Monday, December 31, 2012

Triple Chocolate Pavlova—And a Happy New Year!


Can you believe 2012 is really coming to an end?  Seriously, I can’t believe time flies by so quickly either.  There’s a Chinese saying that it couldn’t be more true, “you lost track of the time when you’re having fun!”  (快樂不知時日過) I’ve had a very fun, yet busy December, especially when the kids were off from school for their Winter breaks.  It’s always nice to spend more time with them though.

A while ago, I shared with you the Triple Berry Mini Pavlova.  Since not everyone likes berries as much as my kids do in our house, I’ve created these Triple Chocolate Pavlova so everyone can indulge in some decadent desserts this New Year. 


I adore Pavlova!  It’s decadent, looks grand on a plate, but super easy to prepare.  I love the different layers of textures in one single dessert.  Crunchy meringue cookie on the bottom that’s super chocolate-y, top with a layer of smooth and creamy whipped cream with a hint of vanilla, then drizzled with the warm and decadent chocolate sauce and finally, sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  Best of all, you can have all the components ready a day in advance and simply put them together when you’re ready to serve.  

107edited This Triple Chocolate Pavlova is the best way to ring in the New Year or as a sweet ending to your New Year’s dinner.  Give this a try and I’m sure you’ll be in love as well.  I think I might like this Chocolate version a bit more than the traditional Pavlova too.


I hope you all had a wonderful 2012.  Wish you and your loved ones a healthy and prosperous 2013!  Cheers!

New Year

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishing You All a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!


Last weekend, we took the kids to Big Bear Mountain to experience an early White Christmas.  The kids had been asking to see the snow since July!  I’m so glad that the weather didn’t disappoint us. 


If you’re living rather closed by, the Big Bear Lake area is a great place to visit to ski, play the tire sled, or just to hang out and enjoy the lovely views.  It was a good two hours drive for us from our place and totally worth it.  You might want to have the snow chains for your tires ready before you go though.  One the day we went, there were check-points half way up the hills to make sure you’ve got the snow chains on before you can go any further.  Some helpful workers were there on stand-by to help you put on the snow chains with a fee, that is if you already have the chains.


It was our kids’ first time to play in the snow and they loved it.  They couldn’t help themselves but to fall into the fluffy and powdery snow on purpose.  They are so much fun to watch.  Just make sure to dress warmly when you visit.  That’s all.


It felt a lot cooler than 28 degree F though, especially in the snow!


We made it a day trip and left the area right before Sunset.  Seems like everyone was leaving at around the same time.  But it was no big deal in getting stuck a little in traffic.  It was such a nice view on the way down the hill as well.


This weekend, we took the kids to Disneyland trying to take more Christmas pictures.  Well, I guess I won’t be back next year around this time of the year and you’ll see why from the picture below. 


It was a different kind of traffic jam!  We could hardly take any decent pictures with the kids.  Oh well.  But it was nice to see the spectacular Christmas decorations of the castles and beautiful fire works.


Thank you for stopping by today!  Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Frozen Raspberry Sparkle


This Frozen Raspberry Sparkle is the official Holiday cocktail in my house.  You’ve guessed it right!  Yes, I am the one who made it official.  Why not?  I’m sure we all can use a cocktail in between all these crazy holiday shopping and baking chaos.  Besides, it’s a festive and beautiful drink that you can serve during the holiday gatherings.  Best of all, it’s super easy to prepare.


I love the frosted look of these frozen raspberries.  They are just so pretty to look at.  I freeze up some extras and they made a wonderful snack on their own.  Plus a few of them in your drink will keep your cocktail nice and chilled without diluting your drink with the ice.  Pretty cool, huh? 


I can’t believe Christmas will be here in less than a week!  So, how far are you with the holiday shopping and preparation?  Are you all prepared, almost done, half way through, or haven’t even started yet?  I think I belong to the 'almost done' group, I guess.  I would love to hear from you.


