Sunday, April 24, 2011
I’ve been craving for some Tiramisu lately. It’s one of my favorite desserts. Hm…guess I really have a long list of favorites. Anyhow, I can’t seem to find ladyfingers anywhere, which is one of the main ingredients in making Tiramisu. I’ve tried to bake the ladyfingers but unfortunately, they weren’t that successful. (Yeah, not everything came out of my kitchen are perfect. Let’s be real.) The homemade ladyfingers were not good enough for me to use them in my Tiramisu! Fortunately, I came across the idea of Tiramisu Cupcakes (before I had a chance to drive down to a bakery to get my Tiramisu fix)! What a genius idea, right?! So, in the kitchen I went….
Instead of just regular Tiramisu cupcakes, I kicked it up a notch with a little more flavor, my favorite MOCHA! Chocolate and coffee/espresso were just perfect for each other. Since I filled up my inventory in Valrhona Cocoa Powder on my last trip to Whole Foods, I just couldn’t resist not to add it to my recipe! :P They were really chocolaty and addictive! After you’ve tried Valhona’s Cocoa Powder, you’ll not go back to any other brand. At least, that’s the case for me. It’s a little bit more pricey, but totally worth every penny. (By the way, I’m not compensated in anyway for saying these—although I wished they would pay me in chocolate/cocoa powder. hahaha….These are just my own opinions.)
With Tiramisu in cupcake forms, it’s a perfect way to portion control! Yes, I needed serious controls over these Mocha Tiramisu Cupcakes. The cake itself was moist, with a lovely mocha flavor and a hint of Kahlua. The syrup really did wonders to the cupcakes. The Mascarpone frosting was light, creamy, smooth and fluffy. Just like eating clouds….clouds that were packed with Tiramisu flavor. If you love Tiramisu, you’ve got to try this recipe out. It’s much easier than making the traditional Tiramisu. At least I didn’t have to drive around to find the ladyfingers. There’s no dipping or layering involved. But the end results were as stunning and delicious as the traditional ones.
Hm…nom nom nom….
Need I say more?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Not sure if you’ve noticed, many of my savory dishes includes Onion. Onion is such a good aromatic ingredient in many dishes. It enhances and accentuates the over all flavor of the dish without over powering other ingredients. In many dishes, the onion functions as the aromatic ingredient. However, onion is the star of this Caramelized Onion, Roast Beef and Goat Cheese Focaccia. I especially adore caramelized onions. How can I not? They are naturally sweet and the caramelized flavor is wonderful.
I’m glad that both of my kids love onions as much as I do. When I was serving these Caramelized Onion, Roast Beef and Goat Cheese Focaccia the other day, my three and a half year old son ate the whole piece all by himself. Then, he requested for more caramelized onions! Just the onions! :) I couldn’t help but smiled and gave him more onions. After all, he has a very sophisticated palate, and I know exactly where he got his genes! LOL
As promised from the previous post. Here’s the “dressed up” version of the herbed Focaccia. These Caramelized Onion, Roast Beef and Goat Cheese Focaccia are easy to make, and certainly elegant enough to serve at parties or gatherings as appetizers. Yet, they are just simple, everyday ingredients. Don’t you love that? If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, you can substitute that with your favorite type of creamy cheese. You can also substitute the roasted beef with smoked turkey or any other kind of meat that you preferred. Just make sure to be generous when you pile the caramelized onion on top and you’ll have a treat!
This recipe is an entry for April’s Kitchen Play sponsored by the National Onion Association. This Caramelized Onion, Roast Beef and Goat Cheese Focaccia is inspired by the Beer-Braised Spring Onion and Herbed Goat Cheese Crostini. Since my husband and I are not Beer drinkers, we don’t have any beer in the fridge. But, I do have many bottles of red and white wine! :) So, I used some dry white wine to deglazed the pan when I sautéed the onion. With a few springs of fresh chopped thymes, these caramelized onion turned out succulent, flavorful and amazing with it’s natural sweetness.
For more information about the Kitchen Play contest, please review the complete contest rules.
