomato at me.

You can, however, throw a real tomato into your mixing bowl, because I have a real winner summer salad recipe for you here. (Ha!Not bad for a relatively contrived segue, eh?)

I made this for our in-celebration-of-Julia Child afternoon–we put on Julie & Julia and proceeded to feast in her name while singing praises of her and Paul Child’s love. Seriously. Those two were like, I don’t know, that really stubborn egg that you’re trying to separate but just will not separate. You know the one I’m talking about. The egg where the whites and yolk are like the same freakin’ entity. That’s what Julia and Paul Child were. An inseparable, heads-over-yolk in love pair.

My friend even made this from Julia’s desserts section (I’ll have to look up the name and get back to you on it, unless anyone recognizes it–it involves cherries!):

The Captain Obvious point was initially related, I swear. I was going to say that yesterday was Julia Child’s 100th birthday, and I’d be about the 7.2 millionth person to point it out, so I’ll just…not say it and assume that you already know.

But you have to try this salad! Okay? It’s in honor of Julia (she has a section on vegetable salads/marinades), but I made it using my own recipe, because I’m also a really stubborn egg and happen to like my version better. Sorry, Julia!

Cucumber Tomato Summer Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (I used a combination of rice vinegar and white vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl (adjust vinegar-sugar ratios as desired). Place cucumbers and tomatoes in a large bowl; pour liquid over them and toss to coat. Leave in fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours, tossing every half hour or so to ensure that liquid soaks into all of the salad. Serve chilled.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, aren’t these just the cutest measuring cups ever? My friend had them at her place when we were making our Day 15 themed entry together:

Aren’t they just the cutest? I love having Aquaman-level-useless cooking instruments on hand that just make me, admittedly, happy to an irrational degree whenever I spot them. It’s like:

Me: Ho hum, cooking in the kitchen, la la…

<<Spots the cute cat measuring cups>>

Me: …..

And then…

Me: LA LA COOKING IN THE KITCHEN WITH CUTE CATS HEE HEE <3 <3 <3

Ahrm. I also make sure I keep my peppy playlist blasting whenever I’m in the kitchen (my favorite stove-side tunes are the Glee soundtrack and anything from Tangled, Enchanted, or Disney in general). Whenever my roommate comes home and I have the radio blaring out from my room, I always have to put down whatever I’ve been using as a mock microphone (usually my spatula) and look like I’m really, really intent on, um, cleaning something. Or something.

Do you have any kitchen-time guilty pleasures or ways to get you in a good mood while you’re in the kitchen?

————————————————

And finally, last but not least in this monster posts of monster posts…our (belated) NEDFM entry!

THEMED ENTRY #15: LEMON MERINGUE PIE

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NEDFM Challenge Day 13: National Trail Mix Day

 It’s the thirteenth day (already!) of National Eat Dessert First! Month, an entire 31 days dedicated to a different themed dessert but, more importantly, getting those desserts onto our plates and palates! Each day will feature a new guest chef’s photos and recipes for each theme. If you’re interested in joining in for a dessert-tastic month, read the details at the Dessert Month Challenge post. It’s never too late to start!

Our decadent Day 13 entry features every health nut’s dessert dream–Trail Mix Cookies!

THEMED ENTRY #13:  TRAIL MIX COOKIES

Courtesy of: doubletake!)

Source of original post: http://bakebakebake.livejournal.com/3614820.html

Nom nom nom

Trail Mix Cookies!

These hearty, chewy, crunchy cookies are wonderful for a mid-day snack or a picnic lunch in the middle of a hike–just like traditional GORP or trail mix, there’s lots of fiber to keep you feeling full, plus healthy fats and protein from the seeds and nuts…and of course, delicious, delicious carbs for energy.

They may not look like much (especially through my cell’s camera, sorry) but these were the most popular cookie we made at the pastry school I went to–topping even the Ginger Valrhona cookies, which is a difficult feat!

