Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween cookies- Nutella to the rescue!

Making homemade treats for kids on Halloween is a time-honored tradition that this year, I've decided to join in myself.
Originally, I had planned on making chocolate "Mummy" cookies with M&M eyes, and bloody marshmallow treats. However, when I checked the pantry today, there was no cocoa powder and no grape juice! I was strapped for time and in need of a chocolate cookie recipe that didn't require any cocoa powder or baking chocolate.
Then my eyes happened to rest upon this lifesaver:

Total "Heaven Hallelujah" moment. (And by the way this whole post is pretty much an ode to how unprepared I can be at times.)

I used this super simple 3 ingredient nutella cookie recipe, but you can add any variety of variations, uch as adding some chocolate chips or chopped almonds, or melting ome mini marshmallows on top. Caramel would be great too...
I added 1/4 of a cup of peanut butter to make the nutty taste stand out more, but left the cookie mostly plain for further decoration.

*1 cup nutella
*1 cup flour
*1 egg

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) Mix all the ingredients together. The dough will be a bit crumbly but will hold.

(Yes I realize this looks quite dubious)

3.) Roll into 1 inch balls and then press down until they are round and flat
4.) Bake for 7-8 minutes

They don't turn out super pretty, but are quite delicious and not too sweet.

Then I drizzled them with vanilla frosting and put two Skittles to resemble eyes on top. I had originally planned on M&Ms to do that but couldn't find them, so I substituted with Skittles.

You can use a flat piper and make bandage-like strips (which was, again, what I had been planning on doing, but I had lost that particular piping tip so I had to make do with drizzling.)
or you can go creative and decorate it with skull heads and such. I was strapped for time and too tired to be creative, so the results were less fantastic as I would've liked the to be, but they still turned out great and plus I had everything done in under 30 minutes.
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My mother's birthday story

Yesterday it was my mother's birthday, so I concocted a birthday cake for her that turned into a one-way guilt trip to heaven.
You see, the story goes like this:

I started out making a simple dark chocolate cake from the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake recipe on the back of the box.

When I took it out of the oven, I couldn't resist having the tiniest sample.
It tasted rich, delicious, chocolatey, and not too sweet. Bafflingly, however, it stuck to my well-greased pan though the cake itself wasn't burnt at all, and when I tried to get it out, it crumbled. How sad it was, that all my efforts for my wonderful mother's birthday cake were seemingly wasted, as I had no more time to bake another cake.

Not to fear; I wasn't born a professor's daughter for nothing! I quickly decided that the heavenly mountain of crumbled cake could still be decorated quite appealingly. After all, cake must not be wasted. So I drizzled it with the chocolate frosting I had previously prepared, and then iced it with dollops and swirls of vanilla buttercream icing. I then added some extra color and seasonal flavor with organic cranberries that happened to be on hand.

Voila! Disaster averted, and not to mention my dad's diet plans were ruined. 

We then went out for dinner in the city at Jax Cafe, which is famous for their pork chops and steak. However, since the lighting was too dim to do justice for their tender and juicy steak, I just quickly snapped a few pictures of our appetizers to commemorate the special evening as well as my adolescent immaturity.(I apologize for the grainy shots; couldn't fit a bulky camera into my purse so these were taken with my ipod.)

Check out my artistic skills as I attempt to give Simba a makeover

Bread basket! The raisin bread was really nice, a perfect balance of fresh, doughy, whole wheat bread and sweet dried fruit

Really nicely made fresh pita bread and different types of hummus dips.
The orange dip was definitely my fave, with what I swear was a note of cumin and a bit of spiciness from the paprika, as compared to the more generic and slightly salty regular hummus dip.

Moment later, as my famished family dug in...


Everyone in my family except for the (more prudent) me was full before the main course!

Tomato Basil soup. Very seasonal and fresh, but a bit too salty.

