Banana Bread Recipe

Hello all!

One of my colleagues brought me this delicious banana bread that was super fluffy – and as much as I hate to admit it, her banana bread is better than mine! So, I asked – nay, begged her for the recipe. And after tinkering with it a little bit, I think I have perfected the banana bread recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ kosher salt or fine salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil or melted butter

 

Directions:

  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ load pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, except for sugar. Whisk the eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and add in vanilla extract. Stir until just combined.
  3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
  4. Pour the batter in to the prepared load bake. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely.

 

Banana bread can be made 3 days in advance. Store airtight at room temperature. You can also add blueberries, chocolate chips, walnuts! You can also enjoy with a side of ice cream 🙂

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Happy National Happiness Day!

Today, August 8th, is National Happiness Day! Let’s take a look back at the history of the people who championed the holiday.

National Happiness Day started as “Admit You’re Happy Day” by the Secret Society of Happy People in 1999.  It was created “to recognize and express happiness.” They encourage people to observe the day  by recognizing moments of joy, pleasure, delight…basically those positive feelings that are under the term “happy.” Happiness is encouraged ALL. DAY. LONG.

But is happiness really that easy to find? I’ve asked myself this question many times over the last several years. I reflected on whether I was happy. Truly happy. Or do I just enjoy a few moments of glee from enjoying time with my friends and family? Just because I have a hearty laugh from a joke or a story told to me by a friend, it doesn’t really mean I’m happy…does it? What does it really mean to be happy?

I actually Googled the meaning of happy. Happy, according to the all-knowing Google, is “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.” But isn’t it possible to be content but not happy? I always felt that contentment and happiness are two different feelings. To me, contentment can be just feeling enough and settling for what you have. But happiness is hard to find. Because happiness is more just feeling enough. It’s a mixture of a lot of pleasurable feelings that leads to this one indescribable emotions where you feel so much joy and positivity.

I don’t know if I have ever truly felt happy. Like really happy. Not content, but happy. I have felt joy, though; the kinds that you get when you grin ear-to-ear and laugh uncontrollably until your stomach hurts. You’re literally LOL-ing and ROFL-ing.

In my previous post, I mentioned (albeit briefly) that I went and seek help in the form of therapy. I started therapy because the minutiae of every day life became unbearable. I find myself wanting to cry every day. I tried masking it at work, put a smile on my face. But the harder I try to mask it, the deeper the hole that I dug myself into. I mentioned to my therapist in a couple of occasion that I believe I never truly felt happy in my life. There are definitely moments where I felt lucky, content, and joy. But happy? Happy is a term that seems so foreign to me.

But I also realized that maybe it was also because I was depressed and anxious for so long that I forgot what happiness truly feels. Maybe I was so down that the high doesn’t seem that high. That it was almost impossible to reach.

As I write this post, I reflect back on these little moments. And the thing is, maybe I am happier than I ever really let on. I mean, I have everything I need in life. Is everything perfect? No, of course not. But I have a family that loves me and supports me, as much as I love and support them. Do we get along all day every day? And is it all rosy and perfect? No. And I know that they will always be there for me, and we will do anything for each other

I have a full-time job that lets me pay my rent and my bills. Do I wish I get paid more? Sure. Do I wish I’m more passionate about what I do? Of course. Is this my ultimate dream job? Not necessarily. Do I get along and like every one that I work with? Not really, and sometimes even those that I’m close to, I’m not particularly fond of every single day. But I don’t really hate my job.

I have friends who loves me and whom I love. I enjoy their company and they enjoy mine. Yes, my circle of friends have gotten smaller over the last few years, but I’m satisfied with the relationships that I have built and I go to bed knowing that I have and will always do what I can for them every single day. We support each other and we want what is best for each other.

So maybe being happy is realizing that contentment is enough, and that even though things can be better, it will just be the cherry on top of a delicious sundae on a hot summer day. And as I continue to work on myself and my happiness, I can get to that high. So high that the lowest low doesn’t seem so low.