Friday, April 15, 2011
A few weeks ago, I’ve planted my new herbs, just in time for Spring. Unlike last time around, I planted them in a rectangular pot (less crowded) and placed them right outside my kitchen window to get some sunlight. There are thyme, oregano, tarragon and mint in this pot. I have some rosemary in a separate pot (the only survivor from my last herb planting). It’s soothing to see the greens while looking outside my kitchen window. I’ve been using the herbs a lot lately and this Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano Focaccia is one of the creations using my favorite herbs.
I made these Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano Focaccia in my trusty bread machine to save time in kneading. If you don’t have a bread machine, no worries, I included the instructions without a bread machine for this recipe! This is a really easy flat bread recipe and you can’t really mess it up. I used some good quality organic extra virgin olive oil in this bread. The olive oil adds a lovely fruity flavor to the bread, it also makes the bread fluffy on the inside and crusty on the outside. The fresh rosemary gives the bread a piney and woodsy scent; the thyme is lemony and refreshing, and the oregano adds a depth of sweetness. I especially love the golden brown crust on this bread! Hm…wash it all down with a glass of iced tea and I call it a perfect afternoon pick me up. This is one way to enjoy this Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano Focaccia. I’ll show you in a different post on how to dress it up, and make a perfect appetizer, brunch or light supper out of this wonderful Focaccia. Stay tuned.
***If you haven’t enter the two leaves and a bud’s Complete Tea Samplers Giveaway, please click here to enter.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated, placed a bid, and/or helped spread the words on the Virtual Bake Sale that benefits the Japan Earthquake victims. We raised a total of $8269 in just one day, for all the baked goods sold in the auction. So, thank you everyone! For the rest of the details about the bake sale, please visit The Tomato Tart’s blog.
On Monday, I shipped out two dozens of these Triple Chocolate Almond Cookies to the action winner. The cookies should arrive today, I hope they stay intact in this lovely cookie tin.
This is such a beautiful cookie tin, just perfect for two dozens cookies. Baked with love, from my kitchen to yours. I packed some heart shape printed napkins on top of the cookies inside the tin so the cookies won’t move around during shipping. Plus, the recipients can have some napkins to use while enjoying the cookies.
I hope the winner and her family would enjoy these cookies as much as my family does. Thank you again!
Sunday, April 10, 2011
There is no doubt that Spring is here and Summer is approaching fast. At least, that’s how it feels in Southern California. With the temperature rising, I crave for cool treats in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. However, I’m kind of watching my waist line (if there’s one) because I want to get ready for the bikini season. Hahaha…who am I kidding!? Let me rephrase it. I guess I just don’t want to look too over-weight when I have to wear short sleeves. Fact: I’ve never put on my bikinis after having my kids. I don't dare to look at, or imagine, the “before and after” pictures. Yike…Hopefully, someday in the future, my bikini collection will see the sunlights again!
Who said healthy snacks can’t be tasty? After today, I hope you’ll change your mind on that. At least, my family and I did. These Homemade Granola not only are super duper easy to make, they are to die for. I love the flaky and crunchy texture of the toasted coconut, oats and almonds. The honey adds a lovely sweet tone, but not overly sweet. The vanilla extract accentuate these granolas with a lovely sweet aroma. When these granolas are baking, your whole house would smell sweet and wonderful. I say, it’s even better than breads or cookies baking in the oven! You’ve got to give it a try to find out.
In this recipe, I added the Homemade Granola on the bottom of the mini martini glasses. Top with fresh raspberries and strawberry yogurts, and of course, MORE granolas on top! This granola is also a wonderful topping for ice cream, gelato or sorbet. Simply add them to your favorite bowl of cereal or oatmeal would take your morning breakfast to a whole new level. They are definitely perfect with any cool treat! But before you add them onto anything, try to refrain yourself from eating the whole batch right out of then oven! Yes, they are really that good! :)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
I’m a meat lover and don’t think I can ever convert to a vegetarian. However, I also love vegetables to a point that I got to have vegetables everyday (although not every single meal). Each week, there would be a day (maybe two in the future) that I prepare meatless dishes only and this is one of the vegetarian dish that I make most often for this special day of the week.
