Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Bakes

I wasn't quite sure how this years Halloween baking was going to come along. I just kind of went the ol' fashioned route and decided to bake and decorate some cupcakes and cookies. Here are my final products! I dunno what it is about Halloween that gets me all in the creative spirit, but I simply had to make each cupcake unique... and here there are...

Kooky Old-man-esque cookie... yup that's a cashew nose

Was supposed to be a pumpkin man... then he turned into a pink, punk, pumpkin dude

Cute Spider. I used Pocky vegetable sticks, M&M's and chipits

This one kind of reminds me of Doraemon. I used Pocky vegetable sticks, a tic-tac, a chipit and two mini fuzzy-peaches for his eyes.

Monster Cyclops Star Thing. There's an M&M, regular candy corn, caramel candy corn, cinnamon-apple candy corn, and gummy vampire teeth

Green-horned cyclops. I used lime-tootsie rolls, tic-tacs and gave him an M&M + chipit eye

The Green-eyed monster. I used a marshmallow, colored coconut shreds, lime-tootsie rolls and an M&M

Random Graveyard of Randomness. There's oreo crumbs, coconut shreds, a pumpkin and two gummy ghosts.

Hehe.... one of my faves! The "shrunken head" cupcake. I used a marshmallow, chipits, and a Pocky stick.

The Purple Monster named Bob. Hmm... you can probably guess what I used to make him.

This one's got the wink down to an art. There's a chocolate skittle, vampire teeth, a pocky stick and a face-down gummy ghost for the winking eye! Who wouldn't love a face like that?!

Woah! That was fun eh? I think I have a thing for vampire teeth. They make awesome decorations for monster cupcakes. I also made a couple of the dirt (oreo crumbs) + gummy worms/spiders cupcakes. But I figure you've seen enough of those there's no need for pictures. Happy Halloweening everyone... get lots of candy (or in my case, go to Safeway and buy a lot of discount candy on Nov 1st!) and enjoy brushing your teeth all night long :P

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

I was tagged by Camille at Rtemis. Her blog is quite the epicurean feast for the eyes. I simply love reading her posts and I really enjoyed reading her tag-post. I'm sure anyone who reads my blog, will love reading hers... go visit! Anywho, on with the tag... here are 7 random facts about yours truly:

1. I'm addicted to Gintama, both the anime and the manga!
2. My favorite genre of music is indie/brit rock
3. My current favorite TV show is Dr. Who!
4. I'm a 3rd year nursing student (one more year to go! Woot!)
5. I love dressing up and trick-or-treating (yes, I still do it... even though I'm in my 20's)
6. I can literally spend one-and-a-half hours in the grocery store and not buy anything *gasp* I know... but apparently I'm super picky about a) quality b) quantity c) price
7. I've been to 3 comedy clubs in the past 2 weeks and have loved every single show!

You're It!:
Crazy Asian Gal
Fried Wontons 4 U
Noob Cook
Obsessed With Baking
Somewhere in Singapore
The Weather Down Here <-- my friend has just recently become a blogger! only one post thus far, but still I'm proud *sniff*
So Good Blog

Here are the rules for tagging.
Link to my blog (tagger) on your blog.
Give seven facts about yourself.
Tag another seven blogs by leaving a comment on their blog and letting them know they were tagged and listing them (and their blogs) on your blog.

October's Daring Bakers Challenge: BBQ Chicken Pizza

I know I've been silent for a long, long time... but don't count me out of the baking scene just yet. I'm still raring to go and baking up a storm. Today, I just realized that I was way behind on the Daring Baker's Challenge for this month. I don't know how I simply forgot about it, but I wasn't about to let the challenge pass me by. I decided to make pizza for lunch this afternoon and the daring baker's recipe turned out splendid! Anywho, here's the recipe... with my topping of BBQ Chicken and a hodge-podge of veggies. The recipe actually makes a lot of bread dough, and I wasn't sure if everyone else in my family wanted pizza, so I made a couple "special" buns with the excess dough. I'll post the picture of my "special" bun at the end of this post ... kinda forces you to read the entire post eh?! I'm sneaky... "Hey! Don't even think about scrolling to the bottom... I mean it :P"

Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart
Yields 6 (9-inch) pizza crusts

- 4 1/2 Cups unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
- 1 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) olive or vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE (I did mine in one day!)
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer)
2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.
4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.
7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

For my BBQ Chicken Pizza, I used only the best-quality ingredients :P
- Freshly sliced onions
- Freshly diced tomatos
- Bull's Eye BBQ Sauce (Hickory Smoke)
- Oven Roasted Chicken shredded
- Freshly grated, medium-aged cheddar cheese

I must say, I've made my fair share of pizzas before, but this recipe was pretty darn good! I ate up a whole 3 pieces (okay, that may not seem like a lot... but I'm tiny, and have a small stomach). The BBQ sauce was wonderfully tangy, and the chicken was seasoned very nicely (thank you Superstore). The tomatoes added a nice juiciness to the pizza and the onions were baked to perfection, tasting not too strong but still maintaining their crispness.
Yeah! I've completed the DB challenge, just in the nick of time. Oh, and before I forget... here's my "special bun"...

