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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Santa Anita Derby 5k

 Today was the Santa Anita 5k. It was a wonderful event!  The trail took us through the beautiful Los Angeles Arboretum and the Santa Anita Race track. There were also tons of freebies including a free beer garden. I can't wait to do it again next year.

Unexpected treat along the trail

All smiles after our run

Free food makes me oh so happy :)

Renaissance Pleasure Faire

When I saw a groupon for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, I knew it was an opportunity I could not say no to. I was very excited to take a peek into the Renaissance World and more importantly the people who make it come to life. I was not disappointed. There was in no way a shortage of colorful characters at the event. Needless to say it was a very interesting event ;)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Happy St. Patty's Day! This holiday is all about the Irish so I just had to make this cake:) It's a "grown up version" of a chocolaty, moist, dense cake with a subtle hint of a bitter after taste from the Guinness beer used in the recipe. Cream cheese frosting is a great compliment to the cake—as it is for many many other cakes (thank you cream cheese, I love you). It’s always fun to try out cakes with different ingredients!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Simply Recipe, makes one 8 or 9 inch round cake
·         1 cup stout or porter beer, such as Guinness
·         10 tablespoons unsalted butter
·         3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
·         1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
·         1/2 cups dark brown sugar
·         3/4 cup sour cream
·         2 eggs
·         1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
·         2 cups all-purpose flour
·         2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
·         1/4 teaspoon salt

1.      Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 8 or 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray (with flour) and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
2.      In a large saucepan place the beer and butter. Cook over medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Add the cocoa powder and sugars and whisk together. Take off heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
3.      In another bowl beat together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract until very, very well combined. Add to the butter-beer mixture and whisk together.
4.      In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the beer-butter mixture and whisk together until it just comes together. Pour into the prepared pan and give the pan a few short drops onto the countertop to shake the air pockets in the batter to the surface and out of the cake. Bake for 50-60 minutes (test the cake with toothpick at 50 minutes).
5.      Allow to cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan and pop the ring off the springform.
6.      Spread frosting on the cooled cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
·         12 ounce cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
·         2 tablespoon butter, softened
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1.      Cream cream cheese and butter.
2.      Beat in vanilla extract till combined. Add the sifted powdered sugar to the mixture slower and beat the frosting till combined and smooth.

1.      I cut the cake in halve to make two layers for more frosting:)
2.      I cut a shamrock shape out of piece of parchment paper, place it on the cake and dust cocoa powder for decoration to get the Irish look on!


Saturday, March 17, 2012


Every year for just a couple of weeks Horsetail Falls in Yosemite glows orange during sunset. Determined to see it, I recruited a couple of lovely ladies to join me in a whirlwind weekend trip to the park. Because this has been a rather dry year, the waterfall was almost nonexistent but we still got a beautiful taste of the phenomena.

Overall the trip was well worth it! We spent one day in the park and hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls, the highest water fall in North America. We had a wonderful time and reaffirmed that Yosemite is a natural wonder that everyone should take the time to visit.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chewy Green Tea (Matcha) White Chocolate Cookies

I don’t really LOVE drinking the traditional matcha all that much, but I LOVE matcha milk tea and matcha flavored sweets. Ice cream, cookies, cake…..YUM:)

Here’s what I came up with this weekend—chewy matcha cookies with white chocolate chunks.

Chewy Matcha White Chocolate Cookies:
Makes about 16 3-inch cookies
·         1 stick butter, softened
·         ¾ cup granulated sugar
·         1 cup + 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
·         ½ teaspoon baking soda
·         ½ teaspoon salt

·         2 tablespoon matcha powder (or more if needed)
·         1 egg yolk
·         ½ egg white (I just eyeballed it)
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         A little less than 4 oz white chocolate bar, chopped into chunks
1.       Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.       Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and matcha powder.
3.       Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
4.       Beat in egg yolk, egg white, and vanilla extract to butter-sugar mixture till combined.
5.       Stir in dry ingredients till just combined. Stir in white chocolate.
6.       Scoop up tablespoons of cookie dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
7.       Bake at 350°F for about 8 minutes.

1.      Use a cookie scoop to get uniformly sized round cookies (level off cookie dough from the scoop). I used Oxo Good Grip Medium Cookie Scoop and the cookies turned out about 3 inches.
2.      The dough can be store in the fridge for 5 days. But it should be brought back to room temperature before baking.
scooped cookie dough
right out the oven, still puffy but will set after cooling

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kasutera: Traditional Japanese Honey Cake from SCRATCH!

Warning: This is one of those very weird cake baking experience. The measurements in the recipes are a little bit more complicated than regular recipes. If you’re looking for a project to take away some time during a boring weekend, this is JUST RIGHT for you!

Kasutera with Bread Flour
Just when I think I can't make the phrase “from scratch” more literal, I DID! I found an awesome website with great recipes from a Japanese chef living in Taiwan while I was doing a search for Traditional Japanese honey cake recipe. Of course I got distracted by the numerous other recipes on the website and made a couple for dinner, but I still got around and made what I had in mind. I also did a little experiment on the different flours to see how it would make a difference on the texture! It was fun, and the result is GREAT! And you may ask what I meant by making “from scratch” more literal, well it’s because……I made the honey cake by starting with making the CAKE PAN! Now isn’t that fun:)
Kasutera with Cake Flour

Ps. When I used the word “traditional”, I meant that there is no additional emulsifier involved in this recipe, because many of the Kasutera sold by boxes I’ve seen at markets have it. The emulsifier helps oil dissolve in the cake batter and results in a more moist texture.

http://www.masa.tw/  if you can read Mandarin, you’ve got to check out this website. If you don’t…well that’s too bad. Haha jk. I might try out more recipes from him and post it up!