Why a meatless day for a carnivore? I guess my body is telling me I need to “detox”! After consuming all the meats for a week, my body longs for a dish that is light and easy to digest. During the summer, I often make salads. (You can find some of my salad recipes here, here and here.) But for winter or cooler days, it’s better to have a hot and hearty dish. This Vegetarian Chop-Suey dish fits the bill. Want to know why it is semi-home made? You’ll see why as you read along.
First, we need some vegetarian protein sticks. What a funny name, huh?! They are actually dried soybean curd. They are convenience to use, nutritious and has a great texture. You can find them in most Asian supermarkets.
Soak them in hot tap water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and gently squeeze out excess water and they’re ready to be used for the stir fry. During the cooking process, these Vegetarian Protein Sticks will absorb quite a bit of the sauce. So, they turn out to be very flavorful and delicious.
Up next, some beautiful baby Bak Choy. I always love the baby version as they’re more tender. Wash and drain them well. I cut some of the bigger ones in half, vertically, so all of them cook evenly.
What make this dish so hearty? The star ingredient is King Trumpet Mushroom. The nick name for these mushroom in Chinese is “chicken drumsticks mushroom” or “abalone mushroom”. It is because of their shape resemblances the drumsticks, and their texture is similar to the abalone. These mushrooms are super meaty and add so much texture to the dish.
Simply julienne them into thin strips and they are ready to go. Of course, thin strips mean faster cooking time too.
Up next, the sweet yellow onions. Simply thinly sliced them and sautéed them until crisp-tender. They add a wonderful tender-crisp texture and sweet flavor to this dish.
Last but not least, the secret ingredient to make this dish 'semi-home made' (and my life much easier) is a can of vegetarian chop-suey (羅漢齋). I buy these cans all the time and never pay attention to the English name until now. :) The term chop-suey literally means the mixture of many chopped ingredients. Which is exactly what’s in this can. There are bamboo shoots, straw mushrooms, fried gluten, carrots, fried tofu, fungus, baby corn, soy sauce, salt and sugar, etc. It’s fully seasoned and the sauce in this can is delicious. You don’t need to add much to the rest of your ingredients except white pepper and sesame oil.
I’m seriously considering having 2 meatless days a week instead of just 1. With a dish so healthy and so easy to make, why not? The most important thing is, you’ll feel GOOD after eating it. I can guarantee that you won’t even miss the meat (for that day, at least). Try this recipe out, your body will thank you afterwards.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Those who know me well should know that I’m a tea lover. Many of my afternoon treats go perfectly with a cup of tea. However, I still love my French Roasted, rather strong coffee in the morning. That’s about the only thing that can really wakes me up (besides my baby' girl’s crying). But throughout the day and especially around tea time, I really prefer a cup of hot tea. Until I tried the tea sachets from two leaves and a bud, I didn’t know what I’ve been missing. Their organic tea tastes like nothing I’ve ever had before. They are rich, complex, fragrant, and simply unforgettable.
Two leaves and a bud sent me a box of Complete Sachet Sampler to try (see above picture). It contains one of each two leaves and a bud tea, a total of 18 sachets. It’s a genius way to try out which flavor you love most before you place an order for a specific flavor. I think it’ll also make a great gift for a tea lover and the like. The only issue I have is that it’s impossible to pick just one favorite. All of them are unique and flavorful in its own way. For instance, take a look at the Organic Chamomile sachet picture below. Do you see those generous amount of delicious little flower in one sachet? I couldn’t resist but to sniff it right after I opened the package. The sweet scent came right through along with a rich apple scent. It’s the best chamomile tea I’ve ever had, by far. Besides the sweet floral and apple scent, it came with a hint of honey taste as well. I sure did enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with a cup of hot Organic Chamomile tea in my hands.