So, I urge you all today, dear readers, to go out there and take a look at the clear, blue sky. To take a moment and reflect on the good things in life.  Share a smile with a stranger.

And if today is a bad day, try listening to one of your favorite song or that funny movie that you enjoy (side note: my recommendation would be White Chicks). But find that little moments of a bad day where you don’t feel crappy and realize that happiness can be found all around you if you just search for it.

In the words of the great Charlotte York when asked if she was happy with her relationship, “Not all day, every day. But yes, I am happy.”

 

happiness cocktail

 

 

 

What I wish I knew before turning 25

I’m turning 25 in just a few days, and in the last few weeks I have been dreading it and feel like I’m going through a semi-quasi quarter life crisis. I know, I know – 25 isn’t even that old. But I think there is a difference about having past an age and actually approaching an age. When I was 15, I thought, “WOW! When I’m 21, I’m finally going to be an adult. I’m actually old now.” But then 21 comes and goes and it was fine, and I’m sure 25 is going to be the same. But 25 has always been a significant number. I always thought that by 25 I would be married, or at least engaged; I would also be in a career that I love. There’s a lot of things that I thought I would have accomplished but haven’t yet. So here are 25 things that I wished I knew before the big silver year:
  1. It’s okay to not have found your passion. What I care about five years ago and what I care about now has changed. As I grew older, I began to learn more about we impact we leave in this world, the mark that we make, and our carbon footprints. I began to learn about sustainability and what it means to be environmentally friendly. I became passionate about recycling and composting. But this is just one aspect of my life that I am passionate about. I’m sure that it will change or evolved as I age as well. I still sometimes feel like there is still a missing puzzle in my life. Even though I am learning how to care more for the planet, I wouldn’t say it’s my optimal passion in life. And I have learned that maybe I will never find that “one thing” that I am passionate about, but there is also a chance that it’s more than just one thing.
  2. It’s okay to lose some friends. It’s all about the qualities than the quantities. I have learned that long ago, but it’s still hard to let go of someone, especially those friends that you thought will always be in your life forever. I learned, though, that sometimes those who are meant to be in your life, will stay in your life forever – or at least, they have a way of coming back to you. When I was in elementary and middle school, I had a really good friend who moved away. Even though she didn’t move that far away, we eventually lost touch. With modern technology and Facebook, we were finally able to reconnect…somewhat. There was the occasional and somewhat mandatory birthday posts on each other wall. When we graduated college, we found ourselves living in the same city. Yet we never met up. But after many texts and posts of “Let’s get together and catch up!” we finally did it. And it felt like no time had passed. Then she moved away to New York. After a year, she came back and we found ourselves back to being friends. True, we were never as close as we were back when we were youngsters, but we were back in each other’s lives. I believe that if we can each do our part and nurture this relationship, distance will just be a number of miles that can easily mean nothing with a simple plane ride.
  3. It’s okay to not be working in your dream job. Growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor. That was the only thing I ever dreamed about. I used to play doctor while everyone else was playing with their barbie dolls. I became especially determined when I was in a horrific car accident and when my grandmother’s kidneys failed. After my grandmother passed away, I felt a little bit lost. How can I continue when the one person that really inspired me is no longer here? I became dispassionate about school and medicine, and eventually switched my major. I now work as an Events Coordinator. Is it my dream job? Not particularly. But I think I’m rather good at it. I learned to grow out of my shell and became a people person. I’m good at my job – I can negotiate, I can make flower arrangements and be creative. I can see my vision come to live. And when I see everything coming together, I feel proud of myself.