How to Make a Cake Pan
1.   Buy some newspaper. Preferably the cheapest one just because you’re not gonna be reading it. I grabbed The Wall Street Journal for no reason ($2 at starbucks, the most expensive kind—WHY), well I guess if you really want to know what’s going on in Wall Street.

     2. Cut 4-5 pages of the newspaper into the largest square you can get, by doing (1)
         The square should be about 57-58cm on each side (2).


3.  Then draw out measurements as such (3), and cut the red lines.

4.   Fold (all 4-5 pages together) all sides in to create the sides of the cake pan and make sure all sides are about 8.5cm as demonstrated. Fold each side to the adjacent side.

5.   Pop out your heavy duty 18inch foil and line this paper pan inside and out very well.

Home made cake pan!!

Kasutera (Traditional Japanese Honey Cake) Recipe
·      4 eggs, room temperature
·      ½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
·      25 ml milk (2 tablespoon, minus 2 teaspoon), slightly warmed
·      2 tablespoon honey
·      200g bread flour (½ cup + 2 tablespoon) OR 200g cake flour (½ cup + ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon)
1.   Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.   Mix eggs and sugar well in a glass mixing bowl.
3.   Dissolve the honey in warm milk completely.
4.   Put the mixing bowl in hot water, keep mixing the eggs and sugar on low till the mixture is warm.
5.   Take the bowl out of the warm water and turn the speed up to high, beat till the mixture is white and fluffy and that the mixture is about tripled in volume.
6.   Add the honey milk mixture to the egg mixture and mix well
7.   Mix in flour (bread OR cake, just one kind in one batch) in three small portions.
8.   Beat the batter on medium speed for 30-45 seconds till the batter is foamy and well mixed.
9.   Line the cake pan with parchment paper. Pour batter into the home made can pan. Scrap the cake batter to ensure there are no big air bubbles. Take the cake out after the first minute and scrap off any air bubble formed on the surface of the cake. Put the cake back into the oven and continue to bake for 30 minutes.
10.Check the cake at 30 minutes and see if the top is already very browned, cover the top of the cake pan with foil, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, till a toothpick comes out clean.
11.Let the cake cooled down to almost room temperature (still warm to touch) then wrap it air tight with plastic wraps and chill in the fridge overnight before eating. This will make the cake more moist--don't skip!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pizza Ideas

before baking (1)
This pizza dough recipe never fails! It’s easy (I’ve never really used yeast before I found this recipe, so if I can do it, YOU CAN TOO!), and it’s yummy—best combo ever I’d say!
I decided to make half of the pizza BBQ chicken and half of it with Roasted veggies for more variety.

Basic Pizza Sauce recipe (for roasted veggie or any other toppings you like)
·         1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
·         6 fluid ounces warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
·         3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
·         1 teaspoon minced garlic
·         2 tablespoons honey
·         3/4 teaspoon onion powder
·         1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
·         1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
·         1/4 teaspoon dried basil
·         1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
·         1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·         1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
·         salt to taste

1.      Mix all ingredients well. (I skipped a couple items that I didn’t have, i.e. marjoram)
2.      Let the sauce sit for at least 30min so the flavor can blend well

Basic Pizza Dough recipe (makes 2, I always refrigerate half and use it for another day. It can be refrigerate for up to 5 days.)
·         1 teaspoon Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
·         1-1/2 cup Warm Water
·         4 cups All-purpose Flour
·         1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
·         1/3 cup Olive Oil

1.      Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. Let stand for a few minutes.
2.      In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined, and the dough comes together in a sticky mass.
3.      Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours, or store in the fridge until you need it. <Note: it’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is better.>
4.      When you are ready to make the pizza, grab HALF the pizza dough (recipe makes 2 crusts) and squeeze the dough toward the bottom to form a nice, tight, pulled ball. You can roll out the pizza with a rolling pin if you’d like, but sometimes it’s just as easy to throw it around and pull and stretch till it feels right. And when the crust is nice and thin, lay it on an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and spread it with your fingers. Very lightly sprinkle some salt on the crust.
5.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Top your crust with your toppings of choice. Then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.

before baking (2)

BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe
·         1/2 pizza dough recipe from above
·         2 chicken breast fillets
·         BBQ sauce
·         1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
·         8oz fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
·         Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

1.      Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2.      Slather the chicken breasts with BBQ sauce. Bake the chicken breasts with the sauce in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Cube the BBQ chicken.
3.      Roll the pizza dough to desired shape and thickness. Arrange mozzarella cheese on it. Place thinly sliced red onion and BBQ chicken cubes on the cheese.
4.      Drop some more BBQ sauce on the pizza. Place it in the oven and bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and toppings are bubbly.
5.      Garnish pizza with fresh cilantro.
6.      EAT!