Monday, July 30, 2012

Ice Cream Bon Bon with Magic Shells—With Pictorial


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Nothing beat the heat better than enjoying a bowl of ice cream in the summer.  Well, maybe there is one thing….which is enjoying some Ice Cream Bon Bon with Magic Shells!  Are these bon bons just too cute and fun to eat?  Also, they are the best way to portion control your desserts intake... if it’s a concern for you, just like me!  haha…

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Of course, I used my homemade ice cream to create these bon bons.  I had the Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream and French Roasted Coffee Ice Cream on hand, so those were what I used here.  After the ice cream balls were covered by the magic chocolate shells, they would be impossible to tell which one was which!   To distinguish between the two, I made them in two different batches and top them with different toppings.  The strawberry ice cream with a slice of freeze dried strawberry and the coffee one with a sprinkle of cocoa nibs.  Both of these toppings added some crunch to these bon bons.  On top of the already magical and crunchy magic shells?  These are truly amazing.

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The magic shells are super easy to make as well, simply two ingredients in it, chocolate and coconut oil.  The coconut oil is the “magic” of the chocolate shells!  Want to join me in the kitchen with the step-by-step pictorial?  Come on over! 

1) Scoop the ice cream (with the smallest ice cream scoop you can find) onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Place them back into the freezer to harden, about 30 minutes
2) Place chopped chocolate and coconut oil in a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk until the chocolate is melted, let the chocolate cool down a little before dipping
3) I used a fork and a spoon for the dipping.  Pick up an ice cream bon bon with a fork, place over the melted chocolate and spoon melted chocolate over the ice cream. 
4) Make sure the whole thing is covered with melted chocolate.
5) Place them back onto the parchment lined baking sheet, top with your preferred topping while the chocolate is still soft.  Then, place them back to the freezer until the chocolate shell harden and ready to serve
6) I top the coffee bon bon with cocoa nibs

Pictorial

These bon bon are so simple and so much fun to make and eat.  Smile When you bite into one, you’ll hear the crack of the magic shell and your creamy ice cream started to melt in your mouth and cools you down.

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The ice cream scoop I used was about 1-inch in diameter, so these bon bon turned out to be 2-biters.  But if you can find an scoop that’s even smaller, use it and hopefully you’ll get a 1-bite size bon bon.

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I used a 70% dark chocolate for the shells.  You can use semi-sweet, bitter-sweet, or even white chocolate for the shells.  My family is all into dark chocolate so that’s what I used.   I hope you enjoyed today’s recipe and pictorial.  Until next time, stay cool and magical!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grilled Vegetables Salad


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I’ve been turning on my BBQ grill quite often lately.  How about you?  It’s a nice way to keep the kitchen and the house cool, by bringing the cooking outdoor.  Plus, I really enjoy the charred and BBQ flavor from grilling.  The next time you plan to grill, get a bunch of vegetables for grilling too.  They make wonderful side dish, such as this Grilled Vegetables Salad.

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Tip of the day: Grilled the vegetables before the meat. So you can prepare this salad while the meats cook.  It’s really simple to grill vegetables and it’s nice to pair this salad with a clean and light "dressing”.  In this recipe, I used romaine lettuce, zucchini, yellow squash, fresh corns, tomatoes, avocado, and dress it with lime zest, lime juice, green onion and fresh cilantro.  You can grill your favorite vegetables here and just add them in.  I used these produces as they are all in season now.  Nothing better and more fresh than to get the produces that are in season and bountiful!

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I hope you enjoy today’s simple and healthy recipe.  Until next time, take care and happy grilling.  Have fun and stay safe for the rest of the summer.



