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Easy, Breezy…

8 Jun

Two weeks ago, I took a quick trip back to California. Despite the ridiculous flight delay that had me grounded at JFK for 6 hours (on the runway! 6 hours!), I am so glad I went. A little dose of sunshine and a whole lot of love welcomed me and I spent my 5-day vacation catching up with family + friends.

Being away from my loves for 5 months really took its toll on me. Once home, I started questioning my decision to live in New York.

California is so easy. No subway, no evil characters. All my loved ones here. People who I have known for decades live here. How can I be away from them?

It didn’t help that once I got back to the city, I had to deal with a possible bug problem that left me in a hotel, depleting my impending vacation savings for Australia. Suffice to say, I was NOT a happy camper.

But these past few days I made sure to catch up with my friends here who matter most. Just talking with them and hearing their own troubles makes me feel like what I am going through is normal.

Let me be frank: New York is hard. Crazy hard. It’s dirty, rude, gritty, and challenging. But it can also be magical, rewarding, astounding, and exciting.

You could say I am in a love/hate relationship with NYC. Like a typical girl, I keep coming back for me ;)

Anyways, while home, I made this simply Strawberry Cake. Can I tell you a secret? I cheated and used Trader Joes Vanilla Bean Cake Mix. I often hesitate to buy cake mix because the flavors are muted and it tastes like cardboard. However, this mix was steller. Moist and natural, I would gladly use it again. For the frosting, I used this one that I love so much. Since you are using real strawberry preserves, you can actually taste the real bits of strawberry in the frosting.  I can’t wait to buy this mix again and pair it with other frostings and flavors. Anybody up for a funfetti cake?!

 

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Hester Street Fair

23 May

Last weekend I wandered with my pal Gen and her boyfriend to check out the Hester Street Fair. Small and cozy, there were lots of interesting vendors and good food. I tried the macarons because how can a girl resist? Next time I will definitely try the lobster rolls and pulled pork sammies. I met and chatted with Wink and Flip, a local jewelry maker. Her designs were very colorful and summer-appropriate. I picked one up for a friend and plan on going back for more Anthropologie-esque designs (without the price tag).

Gray gloomy skies are here to stay this week in NYC. We had one glimpse of sun on Saturday and I soaked it up completely. Of course, because NYC likes to keep you on your toes, it started to downpour. Cue my run to the closest taxi.

While the weather is not pleasant, I am happy that this coming Thursday I will be jetting off to California for a quick trip. There will be lots of smiles, laughter, and FOOD. I am literally going to soak up the California sun and hopefully bring it back to New York. A little dose of home is just what this girl needs!

Going Gluten-Free at BabyCakes NYC

27 Mar

donuts, sweets, babycakes, bakery, breakfast

When I think of gluten-free pastries, I think of dry baked goods, stiff to the touch. Thankfully, going gluten-free isn’t my lifestyle however, after trying Babycakes NYC, I might change my tune. In the midst of the gritty Lower East Side lies this little bakery. The minute I walked in , I knew it was my kind of place. While it was tiny, the attitude was cheerful and contagious, with some 90s rap playing in the background and cute, retro girls serving up some pastries. I don’t know what made me laugh more, the guy behind the counter trying to dance to “Back That Thang Up” or the girls rapping along to the song…

I had my heart set on donuts so that was my obvious choice. Looking at their display case, I felt indecisive and overwhelmed, as if I was shoe-shopping. Which one do I get? What if it isn’t as good as I had hoped? Why are there so many options?

donuts, babycakes, sweets, bakery, nyc, vanilla, breakfast

donuts, bakery, breakfast, nyc, babycakes

After my quick nervous meltdown, I went with my gut: vanilla doughnut with pink sprinkles. My friend went with the Lemon Coconut, which, by her guttural response, was delicious. Soft inside with a crunchy sugary outside, my donut was the best I had eaten in a while. I can’t remember eating a donut that didn’t knock me over the head with sugar, but somehow Babycakes delivers a sweet but not coma-inducing baked good. As for the rest of the products, I plan on coming back if I am back in that neighborhood. I hear they deliver too which is awfully tempting.

Life Goes On

21 Mar

Last week was not a good one. In fact, it might go down as the worst week of 2011. Granted we are only 1/4 of the way though 2011 so I guess there is room for growth? What was the reason behind this ? Without getting too specific, I experienced a pretty powerful professional disappointment. A blow that touched all my insecurities and fears, making me want to curl up in a ball with a sappy movie and a box of tissues. Combine that with a major pang of homesickness and a quiet home ( goodbye Tania, my recent home guest), let’s just say that I wasn’t a ball of sunshine.

However, life goes on. Right? That’s what everyone says. Tsunamis hit, the earth quakes, wars start, and yet life goes on. It may not be as bright or as hopeful as it used to be but the world keeps spinning.

