Saturday, July 26, 2014
If you’ve been following me on Instagram (Click here if you haven’t!), you might recalled that I recently took a trip to France! The purpose of the trip? Besides taking some time off to relax, it was mainly a trip to celebrate our up coming 10th-year wedding anniversary! I know, I couldn’t believe it had been 10 years already. It was nice to take a trip to relax, a true vacation, without the Kids. Although I missed them terribly, for the first few hours after boarding! Okay, and maybe everyday during the trip. It was awesome to spend some alone time with Hubby! Special Thank You to my In-Laws for taking great cares of the Kids while we were gone. No words can describe how much I appreciate their generous and thoughtful gestures. The great news was, the Kids had so much fun with their packed activities that they didn’t want to come home either!
We took quite many pictures on our trip and I can’t wait to share the details with you. But I do need some time to sort them out and turn them into posts, and helpful guides. Just in case some of you are planning to travel to France in the near future. So stay tuned for the upcoming posts. I guaranteed that you won't want to miss them. Meanwhile, I missed the French Pastry terribly! Guess that’s called the after vacation blues? To ease some pains, I baked myself several batches of Chouquettes! Of course, not all at once! These were so good that my Kids couldn’t stop eating as well.
Chouquettes is a type of French baked goods consisting of a small portion of choux pastry sprinkled with pearl sugar and sometimes filled with custard or mousse. The ones that I had while I was in France was plain, so I left them the way they were….and really, you don’t really need anything else when you have a plates piled high with these little confections. They are crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The pearl sugar on top adds a lovely crunch and sweetness.
Here’s the bag of Pearl Sugar that I bought from France (see picture below) while I was shopping in one of their huge supermarkets. (I know, most people go there and shop for handbags, while I shop for grocery and baking tools!) Sorry, I just couldn’t help it! And my Hubby was wondering why our luggage was so heavy while we flew from Paris to Cannes! Opps! The good news is, you can get these pearl sugar online these days, just a different brand! (Click her to see similar product)
Ready to see how I made the Chouquettes? Follow me to my kitchen:
1) Line baking sheet silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2) In a small saucepan, heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter, stirring occasionally, until all the butter is melted.
3) Remove from heat and add all the flour in at once.
4) With a wooden spoon, stir quickly until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
5) Allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two, then add the eggs, and stir until the dough is smooth and incorporated.
6) Fit a large round piping tip in a pastry bag.
7) Place pastry bag in a tall glass for easy handling (optional).
8) Transfer the dough into the pastry bag and pipe dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
9) Position the piping tip 1/2-inch above the baking sheets, pipe dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, at least 1-inch apart from each other.
10) With a clean finger, gently press the tip of the dough down.
11) Brush the top of each dough with some of the egg wash.
12) Then press the pearl/coarse sugar over the top. Bake for 25 minutes, turn off the oven and let the baked puffs sit in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cut a small slit on the side of each puff so the steam can escape. Cool on a wiring rack.
There were a few steps to follow but pretty straight forward and easy. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. Although I can’t take you with me to France, I hope this recipe will give you a little taste of French pastry goodness. I hope you enjoy today’s post, pictorial, and recipe. Stay tuned for my France travel posts.
Props and Tools used in this post:
Pearl/Coarse Sugar (Click her to see similar product)
Godinger Dublin Crystal Cracker Tray (Click here for more information)
Eiffel Tower Paper Napkins (Click here to see similar product)
Mikasa Something Borrowed Salad/Desert Plates (Click here for more information)
Silpat (Click here for more information)
Pastry Bags (Click here to see similar product)
Large Round Piping Tip (Click her for more information)
Silicone Pastry Brush (click here to see similar product)
Wooden Spoon (Click here to see similar product)
Calphalon Nonstick 2-Piece Baking Sheet Set (Click her for more information)
Saturday, July 19, 2014
My Hubby and I love to try out different restaurants, usually when he gets a day off. Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill was on our to-try list for a while but we haven’t done so until recently. The only reason we hesitated was the location. Check out the address and the map and you’ll see why. This restaurant is kind of tucked inside a plaza, and not too close to the freeway. But if you live or work nearby, I highly recommend that you to give this place a try.