  4. It’s okay to feel depressed and anxious. About anything, really. I think that it’s human nature to be your own critic and some people do it worse than others. Sometimes, it can lead to depression and anxiety. All of us, in my honest opinion, has a little bit of anxiety and depression, but whether you let those feelings manifest and how you handle your emotions can make all the difference in the world. This is something that is a little hard for me to share, but I think it’s important. This year, I began to suffer extreme anxiety and depression. I had blamed it on being too overwhelmed and stressed at work. However, I realized that it wasn’t just worked that made me feel stressed out and overwhelmed. It was everything else that was going on my life, too. And I also had been feeling depressed and anxious longer that I would care to admit. But it was the stress and overwhelming expectations that pushed me over the edge. Depression and anxiety are akin those buddies that people would warn their kids about because they are part of the “bad crowd.” I always thought of them as those college buddies who always just want to party all the time. But the thing is, you moved on from college and you’re trying to live your life but they won’t let you. They keep coming back and knocking on your door, and you can’t ignore them because they’re your buddies. They are familiar. So you let them in and they began to overstay their welcome.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help. And I did. I went to a therapist who helped me manage my stress, depression, and anxiety. And I can now sleep better, and it makes a huge difference in my life. I still have a long ways to go, but I feel better than I did eight months ago. I finally feel almost like myself again. Not only did I seek help professionally for my mental health, I still ask for help on my daily life. I call my mom every day asking her for the most mundane things: curry recipes, the pimple on my forehead that won’t go away…the list goes on and on.
  6. It’s okay to say no. I’ve always had a hard time of saying no. My mom raised me to be helpful and kind. But sometimes, you just don’t feel like getting Karen from Accounting her breakfast omelette, you know? Especially if she doesn’t pay you back.
  7. It’s okay to put yourself first. This is a hard one for me to pitch, mainly because I’m still trying to work on it myself. Coming from a big family, we always leaned on each other and we always put family first. But sometimes putting your family first means that you don’t get to put yourself in the driver’s seat. But this is yourself, so you need to take control of it. It’s a delicate balance trying to please others – your boss, your friend, your family. They will all tell you different things and sometimes those things contradict each other. But you need to learn what is best for you and what that little voice inside your head is telling you. Start listening to your heart and trust your gut. Your instinct is more powerful than you think!
  8. Stop being so damn apologetic. Every time someone runs into me, I’m accustomed to saying sorry. I don’t really know why. Maybe because I feel like I’m in their way. But it’s not really my fault, is it? Well, it’s not yours either! Stop apologizing for everything. Sometimes, it’s their fault and not yours. Sometimes, it’s not anyone’s faults. There’s nothing that you can do. There are things that you can’t control.
  9. Forgiveness and acceptance are necessary to maintain a sense of peace. Whether it’s accepting fate, or accepting that you can’t always control everything. To forgive someone is to free yourself from the internal hell of hatred that you are feeling. The agony and the anger. Instead, just accept what happened and learn to let it go. Try to see it from their perspective, remove yourself from the situation. You’ll learn empathy and you’ll be free from the pain that you were feeling.
  10. Get rid of the toxic people (and things!) in your life. Whether it’s that one “friend” who only hits you up when they want something from you but never reciprocates anything, or the toxic relationship you have with your on again-off again partner. Or maybe it’s that unhealthy diet of 3 cans of Diet Coke and 2 bags of Cheetos you consume during your afternoon snack time.
  11. Don’t be afraid to change. Change is hard no matter how adaptable you are. And usually as we get older, the harder it is for us to accept change. I don’t really know why. But I see it with my aunts, uncles, my parents, and even myself. You just have to take it one day at a time and know that things usually get better. And if tomorrow doesn’t get better, there’s always another day. You just have to ride out the roller coaster. And remind yourself that you have gotten through the last change, and you’ll also get through this one.
  12. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. We all get comfortable and have our own routine. But routine makes life seems mundane and boring. Instead, try taking a language class or a cooking class. Or maybe look for another job. Always learn how to challenge yourself and better yourself.
  13. Learn how to cook. And not just eggs or rice. But learn how to make actual meals. I personally love looking at BuzzFeed for recipes. They also have a new Tasty app with videos to show you step-by-step directions on how to make the recipe. And who can ever forget Tastemade? The recipes on these apps are usually delicious, fast, and easy!!
  14. Turn off your phone (and other technology!). Learn how to interact with people and nature once more. We all get so caught-up in technology that sometimes I feel people forget how to interact with other human beings in real life. They all avoid talking on the phones, or meeting up. Our world has become so reliant on technology that sometimes it’s nice to finally catch up with a friend from college over dinner with no phones, or even go on a hike and see the wonders of the world. I mean, the world is an incredible place with so many amazing views and creations.
