Monday, April 30, 2012

Winner Announcement--Barilla Whole Grain Pasta $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway


Thanks to those who entered the Barilla Whole Grain Pasta giveaway.  The prize was $100 Amazon Gift Card (code).

The sweepstake was being administered by BlogHer and the winner was selected at random.  The winning number was #142.  Congratulations to MCantu1019.  A notification email was sent to the winner.  Thank you all for participating in this giveaway.  We will have more fun giveaways in the future for sure.  Stay tuned.  Smile

Friday, April 27, 2012

Meyer Lemon Meringue Tartlets—For Mother’s Day


Mother’s day is just around the corner.  How are you going to celebrate?  It’s one of the most popular holiday for dining out as we all wanted to give Mothers/Grandmothers a break from the kitchen.  As a mother myself (and the cook in the house), I will probably be cooking at home though, just to beat the crowds.  Good thing is that I don’t mind at all.  In fact, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, especially baking.  I found it therapeutic (yeah, you can call me a weirdo for this one!)  I guess it’s the measuring and focusing that allow my mind to wonder off to a place that is far far away…to a dream land, perhaps.  In this case, a dream land filled with Meyer lemon goodness and cloud-like meringue softness.


These Meyer Lemon Meringue Tartlets were amazing.  The slightly golden brown crusts were flaky and buttery.  They were the perfect vessels for the creamy, silky, tart and sweet Meyer Lemon Curd in the middle; top off with slightly sweetened meringue that’s perfectly caramelized on the edges, soft and tender on the inside.  It melted in my mouth without a trace when I bit into one.  Doesn’t that sound like a dream on it’s own?  Yeah, I’ve been dreaming to create these tartlets for a while until I finally got a chance to to so.  Wait, am I the only one who dream about making food and creating recipes?  Please tell me I’m not alone!  Smile


I think these Meyer Lemon Meringue Tartlets would be the perfect desserts to end a Mother’s Day meal, or any meal, period.  Guess what?  I haven’t plan the rest of the Mother’s Day menu besides this dessert.  That’s totally how things roll here.  Smile Who doesn’t like to talk about desserts first? 


As you all know, I love recipes that can be made ahead, at least partially, especially for gatherings.  This Meyer Lemon Meringue Tartlets is one of those recipes.  I actually pre-baked the crust and made a batch of the Meyer Lemon Curd (fillings) the day before I plan to serve them.  The meringue on top has to be whipped up on the day of the party though.  Otherwise, it’ll get a little separated.  Good thing is, your guests will have fun trying to use the blow torch to caramelize these babies for you!  Yup, you heard me right, you get to play with fire use the blow torch in this recipe.  But if you don’t have one, don’t worry, you can still caramelized the meringue in the oven.  But that just doesn’t sound as much fun though.  Smile with tongue out


I’ll be posting other recipes to complete the menu for Mother’s Day.  Stay tuned.  Oh well, if I couldn’t post them all in time, I can always have those recipes for Father’s Day.  Winking smile 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day Recap


We had a wonderful afternoon at the park on Earth Day (yesterday).  We arrived at a nearby park, had a feast (as usual, more so when my hubby is involved), and spent the next hour or two on slides, swings, monkey barring, running, jumping, laughing, clicking (on my camera), yawning (when we were ready to leave), etc.  It was so much fun.

Of course, I packed my own food for a lunch picnic, as shown in the picture below.  But what I really wanted to share with you today are these amazing drinking jars!  I got them on Amazon a while ago and I’ve been using them for both hot and cold drinks.  Best of all, they travel really well because I can just screw the mason jar caps on and they’re good to go.  No spilling what-so-ever!  As the picnic season approach, I can see myself using these jars more often.  As a side note, yes, the Meyer Lemonade with Strawberries was mine and the plain one was my husband’s (if you don’t already know... he doesn’t like strawberries).  Smile with tongue out


In case if you’re wondering what’s in the yellow container (in the picture above), that’s my greenest (although it doesn’t look that green) Chicken Salad.  It has rotisserie chicken, green grapes, green olives and green onions in it.  They were so good on my homemade loaf bread, and also amazing on the pretzel crisps!  Yeah, I purchased extra pretzel crisps so I have plenty to work on my recipe contest.  They make a great snack as well.  Speaking of recipe contest, thanks to those of you who voted for me.  Your help is greatly appreciated.  Today will be the last day of voting.  Can’t wait to find out who won!  Smile   In case if you haven’t vote today, here’s the link again

P.S.:  If any of you is interested in the Greenest But Not So Green Chicken Salad recipe, just let me know in the comment and I’ll post it in the future.  Have a wonderful week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Strawberry Meyer Lemonade Spritzer—Kids Friendly


Just a quick post to show you another refreshing summery drink that I’ve been enjoying.  I know it’s only Spring in Southern California but the temperature is definitely not Spring.  80+ degree F in the mid-afternoon?  I need something to cool myself down before I catch on fire!  I’m such a lucky girl to always have a basket full of Meyer lemons (special delivered by my In-Laws, thank you!) waiting for me to create refreshing treats and drinks. 