First up, we order this Fire Fly Squid from the Chef’s Special menu. It was a refreshing and fun appetizer to start a meal.
Who doesn't love Popcorn Lobster Tempura? This is tempura done right. The crust is crispy and light along with juicy and tender lobster inside.
This Chillean Seabass Misoyaki was my favorite from the whole meal. The outside is slightly charred and packed with the wonderful miso aroma. The inside is super moist and juicy! A must-try for sure.
We also tried the Taco Yaki (Octopus Balls). This is one of my favorite street food from Japan. These were great, and very traditional, just how I like them.
We also ordered the Pacific Surf Clam Sushi from the Chef’s Special menu. Unfortunately, there’s nothing special about them at all! They are fresh, and that’s about it.
There were many rolls to choose from at Ahi Ahi Sushi. We've tried this Foothill Ranch Roll. Which is spicy tuna, mango and masago (fish eggs) on fish tempura roll, mustard and House Special Sauce. It’s wonderful and I love the sweet flavor from the mango that balanced really well with the spicy tuna.
If you like sushi, this one is quite special and not something that you’d see everyday. It’s the Shrimp Boat! Which contains sushi Ebi (cooked shrimp), crab meat, masago, and (raw) quail egg yolk on top. It’s decadent and I love anything with an raw egg yolk on top!
Last but not least, we've tried the Sexy Salmon Roll. Ingredients are salmon sashimi on spicy tuna roll, pickle wasabi, green Tobiko and Ponzu Sauce. The pickle wasabi was amazing. It was just a tiny dot on top but it brought out the flavors of the whole roll and took it to the next level. I highly recommended you to try this one.
I hope you enjoy today’s post and review. Please stay tuned for more yummy reviews and recipes.
Ahi Ahi Sushi Bar & Grill:45 Auto Center Drive, Suite 120
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610
Phone number (949) 600-9833
Restaurant Review Disclaimer: uTry.it restaurant reviews are solely based on our experience at each restaurant we visit. They were just our opinions. uTry.it and its owner were not compensated in any way to dine at these restaurants nor to write reviews.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Do you love hanging out at the Spa? Imagine having a totally relax day to detox; treat yourself to a nice long body wrap or massage; maybe even a little pampering pedicure! These all sound wonderful and I believe we all deserve a little time off to unwind from our hectic lives, every once in a while. I love going for a spa day with my girlfriends; hanging out at the steam room or Jacuzzi while sipping a little spa water and chit chat away. But with the Kiddos off from school in the summer, it’s hard for me to “escape”! But at least, I can make some spa water and day dream a little at home.
I’m sure you are all familiar with the typical spa water, which usually is pretty much adding a few slices of cucumber or lemon wedges into ice cold water to keep you stay hydrated while you enjoy the Spa facilities. Today, I wanted to share 5 different spa water recipes with you, all naturally flavored with fresh fruit and herbs.
They’re pretty much an upgraded spa water compared to the typical ones you get from the Spa (with just a few stingy slices of cucumbers? Come on! We can do better than that.) Best of all, these are really refreshing and super easy to prepare. Some even say these types of spa water help your body to detox. Detox or not, I’m not too sure. All I know is that they are a feast to your eyes and very delicious. Plus, you can use any fruit and/or herbs that you like or in season.
Follow me to my Spa Kitchen and see how I prepare these Spa Water:
1) In a mason jar or mug, fill the jar 1/3 full with your choice of fruit and herb, then muddle with a wooden spoon
2) Fill the jar with ice cubes
3) Then, fill the jar with filtered water or chilled sparkling water, enjoy!
Super easy, isn't it? Here are the different versions that I've prepared.
The picture below shows you the Watermelon and Mint Spa Water. Simply cut the watermelon in cubes and add a spring of mint and muddle away. It’s watermelon season right now and this is super refreshing. The natural sweetness from the watermelon really flavors the water and the mint adds a nice cooling factor.