Please drink responsibly.  Health and General Disclaimers.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

OXO Mini Measuring Beaker Set and the Good Cookie Spatula Giveaway Winner


Thank you all who entered the OXO Mini Measuring Beaker Set and the Good Cookie Spatula giveaway.  The lucky winner is…..

Lubna Karim who said “Those are sweet and cute looking them....My favorite holiday cookie would be Osmani one...which is specialty of my native Hyderabad, India....”

Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch shortly. 


Stay tuned for more fun giveaway.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Shopping and Promotion from Fekkai

I can’t believe there are less than ten days before Christmas! It’s been busy and hectic for me in the last couple of weeks. With holiday shopping, baking orders, activities with kids, etc. I hardly get some time to rest and relax.

So the big question is. Are you almost done with your Holiday shopping? I guess I’m 80% done, but I still got a few online orders that I’ve placed and still waiting for them to arrive. If you are “still in progress” on your Holiday shopping, or have someone who has everything and you’re not too sure of what to get them, I have a great news for you and some suggestions.


Fekkai is having a wonderful Holiday Promotion. You’ll receive 10% off your total order and a complimentary exclusive holiday headband with $50 purchase (while supplies last) Use Promo Code: HEADBAND (please see picture below). Here’s the link to their site if you need more information.


Isn’t the headband gorgeous? I’m sure that it would be a nice hair accessory when you attend your holiday party. ;) Or, it could be a wonderful stocking stuffer as well.

According to their website, Frédéric Fekkai collection was developed to meet the particular needs of different hair types.  In addition to providing exceptional professional results, Fekkai’s products feature luxurious textures and invigorating scents. The hair care line is divided into regimen “families”, including: Advanced Care, Color Care, Curl Care Glossing, Repair, Styling and Styling Tools. Before his products are marketed to the public, Frédéric and his staff personally test every formula in his world-renowned Frédéric Fekkai Salon to ensure the highest quality and performance.

That gorgeous headband and the discount definitely made my purchasing decision a lot easier. I hope you’ll give their products a try as well.

Stay tuned for a Holiday Cocktail recipe on my next post. Until then, Happy Shopping.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It Starts to Feel Like Christmas!


Last night, we finally put the Christmas tree up.  Yay!  It really starts to feel more like Christmas when the tree is up; the festive lights are on and the presents piling high under the tree.  I thought we have the tree up a bit later than last year.  But guess what, it was about the same day as last year!  I couldn’t believe it until I went back to read last year’s post.


My Little Gentleman and Baby Girl helped in decorating the tree.  If you remember the post from last year, my Baby Girl still needed help in hanging the ornaments.  This year, she insisted to do it all on her own.  I have to say, they both did a wonderful job.  Won’t you agree?  My kids are really growing up. 


Here’s the “night view” of the tree.  Have you put up your tree yet?  If not, I think it’s about time. 


Friendly Reminder:  If you haven’t enter the OXO giveaway, here’s the link.  Deadline to enter is December 18th, 2012.  Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and a Giveaway


Do good things come in small packages?  Oh yeah.  I couldn’t agree more.  Although I’m short, but no, I’m not talking about myself.  As I was searching for more cookie ideas to bake for this holiday season, I was munching on these Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies that I’ve just made.  They are tiny one-bite cookies that are packed with wonderful flavors with different texture in each layer.  But honestly, I can’t quite focus on searching for other cookies while indulging these Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies as the same time.  With a glass of milk, I wanted to take a nap instead of doing my “research”!  What a tough job that I have here.


Recently, I’ve received the OXO Mini Measuring Beaker Set and the Good Cookie Spatula (see pictures below) from the nice people at OXO.  They are nice not just because they sent me these awesome products to try out; but they are folks who also care about others who are in need.  Have you heard of the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer?  It’s a non-profit organization that focuses on helping kids with cancer to get the funding for better treatments.  Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was founded by OXOnians (OXO employees).  OXO encourages bloggers, bakers, and the like to participate in the Bake a Difference project.  For every donation or bake sale registered at that mentions OXO, they will match the funds up to $100,000! For more information, here’s the Cookie for Kids’ Cancer website.