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August 14, 2012 · 4:52 am

A (Bon-Bon) Birthday Bash

It’s probably rather belated to be announcing this via the world wide ether, but since yesterday (August 12th) was my birthday, I’m claiming my birthday-ial prerogative to say what I want, and–

–and there goes the punch line. Oops. My friends always did tell me I was the worst joke-teller in the world. Guess these things don’t really change with age, huh?

Anyway, Happy Belated Birthday, Me!

I never really understood the people who get really, really melancholic when their birthday tumbles around like a jolly rolly-poly each year. The only living creature that’s allowed to get marginally depressed about a day that’s all about celebrating you, in my opinion, is Eeyore, and that’s only because he A.A. Milne is a genius, may he rest in peace. Plus, he–that is, the donkey–is just so darn cute.

Of course, I can only imagine what Eeyore would say in that slow, gloomy voice of his if he saw this cake (I’ll tell you why in a second):

Okay, here’s the secret: I didn’t actually get to eat any yet.

Thanks, Eeyore. I can feel your gloomy sympathetic vibrations. (Haunted Mansion reference, anyone? No? Okay, never mind…I’ve obviously been reading too much of the amazing Disneyland Encyclopedia I got myself as an early “birthday present.”)

This is the world’s best, most nostalgia-filled ice cream cake ever known to mankind. I exaggerate. And again, I cite my belated-birthday-prerogative to do so. It’s the best. Period. Mocha almond fudge ice cream stuffed inside a smooth, I-don’t-know-to-this-day-how-they-do-it-chocolate-ganache/frosting with green icing and frosted with chopped nuts. YUM.

If anyone has any ideas about how I can put Baskin Robbins out of business by replicating this frosting, I would not be opposed at all.

That being said, as a very loyal customer…ahem…

I ask for this cake every single year we’re at home for my birthday. For the past few years, all I’ve gotten was a lousy slightly less satisfactory ice cream pie version of this. It’s not nearly as good. It’s like trying to compare a vacation to Disneyland with, say, a “vacation” to your local petting zoo. Sure, the latter’s quaint. No, it’s never going to be as good. And your parents need to stop pretending it is, suck it up, and get you the real deal. (But hey, I love my parents anyway.)

At any rate, we didn’t eat this cake because I spent Saturday celebrating my birthday a day early with my friends. We bought a carrot cake and served the ice cream bon-bombes I made for the occasion because a) it would feed more mouths, and b) frankly, I’m extremely territorial when it comes to my ice cream cake (hey, you would be too if you got to eat it only once every 365 days) so generous and thought ahead about how my small, six-inch round ice cream cake wouldn’t feed all of my friends. So kind. It must come with, erm, the maturity of age. Yeah.

My mom still babies me when I come home and cooks me up feasts like I’m a starving, helpless newborn. I generally try not to correct this mistaken impression.

Helpless? Sure I am. Newborn? Uhhh…yeah, if you say so. Does that mean I get to eat this stuff every night?

Anyway, every year I’m reminded of why I love turning a year older. I lied earlier when I said that it’s a day about celebrating you–it’s really a day about celebrating the fact that you can share your day with everybody else around you that you care about. And every year I’m reminded that every day should be, you know, birthday status. (The birthday girl privileges, while obviously not a given, would be a nice side perk to keep around.)

For my birthday, my mom made me my favorite dish ever–Chinese chicken salad, a la mom. It’s seriously one of the only meat dishes I will ask to eat, and so worth every extra carbon footprint I add by eating it. (Of course, I would just as happily eat a tofu and/or soy meat variation on this–but that’s pure unheard-of nonsense in my household. “You want meat sub-ee-whaaa?” they say. “Eat chicken. Good for you.” I grossly exaggerate. And now I digress.)

You can also tell when the carnivore, a.k.a. my brother is around for dinner, because then the whole cow comes out on the groaning table.