  15. Be healthier. Just learn to take care of your body in general. Maybe learn how to cook a delicious salad. Or an easy breakfast you can eat before you rush out the door in the morning.
  16. Learn to love documentaries. There’s so much to learn from watching documentary. I recently watched a couple of documentaries about the meat industry that left me heartbroken. It encouraged me to think twice about eating meat products. Even if they are labeled as “cage-free,” or “free range.”
  17. Do what you love. I used to love cooking and baking, but as time went on, I’ve stopped. Maybe it was the depression, or the lack of energy after a long day of work. But recently I started cooking more often and I started re-reading my favorite books. I learned that if I just carve out 30 minutes a day doing the things that I enjoy, I feel happier and more content. Of course, you can always start out small. I used to cook everything from scratch, now I do semi home-cooked meals, with almost-ready to eat meals from Trader Joe’s or one of Sandra Lee’s semi home-cooked meal recipes.
  18. Learn something new. Maybe it’s a new language, or maybe it’s learning how to do basic coding. There are so many options and resources out there that you can use to do this. Duolingo is a popular app that many people – including myself – have used to learn a new language. There’s also Coursera, Code Academy, or FutureLearn if you want to take a more structured online course that you can do on your own pace. They have everything from anthropology to economic to history course.
  19. Learn how to manage your money. Including retirement funds. What the heck is a 401(k)? Or a 403(b)? Or what’s the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional one? Maybe get a savings account. Start out small, like saving up $10/week. After a year, you’ll have $520! By the time you turn 50, you’ll have $13k – that’s not including compound interest that you’ll be racking up in that 25 years!
  20. Have better posture. This is probably the hardest thing for me to accomplish from this list. Ever since I can remember I have always had bad posture, which is a little bit ironic because when I was younger, I used to be a ballerina and they always emphasized on having good posture. Now, I look like The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  21. Be more involved. Whether it’s at your church, temple, or local government office. Or even just by learning about who your city council is, or who your mayor is. What proposition are coming up in the next election? What is going on in the world today? I recently found two really awesome subscriptions: What the Fuck Just Happened and the Skimm. They break things down to something that I can understand easily, and it takes me 5 minutes to catch up on what’s going on in the world today.
  22. Take the time to meditate. Focus on your mental health. Taking 20 seconds out every hour is better than none at all. There was an article recently that went viral about a woman who asked her boss for some mental health day, and the response from her boss was nothing short of encouraging. There’s a lot of going on right now about how important it is to take a mental health day and just give your brain a break. If anything, it helps people be more productive. Read this article from Huffington Post on six reasons why you should take a mental health day.
  23. Get enough sleep. Stop spending so much time going out to bars or watching Netflix. Instead, get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. It’s like hitting the reset button and waiting until everything is rebooted again, and if you don’t wait enough time, then the reboot isn’t complete. Getting enough sleep helps improve your mood, increase your metabolism, helps with stress, and more. Lack of sleep are often attributed to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
  24. Go to the doctor. And the dentist. And the optometrist. These are the three big honchos that you should see at least once a year, if not more. Get your yearly physical. Ask your doctors about that headaches that you’ve been having. Floss your teeth. Stop eating that Reeses’s Peanut Buttercup instead of going to the dentist, and get your eyes checked. Taking care of both your physical and mental health are two fundamentals of being an adult.
  25. Learn how to take care of yourself. As in also learn how to defend yourself. Maybe take a self-defense class. Or carry a pepper spray. Especially if you are living by yourself, or coming home at night. But not only that, learn how to take an Emergen-C before getting that cold, or the proper way to make yourself a chicken noodle soup when you actually get that cold. Learn how to do your own laundry by separating the colors from the whites and delicate. These are little things that you need to learn when you live by yourself and to officially be a grown ass adult.