Mmmm... should make a nice quick lunch for tomorrow (that's mayo on top by the way... not a fried white worm :P) Just needs some ketchup, corn and chives and I've got myself a T&T like chinese bun!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yikes it's been a long time...

AH! I can't believe I haven't blogged in over a week! What's wrong with me?! Well, the truth is that I've been all caught up with school and... um, Gin Tama! Yes, I know I'm such an otaku (anime-obsessed person). But seriously, Gin Tama is hilarious and I don't care if it's shonen (written for teen boys)... it's freaking awesome!!!

Anywho, I wouldn't just write a post about how obsessed I am with that manga... I'm also writting to post a recipe! It's a pretty tame one by any standard but here is my recipe for Bailey's-coated Almonds.

Bailey's-Coated Almonds

- 4 cups raw almonds
- 3 tbsp Baileys Irish Creme
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon

1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the irish creme and the egg white until well blended.
2. Add in the almonds, toss to coat
3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt and cinnamon.
4. Add sugar mixture to the almond mixture and toss together until all almonds have a good coating of sugar.
5. Place the almonds on a greased baking-sheet, in a single layer, and bake at 325degrees for 20 minutes, or until nicely toasted but not burnt.

I guess the reason I made this recipe is that my dad had bought this huge package of raw almonds from Costco and no one was touching it besides him and me (and let me tell you, that's slow pickings). So, in order to "trick" my mom and sister into eating the healthy nuts I had to coat them in something sugary-sweet... and guess what? It worked!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I didn't really end up do a whole lot of baking this thanksgiving. The family was simply ready to accept that the long-weekend had arrived and relax! Yeah! Nothing better to do with the family than just kick back and catch up on some much needed rest. But of course, if everyone rests during the big day (which we celebrate on Sunday) then there will obviously be no turkey dinner :P Good thing we realized this in time and got crackin' on some thanksgiving dinner prep. My dad was in charge of the turkey, as he always is... we always end up getting the smallest turkey there is, because we usually have so many sides that it's almost impossible to finish the entire turkey (even given an entire week to do so!) My mom was in charge of the roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts. I was in given free reign to cook up some yams and pop-overs... and our good friend "stove-top" was ready and willing to whip up some tasty stuffing :P

Here's the turkey, accompanied by it's friends: potato, stuffing and butter-laden brussel sprouts!

Raisin, Red Onions and Rum Sweet Potatoes

- 1 kg sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup raisins, soaked in 3 tbsp of dark rum (for at least 10mins)
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
- Salt and pepper to taste

1. Toss together the sweet potatoes and vegetable oil and spread out on a baking sheet, making sure to coat all the pieces of sweet potato with oil
2. Add the molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the sweet potatoes. Mix well until all of the pieces are seasoned.
3. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 10mins.
4. Remove pan from oven, and add the raisin+rum mixture and the apple cider (deglazing the pan and preventing the potatoes from burning)
5. Add in the red onions and continue to bake the entire mixture at 350 degrees for another 20mins or until the potatoes are tender.

Hehehe... my dinky (yet tasty) looking cheesy popovers.
Get the recipe: HERE

All-in-all, for a pretty low-key Thanksgiving we had a blast. We spent a lot of time attempting to carve the turkey "properly" but then kinda gave up and ripped it apart (see the first pick for proof). It was great to just forget about school and the stresses of life and simply give thanks for being in good-health and being with family! Here's wishing all of you a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Betty Crocker E-Book!

How awesome is it to have more free stuff?! Betty Crocker seems to be jumping on the free e-book band-wagon and I couldn't be happier. So, here's the link to another fantastic cookbook with tons of recipes, enjoy!

Whole Wheat Baking

To check my past posts regarding free e-books, click here.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Coconut Rum and Brazil Nut Shortbread

Not quite sure why I was in the mood to make something tropical. I haven't been thinking about going anywhere in the caribbean, or been listening to tropical-island music or anything. I guess as I sat in my kitchen, trying to think about what I could possibly make with the ingredients I had on-hand, it just struck me. I had some left-over brazil nuts, and some leftover malibu rum! So, what better thing to do then to combine them into a nice buttery bit-sized cookie?!

Coconut Rum and Brazil Nut Shortbread

(Yields 16 bite sized cookies)


- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature

- 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

- 1 tsp artificial rum extract

- 2 tsp Malibu coconut rum

- 1/8 tsp salt

- 1 cup all-purpose flour

- 3/4 cup brazil nuts, salted, lightly roasted and smashed into tiny chunks


1. Preheat the oven to 350degrees

2. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in rum extract, Malibu and salt; combining until the dough comes together.

3. Add in the smashed nuts until well incorporated.

4. Take heaping tablespoons of dough and roll them into spheres. Roll these spheres of dough in the remaining sugar and place on a baking sheet. Continue forming cookies until all the dough is used up. If you want, you may sprinkle more sugar on the cookies.

5. Flatten the spheres slightly with a glass (touching up the cookies if necessary). Place in the oven and bake for 15mins or until golden.

6. Cool cookies on a wire rack, share and enjoy!

These cookies, although small, pack a really intense flavor. I simply love the brazil nuts, and will definitely be using them in my baking adventures sometime in the near future (although they are kind of expensive). Hmmm... I wonder what I could possibly use brazil nuts in (besides cookies that is)?