My friends came over to our newly-recarpeted place and spent all of Saturday night burning the night oil playing board games, solving logic puzzles, and being completely conniving jerks in a game called Revolution. It’s sort of like Mafia, but everybody gets to play, and nobody gets killed–it’s all about reading other people’s ability to lie and trying to collaborate to figure out who’s on your team.

I’m a huge fan of backstabbing/deceit games (apparently I’m the worst person to play Munchkins with; I’m a notoriously good con-woman, which should serve as a warning sign of…something?). My palms were seriously sweaty; I was a government spy for five turns in a row, and by the end of the last game of the night at two in the morning, my friend said that his heard had been torn a million times throughout the night because he trusted me so many times.

Oops. Sorry, bud.

It was, however, an awesome start to a new age, and it was killer getting to pass a birthday midnight with my crew. On the actual day of my birthday, my parents bought us all Les Mis tickets!

Now, I’ve seen my fair share of very good musicals–Wicked, Rent, Lion King, Phantom, the list goes on and on–and this was definitely in the top three. I’ve (slightly shamefully) never heard anything about the storyline, much less read Hugo’s complete Les Mis, but I enjoyed the performance so much. Not only were the singers stellar–the men who sang for Jean Valjean and Javert were amazing–but the actors just drew you in in a way that is so difficult for musicals to achieve in good faith.

I loved everything from the revolution story, to the personal story of a converted convict, to the tragic and happy fates of the lovers. It was all beautifully done, and I would see it again in a heartbeat. Plus I guess it didn’t hurt that Marius was such a good looker, huh?

Only kidding. Sort of.

Yeah, not really.

Anyway, remember what I said earlier about ice cream cakes being my favorite dessert in the world? I lied. Again. What can I say? I’m a chronic liar with backstabbing talents. The CIA should hire me.

This is my favorite dessert–jello cheesecake, made by my auntie. I tried making this once, failed miserably like Les Mis, and stuck to being fed like a foie gras duck. And my aunt made it just for my birthday!

I’m going to post this recipe when I try it again. You need to try this. Just maybe not very soon. My recipe. My cheesecake.

Anyway, the rest of the night was spent with more amazing food and family time. One last thing before I turn in for the night after all the festivities…

Can you guess what this is?

I’ll give you a hint…

Yeah. Weird, right? In the wise words of Erik Per Sullivan the seahorse from finding nemo, it’s…the butt.

And on that incredibly mature, new-age note, I’m off to listen to some Susan Boyle before I go to sleep. NEDFM post for today will have to wait until, er, later today. Happy reading, and happy eatings to y’all!

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes, Frozen Desserts

NEDFM Challenge Day 12: Toasted Almond Bars

It’s the twelfth day (already!) of National Eat Dessert First! Month, an entire 31 days dedicated to a different themed dessert but, more importantly, getting those desserts onto our plates and palates! Each day will feature a new guest chef’s photos and recipes for each theme. If you’re interested in joining in for a dessert-tastic month, read the details at the Dessert Month Challenge post. It’s never too late to start!

Our decadent Day 12 entry features a creative spin on the standard toasted almond bar–wait for it…Buttery Toasted Almond Birthday Cappuccino Oatmeal Bars!

Even though he’s all the way up north, my friend Bob made these in celebration of–yes–my birthday! It was an all-around sweet dessert–sweet & thoughtful, but also sweet & delicious, I’m sure! Thanks so much, Bob!

Great for a new baker, yeah?

THEMED ENTRY #10:  Buttery Toasted Almond Birthday Cappuccino Oatmeal Bars

Courtesy of: Bob the Baker

Aw, Bob spoils me so much :) thank you~

Inspired by Toasted Almond-Cappuccino-Oatmeal Bars
http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/toasted-almond-cappuccino-oatmeal-bars/b4331594-94e3-4234-b4e7-1e034688cf97

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts