August 6, 2010 § 29 Comments
It’s really nice to be at home, not only because I won’t have to take as much care of myself (:mrgreen:), I can go to bed at whatever hour that pleases me, which is in my case, 10 pm. I find that 10pm-6am is the optimal hours of sleep for me, as I feel the most rested if I sleep at these hours. Any other hours, 11pm-7am, midnight-8am, or 9pm-5am, won’t do. Although they are all full 8 hours, for some reason my body seems to like 10pm-6am the most.
According to Ayurveda, each person has his/her own optimal sleep hours. Being a kapha myself, my optimal sleep hours are, well whaddya know, 10pm-6am. While others may benefit more by sleeping later and waking up later, this is what is right for me.
+ Do you have “optimal sleeping hours”?
And of course, home, Taiwan, means glorious food.
And let’s not forget that I can bake, bake, and bake!
WARNING: The following contents may not be suitable for readers who are prone to excessive drooling, munchie attacks, or addiction to sweets.
Baking #1: Simple Biscotti
Biscotti (pronounced /bɪˈskɒti/, Italian pronunciation: [bisˈkɔtti]) more correctly known as biscotti del PratoEnglish: biscuits of Prato), also known as cantuccini (English: corners), are a twice-baked cake originating in the Italian city of Prato. The cakes are large almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven. [Source: Wikipedia]
- 65 g (~5 Tbsp) Dark brown sugar
- 70 g (~5 Tbsp) Light brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 30 g (~2 Tbsp) butter
- 2 tsp Brandy (or other similar liquor)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 360 g (~3 cups) All-purpose flour
- 2 g (~1/2 tsp) baking powder
- 2 g (~1/2 tsp) baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 160 g (~2/3 cup )mixed unsalted nuts
Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Using electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugars for about 2 minutes until slightly goopy.
Add melted butter, the brandy, and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.
Sift together (optional, but makes for finer powder) flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the egg mixture. Mix till just combined.
Then mix in the nuts.
Now comes the sticky part. Put a good amount of flour on your hands and on a flat surface. Transfer half the dough out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and shape into a long, flat rectangular (less than half an inch in height). If your oven and baking sheet are big enough, you can put the other half onto the sheet as well.
Bake at 320 degrees for 20 minutes. The results will be bread-like.
When cool enough, cut the “bread” into about half an inch thickness.
Lay them down on a side. They can be touching each other since they won’t rise anymore. Bake that side at 284 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip to the other side and bake another 10 minutes. Finally, stand them up (as pictured below) and bake for 10 minutes.
These are surprisingly crunchy biscuits–perfect for a light snack or afternoon tea!
Baking #2: Brownies
Adapted from Let’s Dish
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup (or more!) walnuts (optional)
I actually doubled this recipe because I was making it for a large crowd.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or line with parchment paper). Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan at low heat, stirring occasionally and making sure the butter doesn’t bubble or overheat. Remove from heat.
Stir in the sugar and vanilla into the melted butter, then quickly whisk in the eggs one at a time.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry mixture. Stir till just combined. If adding nuts, add them in just before everything is well combined, then mix till combined.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.
You should probably test for doneness at about 20 minutes. Use the toothpick test. The brownie is probably done if the toothpick comes out almost clean, but not quite. Here’s the trick to brownies. If you wait till the toothpick comes out clean, the brownie will become slightly too dry when cooled. It’s better if the inside is still a little gooey so that it becomes the perfect degree of moistness and fudginess when cooled. 😀
Alot of you seemed to be slightly surprised/confused about the Matcha shaved ice with sweet adzuki beans in my last post.
Matcha is a finely-milled powder used to make Japanese green tea. It has a more intense flavor than your average green tea. Besides making tea, the matcha powder is also widely used in desserts in East Asian cuisines (ice cream, candies, lattes, milkshakes, smoothies, cakes, pudding, mousse, etc, etc, etc!). Matcha also has 137 times the amount of antioxidants than your average green tea.
Adzuki beans are commonly slightly sweetened in the East Asian culture, and also often incorporated into desserts (thick jelly, ice cream, candies, red bean soup, and as a complement to the slightly bitter matcha). Sometimes they are boiled with sugar to result in a sweet red bean paste, which is often used as fillings in biscuits, pastries, and baked buns.
Speaking of matcha and adzuki beans, I may or may not have a baking endeavor involving these two in the near future. Stay posted! 😀
August 4, 2010 § 32 Comments
Back in the days when I was still a little kid (how I wish I could turn back time!), I would go to this one summer camp year after year. Like any summer camps, we had our camp songs that we would sing near and dear to our hearts. I remember so clearly that Tuesdays and Thursdays were Pool Days, meaning we got to go on the school bus and go on a field trip to the swimming pool! On those days, we would sing this song:
Swimming, swimming, in the swimming pool
The day is hot, the day is cold, in the swimming pool!
Breath stroke, side stroke, fancy diving too
But don’t you wish you can have, anything else to do!
This morning, I did just that! I went swimming at the pool in our community. And by swimming, i didn’t mean your splish-splash type, but swimming laps. It’s a great total-body workout!
I did about 35 min of alternating free-style and breath strokes.
True story: I used to be deathly scared of water when I was little. I took my first swimming lesson when I was 6 or so. I accidentally swallowed and choked on lots of water, and refused to take another swimming lesson from then on. Finally during 3rd grade, we were required to take some sort of swimming lesson for our P.E. class. I had no choice but to face my fears as I, once again, tackled to put my head under water. I realized during that first class that I liked swimming. It felt so calm and serene under the water, and I loved the way that I could float around like I was in outer space.
+ What was a fear that you had as a kid, but had to face eventually?
After much bumming around in the house these past few days, I finally got to meet up with one of my high school friends today! For lunch, I requested we go to another vegetarian restaurant.
The restaurant was located at the entrance/exit of a trail–just perfect for hungry hikers! But alas, we didn’t go hiking today (toooooooooo hot!), but I was still hangry from my swim in the morning!
For starter, we had a small salad with passionfruit dressing and pumpkin soup. Both are to die for!!! And I’m not even close to exaggerating.
For my main course, I had Pumpkin Rice Noodles (very tasty!) that was loaded with mushrooms and veggies.
While my friend S got the Mushroom Risotto. Last time I was here I got this dish too, and it was the best risotto I’ve had. Ever. (Sorry for the blurry pic)
The meal was followed by a light dessert, Lavendar Tea Jello, and iced tea with an apple slice!
I only managed to finish half of my noodles, so I asked the waitress to pack it to-go for me, thinking that it’d make a yummy lunch another day. Ugh, and now I can’t believe I actually forgot it there! 😦
The heat made us want to hide in cold, air-conditioned buildings. What better ways to satisfy our needs to be cooled than hiding in a dark and chilly movie theater? Off we went to see some booty-kickin’ Angelina Jolie.
Like always, she totally rocked her role, and I was absolutely diggin’ her in the black hair!
We killed time at a mini arcade while waiting for the movie. S is the master of the master of these claw machines. I kid you not!
The results? Pacman and his little jellyfish friend. Actually, S managed to get me two jellyfishies 😀
Okay, so here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for–the recipe for the cookies I made yesterday.
Muesli Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup Muesli
- 1/2 whole wheat flour
- 3-4 Tbsp chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1/4 cup (or less) honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Then, in a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and blend.
Add the dry to the wet and mix with spatula till only combined.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart (they don’t rise much). Bake for 10-12 minutes.
These cookies are moist and chewy! One bite equals a chockful of grainy touch from the muesli!
Not enough salivating cues from this post? I leave you with this:
Matcha fluffy-shaved ice with sweet adzuki beans! The shaved ice has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Enjoy!
July 28, 2010 § 21 Comments
If you’re looking for me, I’m probably doing one of these following:
- On the way to Los Angeles Int’l Airport (LAX).
- In LAX, waiting for my 12:50 AM flight.
- On a 13 hr flight homebound to Taiwan.
- Super jetlagged and no desire whatsoever to blog.
In the meantime…
Classiest video ever.
And something DELICIOUS I ate today.
I seriously can’t for the life of me remember where I got this recipe from. If it was yours, please tell me so I can credit you for it!
2 Minute Chocolate Cake
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp almond milk
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 Tbsp agave (I used honey)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp oil (I replaced with apple sauce)
Mix everything in a bowl till incorporated. Microwave on high for 1 min or 1.5 min, depending on your microwave. EAT!
I had mine with sunflower seed butter. YUM in a BOWL and in 2 MIN.
+ Got any cool/funny videos to share? I’m always in search of hilarious YouTube videos. I watch them when I’m upset, bored, frustrated. They always cheer me up!
July 25, 2010 § 22 Comments
The banana pancakes this morning kept me full for 4 full hours! It must be the combination of bananas plus whole grains and some protein! Definitely a keeper of a recipe.
As if we didn’t get enough eggs last night, the star of my lunch today were…eggs.
I used Allie’s method of cooking her eggs, and by golly, they indeed turned out beautiful! How shameful of me to cover them in nooch before I took a picture to do them justice. 😐
The eggs were on a bed of spinach and arugula, with some sugar snap peas, red pepper, roasted eggplants, and roasted sweet potatoes on the side. Can’t have roasted sweet potatoes without the ketchup!
I don’t know what took me so long to try date + nut butter, but it totally blew me away when I popped this bite-sized dessert in my mouth!
Like what any normal person would do on a lovely Sunday afternoon, we window-shopped at this beautiful outdoor mall called Victoria Gardens in the P.M.
I guess my legs were a bit tired and sore from the long-a$$ bike ride yesterday, so we came home for some splashing in the pool. While we were in the jacuzzi (hot tub) to end our splashing session, these two little girls (3 and 7 maybe?) joined us. At first I was playing with them, so I cupped my hands to get some foam and blew it at them. You know, for fun. They returned the foam blowing. At first it was just friendly and fun, and then they started to get violent! They’d put the foam on my head and pat my head, hard. They also splashed me in my face with the warm water :(. Now that’s not cool. I know, I know, they’re just kids, and I do love playing with kids. But sometimes they need to know when they’re stepping out of the line!
- 3 La Tortilla Low-Carb tortillas
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup feta
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- salt & pepper
But first, the onion broke my fragile little heart. It laughed at me as I shed tears and cursed at it.
Well, I’m a tough girl so for my sweet revenge I sauteed it with some mushrooms in a little olive oil. I added the spinach to block out its glistening, golden eyes. I dumped everything onto the “crust” that was simply 3 layers of tortillas, and buried the onion deeper with the feta cheese.
I mixed the 2 eggs plus the yogurt in a bowl and whisked till well incorporated. I poured the egg mixture over everything.
I put the okras that I got on Thursday to use. I usually eat them steamed with some soy sauce, but this time I decided to roast them. It was a good plan 😀
A wholesome meal!
Oh onions, why must you cry and turn the crust soggy? Well, I believe the yogurt was his accomplice too. See, I used plain yogurt which contained more water than your regular greek yogurt. Gosh darn it, I should have strained the plain yogurt first!
Now go and enjoy your Sunday evening!
+ What are you favorite shops at the mall?
July 25, 2010 § 21 Comments
…I was finally home.
Because of last week’s whale-watching fail, Dmitri and I braved the chance of biking those long 50 miles out to Newport beach. The roads were ugly alot of the time, with bumps and dips, and there were a few long stretches of uphill roads.
I filled my bottles with coconut water, which I finished within 2 hrs of our bike trip. It was so sweet and refreshing!
15 times the potassium? YES PLEASE! 😀
I also made myself an apple + brie sandwich on ab Ezekiel Sesame Toast for lunch.
Of course I had to bring some sort of snack. Enter: Mama Pea’s KIND bar.
…which turned out kind of soggy (everything was sort of falling apart!). I blamed it on the maple syrup (I should have used honey instead). I wrapped the somewhat more solid ones in plastic wrap and took them on the road. It’s just as delicious if you simply scoop the “dough” and eat them straight like that :D.
0 hr (7:10am). Little did Trekmeister and Ms. Gianta know that their mountain bike frames were going to be tested on the road.
25 miles and 2 hrs and 30 min later, I was exhausted.
28 miles and 2 hrs 45 minutes later, Dmitri got a punctured and flat tire. Fortunately, while I sat in Subway as Dmitri biked over to the nearest Target to get some rubber stuffings, he met a couple of bikers who happened to have equipments & tools on them!
28 miles and 4 hrs later, I called it quits. I’m usually not one to give up easily, but my quads were burning and my knees were starting to act up. I didn’t want to strain my knees because I have really bad knees!
5 hrs later, we were still circling around the city of Fullerton trying to find the nearest train station. Dmitri recently got the new Android phone and he was using the GPS on his phone to look for the Metrolink station. All the GPS did was take us in a big circle.
7 hrs later, we finally hopped onto the train heading to L.A. Union Station.
8 hrs and 25 min later, our train to Claremont departed from L. A. Union Station.
9 hrs and 5 min later, we arrived at Claremont and biked 2 miles back home.
9 hrs and 30 min later, with more than 28 miles behind me, 2 burning quads, and 1 sore butt, I was home.
I did a full on Savasana the moment I stepped into the house. Whale-watching still did not happen, but it will, it will, I PROMISE!
11 hrs and 30 min later, we celebrated our failure with McDonald’s McElaine’s.
On the menu:
- Egg McMuffin (one fried egg and melty cheese)
- Chicken McNuggets Boca McNuggets
- French fries Carrot fries
- Real fruit smoothie (yes real watermelon!)
I haven’t been to the Golden M in almost 6 years. I don’t plan to ever go there when I got this!
Dmitri got creative and made In & Out-inspired animal (carrot) fries!
Everything was lip-smacking delicious! And you bet I went back for more Boca McNuggets ;-).
After that lonnnnng day, I still had to drag my butt to lab for about an hour or so. I came home and was barely awake as I mindlessly skimmed through some blogs.
15 hrs and 10 min later (10:20 pm), I crashed onto the sweet comfort of my bed, and snoozed till 7 this morning. I feel so refreshed now!
Yesterday, Dmitri brought this banana on the road but didn’t get a chance to eat it. The poor banana barely made it.
Heat + bumpy roads = no good for bananas.
Well, with a banana like that, I can only think of one thing for the morning: Banana Pancakes!
Quick Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes
(adapted from Green Lite Bites)
- 1 large overripe banana
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (forgot to add this, but still turned out a-okay!)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg I used cinnamon because I didn’t have any of this
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
Mash the banana in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and the milk. Whisk till light and frothy.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix till just combined.
Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Pour desired amount of batter into pan and cook about 1-2 min on one side, or till small bubbles form. Flip and cook the other side for another 1-2 min.
I made 4 small pancakes and 3 large ones.
Drizzled with watered-down PB2! I’m telling you PB2 makes the perfect pancake topper!
Pancakes with a side of yogurt for dippers and blueberries.
Have a fantastic Sunday!
+ Do you know how to make perfectly smooth and even pancakes? I need help! My pancakes always turn out blotchy, with uneven brown spots!
July 23, 2010 § 21 Comments
When I saw these gorgeous sunflowers at the Farmer’s market last night, I knew I had to get them. $5 for a bouquet of sunflowers? That’s definitely a steal! Sunflowers are my fav and I thought it’d brighten my home :D.
Other finds from the Farmer’s market:
KETTLE CORN!!! Zucchini ($1.00/lb), OKRAS!!!, and a huge package of ground flaxseeds for $4 only! I was very very pleased :mrgreen:.
I had a killer breakfast after my run this morning…pancakes! It’s a new recipe that I jotted down before I went to bed last night.
Amazing Banana Surprise Oatmeal Pancakes
- 1/3 cups oats
- one egg white (3 Tbs)
- one scoop chocolate protein powder (15 g)
- one scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Infusion
- 2-3 Tbs almond milk (or any other milk you like)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- sliced bananas
Mix everything except the bananas in a bowl, and let sit for a couple of minutes. Spray a pan with cooking spray, and heat it up on medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, turn heat down the medium. Scoop out about 2 Tbs of mixture for each pancakes (I made 3 small ones). Place one sliced banana in the middle of each pancake. Let it cook for about two minutes before flipping the pancakes over. Cook for another 2 min.
Arrange pancakes on a plate. Serve with your favorite toppings and devour!
I topped mine with watered down PB2 so that it has a runny consistency.
The amazing pancakes were accompanied by some sweet peaches and yogurt.
Banana surprise! (I had lousy picture-taking skills this morning)
Because of the Amazing Grass I did see some green specks in my pancakes. Some greens in the early morning don’t hurt right? Besides, I know all of you like downing Green monster smoothies in the morning too!
Yowza, these pancakes made me feel suuuppppperrrr energetic and awake afterwards!
Anyhooz, thanks Wei-Wei for notifying me that the cartoons that I posted in my last post weren’t showing up. Hopefully I’ve fixed it! Take a break, get some LOL’s in your system here.
Oh Friday…you are beautiful.
July 17, 2010 § 14 Comments
I know, I know. I’ve been gone for too long. Two days in the real world is equivalent to 2 weeks in the blogland. Hah, I feel like I’m referencing Inception. GREAT movie by the way. It really got my mind all out of whack when I left the theaters last night. I swear I was in some sort of daze for 20 min afterwards, just thinking about the complexity of the mind, the conscious, the subconscious, the super-subconscious, the super super-subconscious…
Personally, I think the mind has nth dimensions.
Well, I don’t want to give too much of a spoiler for those who haven’t seen it yet. It’s something that you must pay attention to for the entire length of the movie, or else you can get easily confused. I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated so hard on a movie before. Ever.
So two weeks two days away from the blogland naturally ended with me having way too many pictures to share, so I’ll just give ya’ll some highlight ;-).
Did you know that cottage cheese melts superbly when heated up?
Did you know that thawed frozen spinach is delicious with marinara and cottage cheese (melted)?
Did you know that you can make pesto out of arugula?
Roasted Squash with Arugula Pesto
(Recipe inspired from here; the arugula pesto from the back of the package of arugula)
First blanch about 2 cups of packed arugula in boiling water. Immediately plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and use your hands to squeeze dry the leaves.
Also roasted some butternut squash at 350 degrees for 45 min, sprinkled with cumin.
Tip: roasted butternut squash is also very good topped with butt loads of parmesan cheese!
Did you know that I got a tub of mini plums for $3 (~a dozen) at the Farmer’s Market at La Verne on Thursday evening?
Did you know that I am currently obsessed with anything cheese + fruit related?
Speaking of the Farmer’s Market, there was some sort of “petting” area filled with goats, pigs, chickens, and bunnies there?
What can I say? It was a sight to see. I felt horribly sorry for the animals, because there were literally a dozen or more 3-8 year old kids in this tiny pen, all chasing after some animal or the other. Of course, there were lots of shrieking involved as the children ran after the bunnies.
At least this little girl seemed gentle enough to the chickens.
Did you know that Chai Spice totally blew my mind away?
Obviously, I needed something to munch on while I read this boring exhilarating paper. Upon first bite I was taken back to when I first tried chai tea. This bar totally captured the essence and the spice of a warm or cold cup of chai tea!
Needless to say, my last Kardea bar was pretty darn amazing too–the Lemon Ginger. I am now a sad little girl because I have finished all my Kardea bars :-(.
I loved all of the flavors of these Kardea bars. They are true to their words in terms of flavors. Each bar was unique in its taste and with each bite you always get hit by its intense aroma of either chai, ginger, almond, or banana. I am a satisfied taste-tester! 😀
Did you know that last night, my boyfriend and I went to a Thai restaurant, where we were constantly attacked by flies, and the waitress was swatting them just a table next to ours? Um…yeah. Not a very enticing atmosphere. The food sort of made up for it though, but I don’t think I’d go back to get attacked by flies or the fly-swatting lady again.
Hah! Dmitri was trying to act “Asian.”
My turn. I always laugh at the instructions on the chipstick slips.
I don’t know why I had that surprised look on my face. LOL I looked like a dork.
Did you know that this wrap made the perfect post-run breakfast this morning?
That pretty much sums up the past couple of days when I was MIA. We’re off whale-watching off the coast of Newport Beach this afternoon! Since it’s blue whales season, I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get to see some blue whales! 😀
Have a great Saturday!