Meyer Lemons

This Strawberry Meyer Lemonade Spritzer is a twist from the classic strawberry-lemonade that I love from the Cheesecake Factory. I love the sweet, tart and fragrant strawberries in the classic recipe. The slightly floral aroma from the Meyer lemon is a delightful addition to this spritzer. Another twist was that I used sparkling mineral water instead of just water to add the sparkling effect. This drink is totally kids and grown-up friendly. Smile


My kids love hanging out and having picnics in the park, this drink would definitely be our favorite for the picnic lunch.  Do you know April 22nd is Earth Day?  Let's all celebrate by having a picnic this weekend.  And don't forget to bring your Strawberry Meyer Lemonade Spritzer with you to the picnic.  Smile 

Thank you for stopping by today.  Wish you all a happy weekend!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pastrami and Muenster Cheese Blossom Buns using Tang Zhong Method (湯種法)—With Video Tutorial


I used to love my bread machine, yup, used to!  Technically, it’s my husband’s bread machine.  He already had it when I met him.  So, this machines is 10+ years old!  (Oh, and I still love my husband very very much, in case if you wonder! Open-mouthed smile)  I only used the bread machine to knead the dough for my loaf breads and buns and selfdom use it to bake a loaf from start to finish.  That is because I like to shape the loaf bread myself such as this.  Its very convenience to have the machine because it saves me 15 to 20 minutes of kneading time.  About a month ago, the results of my bread began to varies.  Sometimes they came out wonderful, sometimes they came out awful, and sometimes the dough didn't rise properly.  My husband blamed it on the change of weather!  hahaha….See how cute he is?


On the other hand, I was thinking it could be the problem of the yeast since it’s a new bag that I had just purchased.  So, I did a simple test on the yeast by putting a small amount of yeast in a bowl of warm water along with some sugar.  A little bit to my surprise, it bubbled up nicely in a few minutes.  So, the yeast was alive!  I guess I was kind of hoping it was the problem of the yeast and not the machine because it’s definitely easier (and cheaper) to get a new bag of yeast than a bread machine!  But after the yeast test, I pretty much confirmed it’s the problem of the bread machine!  What am I going to do?  I didn’t want to knead the dough by hand!  And my family is not going to stop eating bread any time soon either.  Luckily, I have my trusty stand mixer to turn to!  Open-mouthed smile


Needless to say, my dough came out nice and pretty.  In fact, much nicer than it was from the bread machine!  So, I’ve been making my bread dough from the mixer since a month ago and couldn’t be happier with the consistent results.  Turn out, there were a few times the bread machines didn’t knead the dough enough for the gluten to develop and the dough came out wrinkle like this instead of smooth and shiny. 


I was in the market to purchase a new bread machine at the beginning.  But after a few batches of beautiful breads using the dough kneaded by the stand mixer, I decided I don’t need a bread machine (at least for now)!  Yay….I can free up some pantry space to store more______(fill in the blanks for whatever you think they might be, hahaha…)


Back to these Pastrami and Muenster Cheese Blossom Buns.  They are beautiful and delightful.  I used the same Tang Zhong bread dough as the base so the buns are soft and fluffy.  I love the combination of smoky flavor in the pastrami along with the mild and smooth muenster cheese.  You can substitute the pastrami with ham, turkey or any kind of sliced meat from the deli and match with your favorite cheese in this recipe.  The picture below shows you the inside of the bun.  Yup, light and fluffy.  And best of all, you get a piece of pastrami and cheese in every bite because of the way I shaped the buns.


Before you go, don’t miss the video tutorial on how to shape these Pastrami and Muenster Cheese Blossom Buns.  They are very simple and easy to make.  Enjoy.

Last but not least, I'm submitting this post to Yeast Spotting!  Check them out and be ready to drool a little!  :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pretzel Crisps Recipe Contest and Voting

I guess by now, you all know I love to participate in recipe contests.  Smile Yes, they are so much fun and best of all, they provide financial contributions to my family.  Here’s my latest recipe entries for the Pretzel Crisps contest. 

I’m so thrilled that 3 of my entries have became the finalists of 3 different categories.  I need your help in winning this contest because the finalists with the most votes will be crowned as winners and $1000 is at stake in each category.  I would truly appreciate that if you can take a few minutes to cast me some votes.  Voting period just started today and will end on 4/23/2012.  You can vote once a day in each category. 