Quick random excerpt from today: After having an extra guilty helping of leftover cake this afternoon, I had a major sugar rush and was itching to play a game of tennis (too bad the season's over and there's no one to play with me right now anyways) but I went on a nice long jog/walk with my dog instead and spared my mom an hour of having to deal with a super jittery, sugar-hyped teenager. That's my good deed for the day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Nutella brownies

Ah... Nutella...
Can you say that it's like the oreo of chocolate hazelnut sauces in a jar? I have quite a flamboyant love affair with this hazelnutty chocolate sauce. Over the years, I've experimented with brand new jars of Nutella and various results; peanut butter and nutella swirled together with peanuts and marshmallows and crumbled grahmn crackers, nutella french toast, nutella cupcakes, nutella brownies, nutella and a spoon. This heavenly delight is one of my many vices, along with Gossip Girl novels, Chanel, and anything and everything chocolate.

Okay, okay, I get it- I guess I live a mostly hedonistic lifestyle where I give in to the majority of my cravings. But I deserve that after all those hours of tennis and having to stay awake through first period.

These brownies come out super moist, and the hazelnut taste of the nutella balances everything out perfectly. I like to put some sort of topping on it to add some crunch and break up the monotony. The original recipe, which I think I got from my friend's mom and have seen on countless websites, calls for 1/2 a cup of nutella, but my brownies didn't come out as fudgey as I wanted them at first, so I ended up adding more nutella and it turned out way more dense- yum!

*3/4 cup of nutella, or just 1/2 if you're going to add instant coffee powder
*1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional)
*1 egg
*5 tablespoons flour
*1/2 cup chopped peanuts to top, or any kind of topping you would like- nuts, chocolate chips, cranberries (optional)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit
2.) Mix together the nutella and egg
3.) Add in the flour and instant coffee powder
4.) Spoon into greased mini-muffin or cups and sprinkle the peanuts
5.) Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until you can put a toothpick through the center and it comes out clean

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Photo of the day #5: Ninja dog!

Feet-warmer, trusted cuddle-buddy, squirmy pillow, and leftover thief... these are all jobs that my dog Lulu dutifully performs. Here's another one to add to the list:

Undercover Ninja!

A couple more:


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Best chocolate frosting recipe ever!

I'm usually not a huge frosting fan- usually it's too sweet or too artificial tasting, and for storebought frosting, the ingredient label is just too long. However, here and there youll come across recipes that,with just a hint of tweaking, turn out great!
I was scoping around for a nice chocolate frosting recipe to frost my cupcakes with the other day, and came up with this recipe from It's not too sweet or runny, and if you put it in the fridge for a bit, you can even use it as icing.

* 2 and 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar (I used 2)
* 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 6 tablespoons butter
* 5 tablespoons evaporated milk (regular milk or half-and-half work)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.) In a medium bowl, sift together cocoa powder and sugar and set aside
2.) In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar mixture, and vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy
3.) Resist urge to blend with grahmn crackers and peanut butter and eat with a spoon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Asian Noodle Soup

A steaming bowl of noodles in hot broth, some Dickinson, and my dog as a snuggle-buddy/pillow- what else could you want in life? Noodle soup is a clasic comfort food that I revel in; it is both simple to make and I ate quite a lot of it growing up as a kid.

Many of the ingredients that my mom often puts in the soup, such as potatoes, carrots, and especially lamb/goat meat, are very common in Northwestern Chinese cooking. This recipe is totally versatile for any type of asian-style noodle soup and you can adapt it according to your own tastes and preferences.

Make it vegetarian by omitting the meat and adding cabbage or lettuce, or go carnivorous with a chunkier beef soup. This is a recipe your kids will love and I'm sure many asian families will smile at.