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Monday, July 23, 2012

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate


Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate

Have you ever mix your own Cocoa Mix at home?  Well, I haven’t tried until just a few months ago.  After tasting the 2nd batch (the first trial was too sweet for my liking) and I asked myself why didn’t I do that sooner?  Yes, the beauty of mixing your own cocoa mix is that you can adjust the sweetness in it and decide what ingredients to go into your mix.  My recipe is really simple, just a few ingredients and nothing that you cannot pronounced.  By the way, my first batch didn't go to waste, of course.  I simply add more cocoa powder into it to make it “right”.  I often find the store bought one from the markets is way too sweet.  The one that I really love with intense chocolate flavor from the chocolate specialty store is way too expensive.  So, here we go.  The perfect cocoa mix, made in your very own home.  You can get it done in less than a minute as well!

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate

It’s super easy too mix your own cocoa mix, all you need are four ingredients.  1) Unsweetened cocoa powder.  Of course, I used my favorite Varlhona’s. 2) Caster sugar.  Super fine sugar is easier to blend well with the rest of the ingredients.  They are available in the baking isle.  Or, simply grind the granulate sugar in the food processer for 2 minutes.  3) Vanilla powder, and 4) Salt.  Put them all in a large airtight container and shake until well incorporated.  That’s it.  When you’re ready to use, simply mix 2 tablespoons of the cocoa mix in every 8 ounces of hot milk.  I know, I know, it’s in the middle of summer and who needs a hot chocolate, right?  That’s why,  we are having a Frozen Hot Chocolate instead.  Smile Also, if you’re into giving home made gifts in the holidays, book mark this for your future reference.  The holiday will be here sooner than you know.

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate

Just one zip, I promise, you’ll be hooked.  It’s chocolate-y, creamy, and really cool.  It’s the perfect summer indulgence.  So, do share with your family and loved ones.  

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate

To make sure your frozen hot chocolate is creamy and not too icy, the trick is to prepare some milk-cubes.  Yes, ice cube made from milk instead of water.  I used whole milk here but you can use low-fat milk or whatever you prefer. 

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Pour the milk into the ice cube trays (almost but not quite to the top, the milk cube will expand a little when frozen) and freeze them until ready to use.  I found these ice cube trays at Target for $1 each.  What’s neat about these trays is that the bottom of each cube is made with silicone.  So, all you need is a gentle push and your ice cube will come right out. 

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I simply topped my Frozen Hot Chocolate with some freshly whipped cream and a Maraschino Cherry, that’s it.  The baby size cups were for my kids.  Of course, they loved it, too.

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate

You can enjoy your Frozen Hot Chocolate with a straw or a spoon.  See how chocolate-y and cool it is?  I have my milk-cubes freeze up ahead of time and store in a freezer safe container.  This will be my quick and easy go-to treat this summer. 

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate

What are some of your favorite summer recipes?  I would love to hear from you and try your recipes too. 

Home Made Cocoa Mix and Frozen Hot Chocolate


P.S.  Click here to see where to buy the Glass Jars

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sesame Cookie Crisps and Sesame Tuile—with Pictorial


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Do you still remember the Almond Cookie Crisps that I shared with you  last year?  Okay, I don’t expect you to remember every recipe that I’ve shared.   So, here’s the post and recipe again.  Those of you who have tried that recipe (thank you for trying) had very similar feedback for me.  Those cookies are super delicious and addicting, however, it's a bit time consuming to prepare since you have to spread the almonds in the batter, into one single layer.   What I really meant to tell you is that, if your patience is as thin as those Almond Cookie Crisps, but love crisps and nutty cookies, you have to try these Sesame Cookie Crisps instead.  These Sesame Cookie Crisps are super easy to make and you don’t have to worry about spreading them paper thin like the almond ones.  Although the aroma and taste of sesame and almonds are quite different, the texture of these crisps are almost the same.  The sesame ones might have more of a bite to it.  These crisps are really crunchy, crisps, and extremely aromatic.

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I turn some of these Sesame Cookie Crisps into Sesame Tuile (please see the picture below).  Technically, a tuile is a thin, crisp cookie made of dough.  It is originally from France and the word “tuile” means tile in French as it resembling the roof tile.  You can eat them as is, or use a a garnish for other dessert such as panna cotta, ice cream or sorbet.  I think they are just more fun to eat with their curvy shape.

