Tag Archives: desserts

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?!



This summer, I love…

12 Jul

1. Hanging out with a blogging bud.
2. Eating my way through Los Angeles with formerly mentioned blogging bud
3. Anything related to the World Cup matches
4. Watching one of your favorite teams win the World Cup (Go Spain!)
5. Drooling over Eric and the other boytoys on “True Blood”
6. Donald Draper.
7. These brown wedges.
8. Listening to these fine gentlemen.
9. Enjoying pitchers of fresh sangria with my lovely friends
10. Reading this, this, and this.
11. Playing Guitar Hero at my best friend’s newly purchased home.
12. Week-long “Words With Friends” marathons.
13. Baking this fresh strawberry pie.

All Fresh Strawberry Pie
Origin: “Pie: 300 tried-and-true recipes for delicious pie” by Ken Haedrich
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour + 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 60 to 65 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours

● 1 recipe All-Butter Pastry, double crust, refrigerated

● 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
● 1/2 cup sugar
● 2 tbsp cornstarch
● 1 tbsp creme de menthe, (optional)
● 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
● 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
● 1 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut in to small pieces

● sugar
● milk or light cream

Prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about one hour.

On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the larger portion of the pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert over a 9-inch standard pie pan, center and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and let the overhang drape over the edge. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Put the strawberries in a large bowl. Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl, then add the mixture to the fruit and toss well. Add the creme de menthe (if using), lemon juice, nutmeg, and toss again. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

On another sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the other half of the pastry into an 11-inch circle. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell and smooth the fruit with a spoon. Dot the top with the butter. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell. Invert the top pastry over the filling, center, and peel off the paper. Press the top and bottom pastries together along the dampened edge.

Trim the pastry with scissors or a paring knife, leaving an even 1/2-inch overhang all around, then sculpt the overhang into an upstanding ridge. Poke several stream vents in the top of the pie with a fork or paring knife. Put a couple of the vents neat the edge of the crust so you can check the juices there later. Sprinkle the top crust evenly with sugar, then milk.

Place the pie on the center of the oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Rotate the pie 180 degrees, so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any drips. Bake until the juices bubble thickly at the steam vents and the tip is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. If the top of the pie starts to get too dark, cover it with loosely tented aluminum foil during the last 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 2 hours to let the juices settle and firm up before serving.

the gifts of the season

7 Dec

If I could bake cookies every day in December, I totally would do. Live in elastic sweat pants, flour permanently in hair, butter schmears all over my face… It sounds like a good time to me.

Sadly, I have neither the time nor money to do that. But for many, December ushers in the baking season. The baking aisles in the grocery stores are suddenly packed, with moms stocking up on flour and sugar, and kids smiling broadly as they know pretty soon their tummys will be filled with sugar. 

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when in doubt…

6 Apr

Sometimes I dream about packing up my crap, saying farewell to my dead-end cubicle job, hopping on a plane, and setting up shop somewhere in another country, like the English countryside or a quaint village in France, where I could play around in the kitchen all day. And in between baking cakes and treats, I’d roam the country meeting new people and taking pictures.

But whenever my mind starts to wander in to these whimsical dreams, my sensible side scolds me. “How would you support yourself? What would you do with your time? You can’t just leave your job and do nothing!” it says. But when in doubt, listen to Nigella.

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Jill O’Connor’s one bowl treat

2 Mar

Cookies have a way of brightening up everyone’s day. Breakup with your boyfriend? Have a cookie. Fail a test? Bake a batch of cookies. Bored senseless? You guessed it. Bake, my friends

That is what I did all last weekend. From cakes to cookies, I baked my way out of boredom and out of a bad mood. Sure I had tons of homework and studying to do, but that’s not fun. What does a sullen girl do when she finds herself all alone, all little moody and grumpy? What can perk me up?

Baking. Only some people understand it. One of the best things to bake are cookies. There is really no way to ruin them, and they take only 15 minutes. Easy, simple, and thanks to Jill O’Connor, stress-free due to her one bowl chocolate chunk pecan cookie recipe.

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16 Feb

“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”- Chocolat.

One of the most enrapturing and intriguing movies I’ve ever seen is Chocolat. Playful and unique, the movie is based on the book written by Joanne Harris and stars Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. It tells the story of a Vianne, a young mother who travels from town to town with her daughter Anouk, introducing her special and forbidden chocolate treats to the the villagers of a sleepy French village, winning them over with visions of hot chocolate, truffles, and everything chocolate related.

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Chocolate and Hazelnut Cheesecake

28 Dec
Cheesecake is the ultimate holiday dessert. Rich and creamy, it isn’t too sweet and is meant to be savored with every bite. Normally, store-bought or commercially prepared cheesecakes can be over the top, and you lose a lot of flavor due to the excess sugar or adornments. I look forward to homemade cheesecakes for this reason. Thumbing through my favorite baking book, I saw multiple delicious recipes for cheesecakes but couldn’t decide.

Sweets from Opa Opa’s Sweeties

14 Nov

Right next to Opa Opa! is it’s bakery branch, Sweeties. I’m sure it gets lot of business, seeing as it’s right off of J street and next to campus but I never noticed it particularly until someone mentioned that they had ordered a cake from there. Since I always try to make an effort to know the best bakeries in town, I showed up at it’s doors, ready to satisfy my sweet tooth. My fellow sweets-addicted friend Anna joined my adventure, as she shares my affinity for all things sugary.

Sadly, I was somewhat disappointed with the place. And I had such high hopes! First of all, the staff is not really there. You know what I mean? As I was browsing their display, I asked the girls about the different treats and in response, I got blank stares. Now, that’s not very welcoming for a new customer. I’m guessing she dind’t know what exactly was in the desserts or how they were made, which I guess made sense. Why would she know what she is selling?? Anyways, I had a tough time deciding what to get as everything looked good.

We decided to pick two things and split them. We picked an amazing chocolate ricotta cheesecake and a large and crispy cannoli. The cheesecake was so good that I risked going back to order a whole cake. No joke. It was this min, round delicious treat, with chocolate shavings all over it. And the ricotta was sweet and savory at the same time.

Th cannolli was not my favorite. The cream was too sweet, and while the crust looked crispy, it was a tad bit soggy. Needless to say, I threw my half out.

Overall, the items are a bit expensive, for what the sweets were. I could’ve gone to Bel-Air and bot a whole pack of cannoli’s for the 4 bucks that Sweetie’s charged us. But I’d totally go back to eat another cheesecake. But my waistline, bank account, and common sense tells me I should only indulge every now and then.

images from midtowngrid.com

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