If you’re new to tea drinking and don’t know much about tea, hop on to two leaves and a bud’s website to learn more. They are truly passionate about tea and focus on providing their customers with the best quality of products. There are simple instructions on how to brew each tea and there’s a knowledge center link on the site. However, if you’re lazy like me and don’t like to read too much, no big deal. The brewing instructions are printed on each sachet! See the package below, suggestion brew time is 4 minutes, this Organic Chamomile is caffeine free, and the water temperature for brewing should be a full boil. Informative, right? Plus, there’s a list of ingredients on each package as well. Don’t you love that? Last but not least, the tea sachet and sleeve are biodegradable too!
Up next, I tried the Organic Orange Sencha. I love green tea and this particular one is delicately blended with Italian red orange that gives it a hint of citrus flavor. It really did perk up my taste buds and my spirit.
Another beautiful sachet is the Organic Pomi-Berry (see picture below). Do you see the lovely chamomile and forest berries in it? When you can see the whole tea leaves, petals and herbs inside the sachet, you know these are quality ingredients. I love it, especially, you can make iced-tea from the Pomi-Berry. Yes, you heard me right, iced-tea. So perfect for spring and summer.
It’s naturally sweet with a lovely berry flavor that isn’t too herbal. You can add a little bit of sugar or agave to sweeten it up. For me, they are perfect as it is with its natural sweetness. Look at the vibrant color. So festive to serve at any parties or celebrations. It’s refreshing, slightly tangy and smooth.
I only named a few and the rest of the sachets are just as wonderful.
***This giveaway is closed. The winners will be announced shortly.***
Moving on to the giveaways. Two leaves and a bud is so generous. They are giving out 2 Complete Sachet Samplers to 2 lucky uTry.it readers. Here are the rules on how to enter the giveaway. This giveaway is open to anyone with an U.S. mailing address. It will be closed on May 2, 2011, PST midnight. The winners will be announced within 1 week after the giveaway is closed. Please include your email address on your first entry/comment so I can contact you if you are one of the lucky winners. (For example: amy [at] utry [dot] it) There are 8 ways to enter this giveaway.
1) Mandatory entry: Please visit two leaves and a bud’s website, browse around and let me know which tea you would love to try and leave a comment on this post. (gets 1 entry)
Optional entries (feel free to do any or all of the following to get extra entries):
2) Follow two leaves and a bud on Facebook (gets 2 entries) and tell me in the comment section that you did. Leave a separate comment for each entry. Sample comments: “I am following two leaves and a bud on Facebook, entry #1” ; “I am following two leaves and a bud on Facebook, entry #2”
3) Sign up T-mail on two leaves and a bud’s website (gets 2 entries) and tell me in the comment section that you did. Leave a separate comment for each entry. (See sample comments above.)
4) Sign up as an uTry.it follower and leave a comment to let me know that you did. If you’re already my follower, thank you for your supports and leave me a comment to let me know you’ve already signed up. (gets 1 entry)
5) Subscribe to my RSS feed so you won’t miss out on future giveaways, and leave a comment to let me know that you did. (gets 1 entry)
6) “Like” uTry.it on Facebook and leave a comment to let me know that you did. (gets 1 entry)
7) Share this giveaway on Facebook with your friends including a link back to this post, come back and leave a comment to let me know that you did. (gets 1 entry)
8) Write a blog post about this giveaway, come back and let me know that you did (gets 2 entries). Please leave a separate comment for each entry. (see # 2 above for sample comments)
If you can’t wait to try two leaves and a bud’s wonderful tea, here’s another good news for you. Two leave and a bud is offering the first 25 uTry.it readers a 20% off on your entire online purchase! Just use the promotional code UTRYIT2011 at check out. (Please note that the promotional code cannot be combined with other promotions on their site) What are you waiting for? Hop over to two leaves and a bud and try them today. You’ll be glad that you did.
Thank you for stopping by today and have a wonderful weekend. Cheers (raising my tea cup)!
*Disclaimer: I received the free samples for the purpose of this review and I am not compensated in any way to write this post. All comments and opinions are 100% my own.
This post is linked to:
Hearth and Soul Hop