Trio

What I love about this recipe is that you don’t need to use the stand mixer, not even the hand held one!  All you need are measuring spoons/cups, a mixing bowl, and a whisk.  I’ll get to the step-by-step pictorial in just a minutes.  In this recipe, I used both white and black sesame seeds.  Feel free to just use whatever you like.  I just love the color of black sesame seeds throughout these cookies.

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Let's get into the kitchen.  Are you ready?

1) In a mixing bowl, add egg and caster sugar (caster sugar is super fine sugar, it'll dissolves faster than regular sugar)
2) Whisk until the sugar completely dissolved
3) Add flour and melted butter
4) Whisk until well combined



Pictorial A

5) Add sesame seeds
6) Stir until well combined
7) Spread a teaspoonful of batter on a silpat lined baking sheet
8) Baked and cool cookies on wiring rack or on a rolling pin (for tuile) while they're still warm


Pictorial B


Simple, right?  Yeah, no testing of your patient in this recipe.  It's all nutty and crispy goodness.  I hope you enjoy today's recipe and pictorial.  Thank you for stopping by, until next time, Happy Baking!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Looking Beautiful all Summer Long with Dove VisibleCare Toning Crème Body Wash


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How’s your summer so far? I hope you’re enjoying yourself and having a blast with your family and friends. It’s only the beginning of the summer and my family schedule is all booked up and filled with fun activities. In between summer classes that my kids are having, they enjoy hanging out at the beach the most. Lately, they’re really into building sand castles. Well, I don’t have an “end product” to show you because as soon as my kids were done building it, they step on it right the way. I guess the joy is really in the process (of stepping onto it), not the end result.

BBQ

Of course, we have tons of BBQ parties and gatherings. Last weekend, we had a party and we were (I meant, I was) cooking up a storm. I just realized that grilled romaine lettuces are so delicious and easy to make. If you haven’t tried that, you should.

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On some days, we just stayed in, did driveway drawings; Biked around the neighborhood; Played bubble gun at the back yard; Or took out the collapsible play house and fill it with plastic balls.  My kids found that very entertaining. Yup, that’s really fun for toddlers.

Drive way drawing

Very often, this is the sight (see picture below) I’m greeted with after a long day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all fun time that I had with the kids. But I do long for a relaxing spa treatment with my girlfriends every once in a while. Imagine spending a relaxing day at the spa; enjoy a body wrap or a body salt scrub, ended with a spa bath or a soak in the Jacuzzi tub; then catch up with my girlfriends and talk about anything and everything (=gossip). That would make me feel all brand new and rejuvenated. But before I can squeeze out a day to do all that, I have a better and more economical solution in between spa days.

Messy play area

BlogHer and Dove provided me with a free bottle of Dove VisibleCare Toning Crème Body Wash to try. I’ve been using it for more than a week now. I love the rich, pearlescent crème format with luxurious lather the most. It has a delicate wood fragrance along with robust citrus note of mandarin. The best part is that it leaves my skin nice and soft after each use. This body wash contains Vitamin E and helps my skin looks more beautiful, promotes skin’s elasticity and strength. I’m so glad it does what it says. So, my girlfriends, before I can meet you up for a spa treatment, go get yourself a bottle. You’ll be glad you did.

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I was provided with a bottle of Dove VisibleCare Toning Crème Body Wash free of charge for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are 100% my own and always will be.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

French Roasted Coffee Ice Cream


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My family adores dark chocolate.  Yes, including my kids.  My hubby probably is the one most crazy about dark chocolate.  So, when I made this Valrhona Dark Chocolate Ice Cream, he was over the moon.  I’ve already made many batches of the dark chocolate ice cream since I’ve got the ice cream machine.  Now, we  (hubby and I) have a new favorite.  This French Roasted Coffee Ice Cream!  I can’t believe he loves this coffee ice cream more than the dark chocolate one.  But, I have to tell you, this French Roasted Coffee Ice Cream really is special....and yes, I love this even more than the dark chocolate ice cream too.