Up next is the Nectarine and Meyer Lemon Spa Water. I happen to have these ingredients in the fridge so why not? This combination turned out really great as the sweetness from the nectarine compliment the tartness from the Meyer Lemon really well. Both fruits add its own mild tone of floral aroma to this water.
The third one I wanted to share with you is the Blackberry and Rosemary Spa Water. Isn't the color gorgeous? I adore the earthy aroma from the rosemary and the blackberries really stand up to their own flavor and not overpowered by the rosemary.
Up next is the Raspberry and Lime Spa Water. The color contrast alone is a feast to the eyes. The raspberries I have are super sweet with just a hint of tartness, perfect combination with the lime.
Last but not least, Meyer Lemon, Lime and Thyme Spa Water. If you don’t have Meyer Lemon, you can use regular lemon in this one as well. Or add a slice of orange to add more citrus flavor. I love the refreshing and floral tone from the Meyer Lemon and the lemony fresh thyme really adds more depth to this drink.
I love these mason drinking jars, you can get them from here. I prefer using glass jars because I do not want to mix citrus (think about acid) with plastic containers. Another option is that you can use a large pitcher to make a bigger portion as well. These are perfect for drinking throughout the day to stay hydrated, as well as for summer parties! Aren't they festive and vibrant? They are totally delightful to drink and you know they are good for you, too. Plus, these are way healthier than drinking sodas!
Another reason why I love these mason drinking jars? I can close them tight with a lid if I don’t drink them right away. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 2 or 3 days and the flavor will infuse the water even more. And I can just grab one and go….and usually that means going to the park with the kiddos. Love how portable and convenient they are.
I hope you enjoy today’s post and recipes. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay beautiful! Wish you all a fun and fantastic summer holiday!
Tools and Prop used in this post:
Mason Drinking Jars with Handle (Click here for more information)
Mason Jar Lids (Click here for more information)
Blue Paper Straws (Click here for more information)
Red Paper Straws (Click here for more information)
Grey Paper Straws (Click here for more information)
Aqua Paper Straws (Click here for more information)
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Can you believe it's already July? I hope you're enjoying a fantastic summer so far. With summer kicking off, it's also the grilling and cool treats season. If you haven't figured out your Fourth of July celebration recipes just yet, I have a few suggestions for you that you're going to love.
First off is the Grilled Ribeye Steak with Vanilla Coffee Rib. It's flavorful and scrumptious. This recipe will definitely please any meat lovers out there. Click here to check out the recipe.
If steak is not your thing, give this American Classic Hamburger with Caramelized Onions and Spicy Mayo recipe a try. The good news is, you can add any other ingredients that you love, cheese, mushrooms, bacon and make it your own! (Please click here for the recipe and food handling tips)
For side dish, I recommend this Grill Vegetable Salad, especially if you're firing up the grill. It's super easy and I know you'll love this refreshing salad. (Click here for the recipe)
It's not a summer party without the cool and refreshing lemonade! Make this Meyer Lemonade and you'll love it even more. It's easy to make and perfect for gatherings. (Check out the easy recipe here)
Posted by Amy at 8:28 AM
Sunday, June 22, 2014
My oven is on almost everyday, or every other day. From homemade loaf bread, cookies, cupcakes, to roasted vegetables and chickens drumsticks, I certainly keep my oven quite busy. But as the temperature rises, I do long for no bake treats. After all, it’s not that fun to turn on the oven and adding more heat to the almost triple digit temperature out there. This Chocolate Tiramisu Layer Cake will certainly holds a special spot in your fridge, then your tummy, and probably in your heart after you've tried a piece. I especially love it when I don't have to turn on the oven in the summer to make a gorgeous cake. After all, I have quite a few birthdays to celebrate in summer!
My Kids love Tiramisu, both the traditional one and the Strawberry version (recipe here). However, I've got to keep it to just a tasting portion for the traditional ones because there’s coffee in it. That’s the main reason why I created this Chocolate version of Tiramisu so everyone in the family can enjoy. I guess it’s not news anymore that my whole family is chocoholic! Um, I guess it runs in the family; especially, my Baby Girl, she loves dark chocolate way more than milk or white ones! She’s definitely a little foodie.