Pineapple Cake!

One of my favorite things in the world is the Pineapple Cake (鳳梨酥, fènglísū), which are made out of butter, flour, egg, sugar, and pineapple jam. It’s delicious with some Oolong tea or coffee, both as breakfast and afternoon tea time.

Recipe from Kirbie Cravings

INGREDIENTS:

Pineapple Filling:
2 (20 oz) cans crushed pineapples, drained
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup corn syrup
¼ cup honey
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Pineapple Pastry:
250 grams cake flour
60 grams icing sugar
¼ cup fat free milk powder
¼ cup custard powder
180 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a medium, nonstick saucepan, add drained crushed pineapples. Bring to a simmer on the stove and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until most of the excess liquid evaporates and mixture thickens.

2. Stir in sugar, corn syrup and honey. Cook mixture at a low simmer for about 40 minutes, until it becomes quite thick, with very little liquid. Stir occasionally. You may also want to taste it a few minutes after everything is mixed together to see if the filling is sweet enough. If not, you can add a little more sugar. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Pour filling into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. You can leave it for several hours or even make it the day  before. You want the filling to be completely cooled when you work with it.

3. To  make the pastry, add all ingredients except egg yolks into a food processor. Turn on and let it mix for about 2 minutes or until it becomes little balls of dough. See photo above; they look like dippin dots. At first the dough will turn very crumbly as your food processor breaks down the butter, but it will eventually turn soft into the little dough balls. If you want to try the recipe without egg yolks (as discussed in my notes), you can just squeeze these dough balls together to form one big ball of dough. Otherwise, add egg yolks in and pulse for about 1 minute, until smooth dough forms (shown in photo above).

4. Scoop out 1.5 tbsp dough balls and shape between palms to form round balls. Continue until all dough is used up. Set aside.

5. Take pineapple filling from fridge. Scoop out 1 tbsp of filling and compress between palms. Filling will be sticky and wet to work with. Gently roll between palms to shape into balls. Make enough filling balls to match the dough balls.

6. Lightly grease the inside of your square molds, by brushing them with oil.

7. Take a sheet of plastic wrap and stretch over flat surface, keeping it as smooth as possible. I found that plastic wrap really helped to make these cakes pretty. You want the plastic wrap to be smooth because your dough will have creases if your plastic wrap has creases. Take one of your dough balls and place it on top of the plastic wrap. Press down with your palm until it spreads out to a thin round. You want the round to be just big enough that it will wrap over the filling. It may take a few tries to determine the best length to stretch your round to. The round should be thin because the pastry is supposed to be only a thin layer of crust. However, keep the middle section of your round slightly thicker and thin out more on the edges. This way, when you bunch all the edges together to seal your pastry, the bunched edges won’t become too thick, which would make one side of your cake uneven.

8. Place a pineapple filling ball in the middle of your round. Lift one side of plastic wrap and peel the round from that side. You should be able to easily peel it off and the bottom side of the round should be completely smooth. Lift round completely from plastic wrap and then cover your pineapple filling with the dough, sealing the edges on top, attempting to smooth them as much as possible.

9. Place your square mold on top of the plastic wrap. Place your dough ball inside the square, with the bunch up ends side facing up, smooth side facing down. Carefully push and spread your ball until it spreads out completely across the square mold. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it. The dough should fit completely inside the mold. Try to smooth the surface of the dough as much as possible. Flip over. The underside of your dough should look nearly completely smooth and should fill the entire square mold. One of the photos above show both the finished smooth side and the side with the bunched edges.

10. Place mold, with the smooth side facing up, on a baking sheet lined with silicone mats or parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350F. While your oven is heating up, finish making the rest of your pineapple cakes.

11. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the tops turn a light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. After about 15 minutes, gently push the cakes out the molds. You can eat immediately or wait for them to finish cooling. Store any uneaten ones in an airtight container at room temperate. Because these have a fruit filling, do not store for too many days.