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I used to love Starbucks' coffee ice cream because it’s the strongest among the store bought brands I’ve tried.  When my morning cup of joe can't even wake me up, I need to consume some strong coffee ice cream.  Nah...not really, I probably need it more in the afternoon to prevent myself from taking a nap.  After making this French Roasted Coffee Ice Cream at home, I’m glad to declare my home made version is way better than Starbucks'.  Not only the coffee flavor is bold and strong, but it’s a lot more creamier than Starbucks'.  Sorry, Starbucks, I still love your coffee though, but I just won’t be buying your ice cream any more.  hehehe…

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Some of you have asked me about the use of salt in my dessert recipes.  Let me tell you the importance of the salt in here.  The salt in desserts is used not only to balance out the sweetness but it’s also essential in this coffee ice cream.  Have you ever made a large pot of coffee in the morning and tried to reheat it in the afternoon and it turned sour (and unbearable)?   It’s a waste to throw away the whole pot of coffee because of that.  The sourness often happened when the coffee is heated to a certain temperature.  If that ever happened to you, don’t throw away the coffee, simply add a pinch of salt and your coffee won’t be sour anymore.  Give that a try and you’ll be amazed that your old coffee tastes just like freshly brewed again. 

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Because we do boil and heat the coffee bean in this recipe, it’s essential to have the salt in it to counter the sourness.  This French Roasted Coffee Ice Cream is rich, bold and strong in coffee flavor without any hint of sourness.  It’s smooth and creamy…and….and… I have no more words for it.  You’ve got to give this a try and you’ll know how amazing it tastes.

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Hope you enjoy today’s recipe and coffee tips.  If you want to check out a pictorial on how to make ice cream, you can refer to this post here for some reference.  The steps are rather similar and I hope it helps.   Until next time, stay cool and have a wonderful rest of the summer.

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**Update 8/6/2012: In my most recent batch of this French Roasted Coffee Ice Cream, I added 1 cup of chopped dark chocolate at the last 3 minutes of churning.  It's amazing and tasted just like the one from Starbucks, if not better.  You might want to give that a try to if you like dark chocolate. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rainbow Salad


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People say, “Have an apple a day, keeps the doctor away”.  I say, have a rainbow a day would probably do the trick much more efficiently.  Of course, I meant eating foods the colors of a rainbow, not the rainbow itself.  I wonder if it was my doctor (or possibly my Mom) who told me to eat the colors of the rainbow every day.  Or did I hear that from Elmo?  Any way, as you can see, I took that advice to heart. 

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When my kids saw this salad, they screamed “rainbow!” at the same time.  So, I guess my “crafting” skills aren't as poor as I thought, if only this rainbow “construction” thing is considered crafting.  Well, I guess, not really, but I wish!  Smile

How did I get the inspiration to create this rainbow salad?  It all started when Kitchen PLAY contacted me to try Aunt Nellie’s Baby Whole Pickled Beets; I couldn’t be more happy about it.  Beets are one of the foods that I disliked as a child but adore and can never get enough now.  Do you see that deep red gorgeous color of the beets?  That means they contain the powerful antioxidant, Betacyanins.  These  antioxidants are good for your heart and may even lower the risk for certain cancers.  I wanted to create a recipe that showcases the importance of the colors in our diet.  So, this Rainbow Salad was born. 

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Aunt Nellie’s Baby Whole Pickled Beets are picked and pickled at their perfect ripeness.  They strike a natural balance of sweet and tangy.  The flavors of the beets complement the peppery and spicy baby arugula that I used in this salad.

These baby whole pickled beets are sized just right for one bite, which is perfect as an appetizer for any gathering.  I tossed them into my salad without additional chopping or slicing, which also saved me time in the kitchen.  I used the pickling liquid to create the beautiful Pickled Beet and Herb Vinaigrette for the salad, which was easy to make and really refreshing.  Yup, you know me: nothing goes to waste in this household.  So, make sure you don’t drain your pickling liquid.

Check out each of the ingredients from this Rainbow salad in the picture below. 

Red=Aunt Nellie’s Baby Whole Pickled Beets
Orange=Orange Bell Pepper
Yellow=Hard Boiled Eggs
Green=Green Beans
Blue=Blueberry
Purple=Red Cabbage
White Cloud=Feta Cheese
All ingredients sitting on top of Baby Arugula:

Ingredients

This Rainbow Salad is certainly a show-stopper.  So, be sure to serve up on your next gathering.  Smile  It’s so simple and easy to put together that I made this on a week night.  And my Baby Girl already asked me for more the very next day.

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To have even more fun with Aunt Nellie's full line of glass-packed vegetables, sign up hereto receive a coupon good toward the purchase price of any Aunt Nellie's product. Then, create your own fun dish using that product for a chance to win $250 from Aunt Nellie's and Kitchen PLAY. See specific rules at Kitchen PLAY. Limited quantities available. Sweepstakes ends 8/31/12.

Aunt Nellie's graphic

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Kitchen PLAY and Aunt Nellie’s Baby Whole Pickled Beets.  All opinions are my own and always will be. 

Health and General Disclaimers.





Rainbow Salad: (Printable Recipe)
3 eggs
1 cup green beans, trimmed
1(1pound) jar of Aunt Nellie’s Pickled Whole Baby Beet
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby arugula
1 Orange Bell Pepper, thinly slices
2 cups blueberries
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


In a medium saucepan filled with cool tap water, place the eggs in the pot before heating on the stove.  Make sure the water covers the eggs by at least an inch.  When the water comes to a full boil, cover and remove from heat.  Let the eggs sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water until completely cool to the touch.  Remove the shells and cut each egg in slices.  Set aside.

Return the same sauce pan of water to a boil; Blanch the green beans for one minute.  Remove the green beans with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drained and pat dry, set aside.

Drained the baby beet and reserve 1/4 cup of the pickling liquid.  Place the pickling liquid back to the jar; add olive oil, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.  Close the lid and shake the vinaigrette until well combined. Set aside.

To assemble: on a large platter or serving plate, scatter the baby arugula in an even layer, place pickled whole baby beets in an arch shape on the top of the arugula to form the rainbow shape.  Follow by orange bell pepper, sliced hard boiled eggs, blanched green beans, blueberries, and red cabbage.  Place 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese on both ends of the “rainbow” and enjoy.  Serve with pickled beet vinaigrette on the side.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yuzu Shrimp and Halibut Ceviche


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Ceviche is a dish typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime, and sometimes spiced with onion, salt, cilantro, and chili pepper.  I got some beautiful Halibut from my In-Laws and first thing that came in mind was to make a ceviche!   It’s fresh, clean, flavorful and fun to eat.  Best of all, it requires no “cooking” and best serve chilled.  This is such a perfect summer dish to enjoy!  

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Although it required no heating up the stove to “cook” the fish, the acid from the citrus juice actually “cooks” the fish.  You’ll see the flesh of the fish turns from translucent to white color when it’s done.  Pretty amazing, huh?  It’s the best summer party dish because you can prepare the ceviche the day before you plan to serve it.  Don’t you just love dishes that you can make ahead for gatherings and parties?  I definitely do.

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Instead of using traditional lime and lemons juice to marinate the ceviche, I used Yuzu juice and Meyer Lemon juice.  I adore both of these citrus and they were a wonderful combination in this ceviche.  Many ceviche calls for raw onion but I didn’t want the strong flavor to overpower the sophisticated and clean flavor of the Halibut.  Therefore, I used a shallot instead for the milder oniony flavor and it works well.  If you’re into spicy food, feel free to add a finely chopped Jalapeño for a spicy kick.  I serve them as a side salad for a family gathering.  You can definitely serve this with some Tortilla chips to scoop with and present it as an appetizer.   

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