Voting is simple, go to Pretzel Crisps’ Facebook Page with this link:
”Like” their page and click onto each category to vote.

Here are my entries:

Pretzel Crisps Bacon and Egg Salad Bites

In the Bacon Category:  Bacon and Egg Salad Bites


Meat Lovers Pretzel Bites

In the Meat Category: Meat Lover's Dream


Healthy and Hearty Creamy Veggie Dip

In the Veggie Category: Healthy and Hearty Creamy Veggie Dip

Remember, you can vote once a day with any unique email address, in each category, until 4/23/12.  Which means you can vote on all 3 of my entries everyday!  I’m always grateful for your supports and votes.  Thank you so much in advance.  I hope I can share the good news with you in the near future!  Winking smile

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chocolate Sablés—With Pictorials


I’m calling all chocolate lovers out there: This is a recipe you want need to try!  Yes, these chocolate sablés are that good.  I can probably end my ramblings and end this post here at the very first paragraph and move on to the recipe!  hahaha….but I’m afraid you’re going to miss me and my little stories too much.  So, I’ll continue on.  Winking smile  Don’t you want to hear my descriptions on how good these tasted?  I'd bet that you do.


Plus, I have the pictorials for you on this recipe, still, allow me to better explain a little bit.  I used a Wilton 1M Swirl /Star tip and a piping bag to pipe out the dough for these little cookies.  I piped some in a simple round drop of dough, as shown in the picture below; and some in an “8” or “infinity” shape, as shown from the picture above.  I really love the round ones as they are perfect one (or two) bitters.  At the same time, they are extremely dangerous because I’ve found myself popping them one by one into my mouth and I've lost count on how many I've consumed.  My original idea was to make these one bitters for “portion control”.  So, go figured.


Let’s move on to the pictorial, shall we? 

1) In a medium mixing bowl, add flour and cocoa powder
2) Whisk until well combined
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter, powdered sugar and salt on low speed.  Then, turn to medium high speed and beat until light and fluffy.  (Start with low speed so you don’t cover yourself and the kitchen with powdered sugar!)
4) Add the coffee mixture
5) and egg white; and beat until well incorporated
6) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Process 1

Are you still with me?  Smile  Just checking….

7) Turn mixer on low and slowly add in the dry ingredients
8) Mix until just combined.
9) Here’s the 1M pastry tip
10) Transfer the dough to the prepared pastry bag.
11) You can simple pipe an 1-inch rounds, 1-inch apart
12) Or, pipe dough with the “infinity” shape (like a horizontal 8) 1 by 2-inch size. Top with a piece of chocolate chip in the middle of each dough and they are ready to go into the oven.

Process 2

Here’s a closer look on how to pipe the infinity shape (see picture below) .  Technically, it’s more of an “open ended lay down 8 shape”.  Smile  hahaha…I think I’ve lost a few more of you with my "technical description".  I'm glad a picture is worth a thousand, please take a look at the picture instead.

Piping the Batter

As noted in the recipe below, I used Kerrygold’s butter and Valrhona’s cocoa powder in this recipe.  I can never stress it enough that great quality ingredients really make a big difference on the end products.  Winking smile These Chocolate Sablés are chocolate-y, crumbly and have the texture between a short bread cookie and a butter cookie.  I love the fact that these cookies got the right amount of sweetness (as you might already know I don’t like desserts that are overly sweet) so that the chocolate flavor shines through.   They also packaged well.  So, feel free to mark this recipe down and have it ready when you need some baked goods for gift-giving, pot luck, picnic, or simply share with good friends.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wonderful News and Easter Brunch Idea

If you’re still searching for an Easter Brunch recipe, look no further.  I have a great suggestion for you.  Brie and Prosciutto Tart!  Yes, I know I’ve blog about this recipe before.  It’s worth revisiting because….guess what?  I’ve won the Grand Prize on the Country Woman Magazine’s Breakfast & Brunch Recipe Contest with this recipe.  Woohoo….


I’m thrilled and honored that my recipe is featured on Country Woman Magazine’s April/May issue.  Check it out at the news stand and get a copy if you haven’t.  There are many other delicious recipes, crafting ideas (which I can definitely use some tips on), gardening tips and so much more.  Check out the beautiful picture (below) of the tart that they’ve re-created.  I love it. 


So, are you convinced to give this recipe a try?  I hope you are.  Smile  Best of all, you can prebake the crust the day before and only prepare the filling on the day you plan to serve this tart.  While the tart is baking, you can prepare a side salad or pour yourself a glass of mimosa and relax.  Winking smile  Wish you all a Happy Easter Weekend.