Sometimes it just takes a little comfort to get you back on your feet. For me, that is a Cookies’ n ‘Cream cupcake, Skype dates with my mom, and a weekend spent lounging in bed with the sun streaming in.

Clinton St. Baking Company

16 Mar

I had the pleasure of eating at Clinton St. Baking Company.

Folks, I waited 2 hours for these pancakes. TWO HOURS. For someone who never waits for anything, I was quite proud of myself.

Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce

1 Mar

Sometimes I crave cheese. In a major way. Which wouldn’t be so out-of-the ordinary if I wasn’t lactose-intolerant. Yes, my little stomach can’t process those cheesy enzymes. I blame my asian DNA since it is pretty common for Asian people to have some form of lactose intolerance. While everyone runs for milk when eating warm cookies, I shudder at the thought.

However, once in a blue moon, I get a craving for something rich, decadent, and cheesy. Case in point, last week I went with a friend to S’Mac, a small Mac and Cheese hotspot that serves the main dish anyway you like it. Tummy ache be damned, I said, I want a skillet of hot mac and cheese and I want it now. Cut to me, rolling in a ball on my bead, quivering in pain. Not my finest moment but it was worth every bite. Today, I have another craving, but for that sinfully delicious dessert known as Cheesecake. Not just any cheesecake but one right up my alley: Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce.

I’d like to eat this everyday. I’d like to eat this everyday with maybe a side of mac and cheese.

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What meets the eye…

22 Feb

Raised in the buckle-down-and-bear-it environment, I am a fighter at heart. Trust me, I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. However, in some situations, I’ve learned that it is perfectly appropriate to throw in the towel. Sometimes, fighting is too hard and takes too much effort. Stubborn and prideful, it kills me to have to walk away from something because it means I’ve given up. But there are some aspects in my current life that leave me in tears some days. Ripped to shreds. Because I am a fighter. Because I am a vocal, passionate person.

With all this commotion going on, I’ve left this little space quiet. A tad bit preoccupied and uninspired, I apologize for my silence. I have some great ideas and posts in the works but getting down to business can be tedious. Especially when your heart is somewhere else and your mind is focused on a challenge that might swallow you whole.

Instead of showing you a perfectly pleasing recipe, I’m going to show you these disastrous cookies. Why?  Because, despite the fact that the recipe was utterly flawed, they sure looked pretty. Plus, not everything goes right in my kitchen and I like to show my mistakes as they happen more frequently than one can guess.

To anyone else they might have been a success. But I knew better. The shortbread was unevenly baked, and lacked flavor. Cutting the actual cookies was a test of my patience since they started crumbling the minute I touched them. I’m providing you the link to the basic shortbread recipe. Maybe you will have better luck than me? I added two cups of reduced-sugar raspberry preserves and baked them according to the regular instructions.

If you have a better recipe for shortbread cookies, leave them in the comment section. I am looking for a real winner!

Many loves for today

14 Feb

My current loves:
Cinnamon-spiced coffee with a touch of cream
the new Kings of Leon cd
My leopard-print ballet flats
Pink donuts with white sprinkles from the local donut shop
Nearby friends
Faraway friends
Pretzel M&M’s
My new gorgeous necklaces from this magical shop
Never Let Me Go
Romantic dresses from the Elie Saab Spring 2011 Couture show
This, always and forever

I don’t care if you are married, pregnant, single, divorced, dating, desperately single, or none of the above. I hope you take a minute on this overly pink/red holiday and know that you are loved.

Happy Valentines Day! Go eat some cake :)

Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting

31 Jan

When I think of moving in to my dream apartment, I imagine hosting intimate, cozy dinner parties. The kind of dinner parties where the wine is flowing, the food is delicious, and the laughs can be heard down the hallway. When I lived in my own little abode, I didn’t have enough room to host these kinds of dinner parties, which was unfortunate because my friends and I were eager and willing to have those kinds of parties.

Menu-planning is a skill I don’t really have and I tend to just throw things together. I know how different flavors and ingredients work together but I am not an expert here. A summer menu would obviously rotate around a hot grill, but dinner requires more thought. I would serve a colorful salad, some fresh dinner rolls, and a hearty, warm main dish. As for dessert, I can imagine all kinds of delicious cakes and cookies. However, nothing stuns a crowd like a glorious chocolate cake.

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Winter Pie

18 Jan

The month after Christmas is always the hardest. Sugar has lots its appeal as your jeans have gotten tighter. The sky, once bright blue, has turned gray. Piles of slushy snow sit on the curb, with litter and cigarette butts scattered all over. Leaving your bed has become an everyday struggle.

However, life goes on and soon you start realizing the beauty of winter. The way it makes you more motivated to plow through your library pile. The way it makes you crave hearty soups and piping hot tea. The way the lights twinkle amidst the falling snow. And, last but not least, the way the kitchen and oven become the center of your house.

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