Since there’s no baking involved in this Chocolate Tiramisu Layer Cake, it is rather an easy cake to make. All you need to do is have each element ready before you start layering and assembling the cake. The ingredients are quite straight forward and pretty easy to find these days. At the end of the post, I’ll list the links of the products that I used for your convenience so you know what to look for when you go shop. The toughest part of this cake? WAITING! Yes, after you put the cake together, you have to let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving. That gives the lady fingers the time they needed to fully absorbed all the moisture and goodness, and softened up to cake like consistency. If you ask me, I think it’s totally worth the wait!
As you might already know. Tiramisu in Italian means “pick me up”. Traditionally, this famous dessert is made of ladyfingers (a very light weight and crispy cookies) dipped in a mixture of espresso and liquor, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks, cream and mascarpone cheese and cocoa powder. The texture is so soft and fluffy, hence, it’s called “pick me up”. So, the texture of this Chocolate Tiramisu Layer Cake is also very light, tender, soft and fluffy! Yet, it’s rich and chocolate-y at the same time because of the dark cocoa powder that I used. I love Valrhona's! Trust me on this one. I've tried a fair share of cocoa powder and this one gives me the richest, darkest, and most chocolate-y taste! The mascarpone cheese provided the silky, rich and creamy texture. This dessert is rich and satisfying, but not overly sweet.
As you can see from the pictures of the whole cake, I leave the sides of this cake with a rustic look and you can see all 3 layers of cream and the lady fingers as well. You can make it smooth and seamless by smearing a thin layer of whipped mascarpone cream mixture to the side of the pan before soaking and lining the lady fingers. You’ll see what I mean when we go over the pictorial below. Ready to step into the kitchen with me? Let’s go!
1) Grease the side and bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan.
2) Line the bottom and sides of the pan with a piece of parchment paper, make sure the parchment paper is a little taller than the side of the pan by 1/2 to 1-inch.
3) Heat and whisk all the ingredients of the chocolate milk mixture until sugar dissolved. Pour mixture into a shallow dish to let cool.
4) In the bowl of the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar until soft peak.
5) Stop the mixer and add the mascarpone cheese. Beat the mixture until medium peak forms.
6) Add the cocoa powder and beat until incorporated
7) Dip the lady fingers into the chocolate milk mixture, 1 to 2 second for both sides. Do not dip too long or else your lady fingers will get too soggy.
8) Line the dipped lady fingers on the bottom of the prepared pan. You might need to break a piece to fill the gaps between the lady fingers. You should be able to fit 12 pieces (100 grams) in a layer.
9) Spread 1/3 of the mascarpone cheese mixture on top of the lady fingers. Spread evenly on top.
10) Dust 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder to cover the top.
11) Repeat 2 more layers by dipping more lady fingers into the chocolate milk mixture, follow by mascarpone mixture and cocoa powder.
12) Do not dust the very top of the final layer of mascarpone cream mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least 24 hours before serving.
13) When it’s ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap.
14) Remove the ring of the spring-form pan and the parchment paper on the sides.
15) Dust the top of the cake with 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
16) Decorate with a few fresh raspberries and fresh mint leaves and enjoy!
Pretty simple, right? You’ll be amazed with how simple this cake is to prepare, yet got that wow factor and tasted just as amazing as it looks, if not better. I hope you enjoy today’s recipe and give this cake a try. You can come back and thank me later.
Tools and Props used in this post:
9-inch Non-Stick Spring Form Pan (Click here for more information)
Ruffled Edges White Cake Stand (Click here to see similar product)
KitchenAid Stand Mixer (Click here for more information)
Cake/Pie Server (Click here for more information)
2 Tone Bamboo Cutting Board (See similar product here)
Small Forks for Dessert (See similar product here)
Italian Lady Fingers (Click here for more information)
Valrhona Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Click here for more information)
Mascarpone Cheese (Click here for more information)
Cooking Spray (Click here for more information)