So, what are you waiting for?  Spread the words and host a bake sale.  I think it’s a nice gesture to give back a little this Holiday season. 


I’ve always been a big fan for OXO’s products and designs.  This Mini Measuring Beaker Set didn’t disappoint me at all!  It’s so easy to measure small amount of ingredients, and I won’t spill them all over the place any more (especially when the mixer running, with one hand trying to pour the ingredient into the running machine, and the other hand holding the heavy camera trying to take a picture at the same time!)  You know this is how I roll when taking my pictorial pictures.  See, I’ve told you I have a tough job. Smile  


The picture below shows the marshmallow already piped onto the cookies before dipping into the chocolate.  The marshmallow “kisses” are soft, light, and fluffy; sitting on top of the crunchy and crumbly cookies. hm…..    


After the mallow-topped cookies are dipped into the semi-sweet melted chocolate, they became perfect.  Perfectly addictive.  The semi-sweet chocolate coating gives these cookies a wonderful chocolaty flavor and a slight crunch when bite into them. 


What’s even better than these Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies?  How about a Giveaway?  Sounds great?  Here are the details of the giveaway. 

One reader (with an U.S. mailing address, no P.O Box please) will win an OXO Mini Measuring Beaker Set and the Good Cookie Spatula, courtesy of OXO.  (I’ve told you they are nice people Winking smile

This Giveaway is now closed.  Winner will be announced shortly.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post to let me know what is your favorite Holiday cookie to make?  Dead line to enter is December 18, 2012 by mid-night PST.  Winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and announced shortly after the giveaway is closed.  So, please make sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you won.   

Want extra chances to win?  Simply do any, or all, of the following (optional).  Just leave a separate comment of each action that you do.
1) Add to your Google+ circle.  (See sidebar to the right)
2) “Like”’s Facebook page.  Here’s the link.
3) “Like” OXO’s Facebook page.  Here’s the link.
4) Follow on Twitter.  Here’s the link.
5) Follow OXO on Twitter.  Here’s the link.
6) Follow on Pinterest.  Here’s the link.
7) Subscribe via email or RSS feed. (See sidebar to the right)

Good luck everyone and have fun baking!


Disclaimer:  I received an OXO Mini Measuring Beaker Set and a Good Cookie Spatula free of charge and I was not compensated in any other way.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review, or a review at all.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mini Apple Cranberry Pies


My kids and I love apple pies.  But I don’t usually make them often at home.  You might ask why, right?  Well, that’s because most of the traditional apple pie recipes out there are pretty time consuming.  Making the pie dough, chilling it, rolling it out, blind baking the pie crust, then chopping and cooking the filling before we can move on to baking, etc, etc, etc.  I get tired just to type these steps out.  This fried version might seems easier and oh so tempting!  Too tempting, actually!  But then I seldom make fry food in my house and you know why.  No?  Here’s why: I guess I love fried food so much it’s just too dangerous to have that pot of oil ready for frying.  I will probably be deep frying everything edible from the kitchen! 


Then, these Mini Apple Cranberry Pies were created because I was in a hurry for some treats; And to satisfy that major craving for the crispy outside, warm and gooey inside type of apple pie!  What is even better?  I added some dried cranberries inside.  They absorbed the extra juices that released from the apples and added a slightly sweet and tart flavors to these mini beauties.  They are super duper easy to make too. 


Come with me to the kitchen to see how they are prepared.

1) Chopped the apples, add the lemon juice, cranberries, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt and sugar and let it hang out.

2) Roll out the puff pastry into 12 by 16-inches rectangle, then cut into 12 (4-inch) squares.

3) Slightly spray the inside of the muffin pan with non-stick spray, place one piece of dough into each cavity.  Spoon the apple mixture onto each dough and bring the four corners to the middle.  Slightly pinch the dough to deal it.