 

My favorite Red, White, and Blue Recipes

The first holiday of the Summer season: 4th of July. Full of fireworks, cook-outs, grilled hot dogs, burgers, beers, and desserts. It’s a chance for people to get together and celebrate ‘Merica’s independence.  Food and drinks tend to bring people together. So if you’re having some friends and family over this weekend, you want to make sure that you serve them something delicious to remember. Here are 10 of my favorite red, white, and blue recipes:

 

  1. Grilled corn on the cob
    What’s a BBQ without some corn? Granted, this recipe won’t have any “blue,” but it’s still going to be delicious. This is a recipe that I created by combining two of my favorite grilled corn recipes. You want to make sure that you use sweet corn for this recipe.

    8 ears corn, silks removed but husks left on
    2 cups of Huy Fong Foods Garlic Chili Sauce
    1 ½ cups of white, granulated sugar
    4 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
    3 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce
    ½ stick of butter, melted
    2 fresh limes, quartered
    ½ cup crumbled queso fresco or mild feta

    Turn those grill up!

    Mix garlic chili sauce, sugar, garlic, soy sauce, and melted butter together. Squeeze lime into mixture.

    Place corn on the grill, cook for about 15-20 minutes. While the corn cooks, turn occasionally, brush mixture on the corns using a brush.

    Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

  2. Trifle in a Jar (from Unsophisticook.com – thanks for the delicious recipe!)
    2 store bought pound cakes
    1 pint blueberries
    1 pint raspberries
    homemade whipped cream (heavy cream, vanilla extract and sugar).

    Slice pound cake into 1 slices and cut circles to fit jars. Alternately, you could cut the pound cake into cubes.

    Starting with a layer of cake on the bottom, follow with blueberries, whipped cream, raspberries, and top with another layer of cake

    Garnish with more whopped cream and berries if desired

    Side note: Since you’re getting the pound cakes and berries from the store anyways, you can also buy your own whipped cream. I won’t judge.

  3. Mustard Glazed Mushroom Burger (Courtesy of Melissa d’Arabian via the Food Network)

    2 lb. ground beef (85% lean)
    salt and ground pepper
    ¼ cup Dijon mustard
    3 tbs soy sauce
    1 tsp sugar
    6 slices Swiss cheese
    1 tbs olive oil
    8 oz. chopped baby bella or cremini mushrooms
    2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    6 buns

    Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Form the beef into 6 burgers; sprinkle with salt and pepper. To make the glaze, mix together the mustard, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl.

    Grill the burgers until desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare, brushing the burgers with the glaze about halfway through. A minute before removing the burgers from the grill, top with the cheese.

    Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the mushrooms until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

    Toast the buns and serve the burgers with the mushroom topping.

  4. Kid-Friendly Spritzer

    Ginger ale, Pellegrino, Perrier, or any sparkling water or club soda, lemon-lime soda – really, any kind of clear, carbonated drink would workBlueberries
    Blackberries
    Strawberries
    Raspberries
    Blue Gatorade
    Rose syrup (my favorite is the Marjan brand)

    Place fruits in a glass, toss in ice cubes (shaved ice would work well, too!), pour in your syrup (about two small dashes), your choice of clear carbonated drink. Mix well.

  5. Mini Berry Cream Pies: a healthy, red, white, and blue recipe from EatingWell!
    ¼ cup whipping cream
    2 teaspoons sugar
    ¼ cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
    15 frozen mini phyllo cups (1.9-ounce package)
    15 fresh blueberries
    15 fresh raspberries (I’ve substituted this with strawberries as well!)

    Beat cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar; beat until stiff. Fold in yogurt. Divide the yogurt cream among phyllo cups, keeping the cups in their plastic tray. Top each with 1 blueberry and 1 raspberry. Serve immediate, or chill up to 4 hours.

 

If you have any 4th of July recipes that you’d like to share, please comment below.

Have a wonderful 4th of July holiday!