RECIPE: (Serves 4)
*2 tomatoes
*1 pound of lamb or goat meat
*1 onion
*A joint of ginger about the size of your thumb
*1 box tofu
*2-3 potatoes
*About 2 cups (a good handful) of fine Angelhair noodles- I recomment buying an Asian brand like Wu-Mu dry noodles

as there is quite a difference in the texture. You can get thee in any asian market or grocery store, probably even in your local grocery if you have a larger Asian population in the area.
*1 whole bulb of garlic
*1-2 cups cilantro
*1 tablespoon soy sauce
*Add salt to taste (possibly around 2 teaspoons- can't be definite, so just keep adding until you're satisfied)
*Several cups of water to boil (depending on how thick you want your soup; I would use, for this recipe, around 5 cups)
*2 tablespoons vegetable oil
*2 large carrots

1.) Finely chop tomatoes, lamb, and carrots

2.) Slice onion to about the size of the first knuckle of your thumb

3.) Finely dice ginger
4.) Stir fry onions and lamb in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until meat is cooked

5.) Boil water for soup
6.) Finely dice the tofu, potatoes, garlic, and cilantro
7.) Once the water has come to a boil, put in the the carrots, garlic, potatoes, tofu, meat, onion, and tomatoes
8.) Let boil for 5-10 minutes or until everything is cooked, adding in the chopped cilantro when everything is about done (so it doesn't overcook or wilt)
9.)Add in noodles and simmer for a minute or two; then close the fire and shut the lid, letting it sit for another couple minutes

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farewell to summer- Garden Salsa

As you could probably tell from my last couple posts, I am in the process of accepting summer is almost over and doing my best to welcome fall. However, I must say that I'll mis lazy summer sunsets and floating, sheer dresses). On the food front, (because I'm assuming people don't just visit this site to read my long, random rants on life) I'm sure I'll be soon yearning for resh summer produce and regretting not taking the time to try out recipes like Caprese salad or blueberry grunt. As my consolation: at least there'll be plenty of classic Chinee dishes and cold-weather treats to warm me up after a day of hitting the ski slopes, and to cheer me up when I get nostalgic for warm sunshine and sandals.

I had the last batch of season tomatoes, fresh picked from my neighbor's garden, and what to do but to make salsa? I know everyone's probably bored of salsa recipes already, but since this'll probably be one of my last summer recipes this season, please bear with me.
I like my salsa fresh and chunky; not that suspicious-looking reddish stuff from a jar, and after a bit of experimentation, I've come up with a recipe that satisfies both my love of freshness and spiciness.
You can add some fresh avocado or tone down the garlic if you think this is too spicy, but I personally enjoy a spicier and tangier salsa so my ratio of tomatoes and onion was tilted more towards the onion and garlic side.

RECIPE: (Serves about 2 cups)
*2 large fresh tomatoes
*1/2 onion
*3-4 cloves garlic
*1 large stick celery
*1/2 cup fresh cilantro
*1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice (about the juice of 1/2 a fresh lime)
*1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1.) Finely dice tomatoes and grind everything else up. If you have everything peeled and cut, just chuck it in the blender and mix with tomatoes
2.) Add lime juice and mix well

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Life worth living

I find fall such a romantic season, possibly because to "see something slowly be destroyed is to appreciate it's peak"- Anonymous.
The weather is perfect, and it's the one season where you can wear boots, sweaters, dresses, flip-flops, and straw hats without getting odd looks.
I'm generally not a very romantic person, and I often find romanticism (especially Shelley) a bit irritatingly hypocritic, but at the same time, in rare moments of self-reflection, I find that I rather enjoy romantic-era writing and style. To sit outside during the sunset with a cup of coffee, my ipod, and an enjoyable read, is one of those moments I savor.

The little things are what makes life what it is. Here are some things that make me happy right now:

Sunsets (or sunrises)


The Stewie doll I won (after losing about ten dollars to the machine) at a bowling alley

Chopin nocturne in E minor



Cute bear mug I found in a flea market


Basic canvas and leather backpack that goes with my fall aesthetic- rugged, feminine, minimalist


What is more romantic than two beautiful fools?