4) Brush some egg wash on top and bake away.


Super easy right?  I think they are dangerously easy.  Please don’t ask me how many I had when they came out of the oven!  I won’t tell.  The crust of these Mini Apple Cranberry Pies is flaky, light and buttery; the apple cranberry filling is warm, gooey, tender and juicy.  It’s slightly sweet and tart at the same time with a hint of cinnamon.  A perfect fall/winter treat, in my opinion.  Bring these to your next holiday gatherings and you’ll be the star!


If you’re feeling fancy, serve these with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I skipped both this time and serve them with a cup of hot tea instead which was just as wonderful.

I hope you all enjoyed today’s recipe. Stay tuned for some cool Giveaways on the next post.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

GW Fins, New Orleans—Restaurant Review


This post concludes our short adventure in New Orleans.  “Saving the best for last” is the perfect way to describe our dining experience at GW Fins.  It was the best meal we had in New Orleans.  So, if you’re visiting this vibrant city, you’ve got to do yourself a favor and make a reservation there.  The food was wonderful and the server was very friendly and took a few pictures for us.

511editedPerfect Pear—Absolute Pear, Champagne, Z-Rated Passion Fruit Liquor

I started off with this lovely cocktail and my hubby had a glass of red.  I love this Perfect Pear, light, crisp and refreshing.  Perfect way to start the evening. 

520editedBiscuit served with softened butter

Then we were offered this delightful biscuits.  Golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside; tender and moist inside.  I’m not even a biscuit kind of girl but I really enjoyed this one.

527editedSeafood Gumbo—Dark roux, shrimp, oysters, crab long grain rice
The server brought the plate with a scoop of rice and the gumbo to the table separately.

531editedSeafood Gumbo—Dark roux, shrimp, oysters, crab long grain rice

Then, he poured the gumbo into the bowl right in front of us.  I could smell the lovely aroma from the gumbo when it hits the bowl.  The seafood was fresh, the dark roux was very flavorful and complex.  Now, I know how a good gumbo should taste like! 

533editedCrispy Fried Split Main Lobster Tail—Rémoulade Slaw
This crispy lobster tail was perfectly seasoned.  The batter was light and crisp, the lobster was juicy and succulent.


Yup, that’s me getting ready to bite into the lobster tail….poor lobster.  Smile with tongue out The only “complain" I had for this appetizer was that it was all gone in a few bites.  I think I can sit there and eat 1/2 a dozen of them.

553editedBouillabaisse—Scallops, Shrimp, White fish, Mussels, Clams, Main lobster, rich saffron broth

My hubby ordered the Bouillabaisse.  It was a very generous portion that includes  1/2 a lobster and other seafood with the order.  The broth was very fragrant because of the saffron and all the seafood were seasoned and cooked perfectly.  It came with a slice of bread, perfect for soaking up all those succulent broth.  My hubby licked the plate clean.  Shhh…..I promise I won’t tell.     

559editedParmesan Crusted Drum—Jumbo Lump Crab, Meyer Lemon, Asparagus, Crispy capers, Brown Butter
I ordered the Drum.  The Parmesan crust gave this fish fillet a flavorful and very crispy crust.  The fish was moist and perfectly cooked.  The jumbo lump crab was sweet and juicy which contrast really well with the crispy fish.

575editedMolten Chocolate Cake—Served with vanilla ice cream
Last but not least, we shared the Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert.  That was the perfect way to add a sweet ending to any meal.  The chocolate cake was moist and decadent.  The chocolate was rich and dark.  When you cut it open, the warm chocolate “lava” rushed right out.  Need I say more?

For more information about this restaurant, visit their website below.

GW Fins New Orleans
808 Bienville Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
Phone:  504-581-3467 (FINS)

Restaurant Review Disclaimer: This restaurant review was solely based on our dining experience.  I was not compensated in any way to dine at this restaurant nor to a write review.