Kaasstengels

A delicious, savory Dutch-Indonesian cheese cookies, usually in the form of a stick commonly found in the Netherlands and Indonesia.

I grew up eating Kaasstengels around the Christmas holidays. In my younger years, I’ve never really learned to appreciate savory desserts (I mean cheese cookies does sound like it’s going to taste a little weird, right?). But as I grew older and as my taste buds start to change, these cookies have been a delight to have – and it’s always a hit whenever I bring them to the office, especially to those who don’t particularly like anything too sweet.

According to Wikipedia, kaas is a Dutch word for “cheese,” and stengels is a Dutch word for “stick.” You put them together and voilà – cheese sticks. Literally translation of the cookie itself. Whoever came up with this name is a pure genius.

You can find the ingredients you need to make these delicious and exotic cookies probably in your pantry and refrigerator. If not, a quick trip to your local grocery store will do the trick. Nothing fancy – just your basic butter, eggs, flour, corn starch, and cheese.

One important thing to note – the recipe below is measured in grams. I used Google to convert the measurements. If you use the conversion below, please beware!

Ingredients:

500 grams butter (roughly, 1.1 lb)

8 egg yolk (just the yolk, folks! Save those egg whites for some delicious macarons)

600 grams all-purpose flour (roughly, 1.3 lb)

200 grams corn starch (roughly, 7.05 oz)

360 grams shredded cheese (roughly 12.70 oz; you can use any cheese you like. I usually like using cheddar because of its sharpness)

350 grams Parmesan cheese (the dry Parmesan cheese! Save the rest for the next time you have Pizza night)

Egg wash (crack a few eggs and whisk it up – I don’t add any milk or water but you’re welcome to do so. Adding milk or water lightens the wash, and I like to have a nice, yellowy color to my egg wash, especially for this particular recipe)

Shredded cheese for sprinkling (yum!)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine the flour and corn start together
  3. Combine the shredded cheese and Parmesan cheese together
  4. Beat butter until smooth using a mixer. Add eggs slowly as you continue to beat the butter. Mix well.
  5. Using a spatula, add the rest of dry ingredients, starting with the flour and corn starch combination. Add the cheese and mix well until all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
  6. Lay a plastic saran wrap on your work surface. Or you can generously flour your counter top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough flat on the surface until you get about 1/3 in of thickness.
  7. Use a knife to cut the dough into rectangular pieces or use a mold.
  8. Once your dough is ready, carefully place them onto a baking sheet and brush each one with the egg wash that you prepared.
  9. Finish by adding shredded cheese on top of the brushed dough.
  10. Bake in 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-18 minutes.

 

That’s it! In 10 easy steps, you can enjoy these delicious savory cookies. They’re great to snack on and also make an excellent gift!

 

 

 

An Introduction

Hi and welcome! I’m Grace, and this little blog is my own little food diary. I love to cook and bake, watch TV and movies, read wonderful work of literature and write random stories that popped in my head and fan fictions, sing in the shower, and like many millennials, browse the internet.

I graduated from college in 2014 and started to work full-time right away. I thought that once I left school, I would have more time to cook and bake. Boy, was I wrong! Long gone are the days that I wake up at 9 or 10 am, make myself a hearty breakfast, go to class, come home, nap, make a yummy lunch full of protein and vegetables, snack on the go, more classes, work, and finally ending the day with a nice glass of wine and a delicious home-cooked meals.

I’ve spent the last two years working on a college campus as an Event Planner. One of perks about my job is finding delicious food all over town to serve at our next event. Each and every day, I learn something new – whether it’s about wine pairing from our local restaurant’s sommelier to the advantages of using food in every-day uses (probiotic night cream, anyone?).

My goals for this blog is: 1) rediscover my passion and love for cooking, baking, and food in general; 2) to share delicious recipes that have been handed down to me, recipes that I’ve discovered from watching the Food Network, recipes that I’ve created or re-created based on inspirations from my latest epic meal; 3) and finally, I hope that this is a long-lasting project that will allow me to connect with other food enthusiasts and something that I can share with my friends and family.