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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!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s too commercialized for me, or so I tell myself that ;)

I do always like a good opportunity (excuse) for baking/crafting though, so I made this heart shape red velvet cake for Valentine’s Day. My original plan was to decorate the cake with piping some shell shaped icings on, but I realized the cream cheese frosting is too soft because I didn’t put A LOT of powdered sugar in it (I don’t like things too sweet). So I came up with this crumbled cake decoration which worked out great for me.

ANYWAY—Happy Valentine’s Day to all <3

<recipe provided made 2 heart shaped red velvet cakes>
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
·     3/4 cup shortening (I used butter because I didn’t have shortening)
·     2 1/2 cups sugar
·     3 eggs
·     3 tablespoon cocoa
·     3 tablespoon red food coloring (I used about ½-3/4 teaspoon gel paste food coloring)
·     3 cups cake flour
·     1/2 teaspoon salt
·     1 1/2 cup buttermilk
·     1 1/3 teaspoon vanilla
·     1 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
·     1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1.   Preheat oven to 350. Line cake pan with parchment paper (I used my 2 8*8 square cake pan).
2.   Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Slowly add cocoa and food coloring. Soft together cake flour and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk beginning and ending with flour. Add in vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.
3.   Mix baking soda and vinegar together. Add and stir until combined.
4.   Bake for 30 minutes. 

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
·    20 ounce cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
·    3 tablespoon butter, softened
·    1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
·    1 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.

Cake Assembly
1.   Level the cake: chop off the heaping part of the cake horizontally.
2.   Carve the cake into a heart shape and slice horizontally so that there are two thinner pieces of the cake.
3.   Cover the bottom piece of cake with frosting, then stick the top piece on. Cover the whole cake with frosting (around and the top part). Crumble the extra cake pieces as decoration and put it around the cake.  
4.   Let the cake chill in the freezer for 30 minutes then add another layer of frosting to the top part of the cake. Doing this will allow the last layer of the frosting to cover any cake crumbles that gets into the icing (i.e. so the top part of the cake looks cleaner/prettier). Decorate the little heart shape with the rest of the crumbled cake with care. I used a knife to draw an outline of the heart shape on the frosting and just carefully press the cake crumbs onto the cake.

Enjoy it with a cup of tea!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Please Excuse the Interruption

We recently established our own little walking club called SPWC to get us out of the house once in a while and help us work off all the cookies we eat :) This Friday out meeting was cut a bit short. The weekend was calling and we got distracted by food! Of course!

We made a spontaneous trip to 85oC Bakery for amazing fresh bread and pastries. This chain originated in Taiwan and has a few locations in SoCal. It is almost always packed but is worth waiting for! I wanted to post pictures of our treats, but they didn't last long enough so we must go again to show you.

After dessert we had dinner at a Mongolian hot pot restaurant. We may have gotten a little carried away and ordered too much food but it is hard not to with all the fresh veggie and meat options.

We didn't get much walking done at this meeting but we certainly had a wonderful and random adventure!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Words Just Can’t Describe This Experience

She was everything I thought she would be—beautiful, intelligent, strong, and

Her name is Seymour, she is a bottlenose dolphin. She was 5 months pregnant when I met her, along with another dolphin’s 7-month old baby dolphin in training (Baby doesn’t have a name yet, so I just called her Baby). She must’ve been the prettiest creature I get to observe up close in person (sorry Koalas, you’re super cute too). I had the chance to swim with Seymour and Baby, play with them, k

iss them, and observe their body structures including teeth, tongues, blowholes, and etc.

It still feels like a dream! And I smile every time I think of Seymour. I hope someday I’ll get to repeat this AWESOME adventure :)

Blog Worthy—Message Approved by Cookie Monster and Ice Cream Muncher

*Disclaimer: this blog REALLY isn’t just about various kinds of chocolate chip cookies, I SWEAR.

“So did you get a picture for blogging before we finished it?” said Cookie Monster, wiping her mouth.

“No, well I wasn’t….”

“What! That was GOOD, blog worthy good! Why didn’t you take pictures?!”

So here I am, waking up “early” so I can get good day light for pictures. It is right now 12:59pm *cough*, I can proudly say I had been awake for a good…….30 minutes? It was an improvement from yesterday anyway!

I made these malted chocolate chip cookies (CCC) last night, because…well I guess we don’t need reasons for baking desserts, do we? They finally turned out right this time so I was super excited and made ice cream sandwiches out of them! Mmmmm. I also made myself a cup of malted milk last night before going to bed (To Noel: that’s why I had picked up milk last night at the market hehe). When can I ever lose my targeted 10 pounds I would never know :D

PS. I halved the recipe below which gave me 20 3.5inch cookies.

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Pioneer Woman


  • 1 cup (2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 cups Golden Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup (rounded) Malted Milk Powder
  • 1 bag (12 Ounce) Milk Chocolate Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cream butter, then add both sugars and cream until fluffy. Add eggs and beat slightly, then add vanilla and beat until combined. Add malted milk powder and beat until combined.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, beating gently until just combined.
  4. Add chocolate chips and stir in gently.
  5. Drop by teaspoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Bake less if you want chewy cookies; more if you want crispy cookies.

  6. Optional: Allow to cool completely, then use two cookies to make an ice cream sandwich. Add sprinkles to the sides of the ice cream, then wrap individually in plastic wrap.

Based on experiences (both times), it only took my oven 10 minutes to make VERY CRISPY (right before it starts tasting like burnt) cookies. The baking time really does depend on the different ovens, and because these are very thin cookies they will burn, FAST. I’d say start checking them at 8 minutes.Use a cookie scoop and level off the top of the dough so they can all be the same size! I used chopped pecans for the sides of the ice cream sandwich because I didn’t have sprinkles—HEALTHIER substitute (?). Any nuts will do! We think they taste better than sprinkles.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week I made the famous New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies!

They were so yummy and magical Noel and I decided we had to start a blog just so we could tell the world. We also plan to tell you about all our random adventures! Hope you enjoy :)
The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 18 3-inch cookie 

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds chocolate chips

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla. Reduce to low speed and add dry ingredients slowly, mixing until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 24-36 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet, press lightly to flatten the dough, and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or till light golden brown at edges.

Based on my experience, the cookies really do taste better after the dough has been refrigerated for 24-36 hours. Don't skip this step! It's worth the wait.

Next time I plan to make these delicious cookies extra special by making them larger (at least 5" in diameter) and using Valrhona Feves, instead of traditional chocolate chips. These special chips will create luxurious layers of chocolate throughout the cookies, making them even more decadent!

- Jamie

Friday, February 3, 2012