Tag Archives: food

A Blogger’s Dilemma

29 Mar

Remember the days when blogging was all about writing? I’m talking particularly about food blogging. When I started doing this (3 years ago, I think?) my main goal was to write.

Just simply write.

I felt that I was lucky enough to find an outlet like photography to compliment my blog but my focus was writing. And the sweet stuff didn’t hurt either.

Now, I feel that I am in constant search of original content. Is this someone’s true feelings or is it a product pitch? I think I’ve gotten more cynical (haha obviously) with my blogging experience. Maybe not cynical but definitely more disappointed. I have a handful of blogs that I follow that have continued to inspire me. These blogs are the reason why I keep doing this.

Not sure if you noticed, but I signed this blog up for a Facebook Fan Page. It was an impulsive move, one that I stayed away from for so long but decided would be fun. I didn’t expect the pressure that would come with it. Gotta get more fans, Gotta post more… It’s insane what a little fan page can do to me but it really made me rethink why I’m here. After a little time, I realized that I really do care what you all think. Because you are not just a number to me. Not just a statistic. You are a real, breathing human being. And I hope you find the SLH Fan Page to be a useful forum for discussion.

So, to be clear, this is my stance.

I’m not here to sell you products that I have never used before.

I’m not here to become a blogging superstar.

I’m simply here to share some experiences and engage in discussion.

Sounds simple, but the world of blogging has shifted so much in the past year. It’s hard to know my place. What I do know is that I like this space. I also like my other blog which chronicles the more mundane things in my life as well as inspiration points. I like juggling the two as it gives me two spaces to record my thoughts and feelings.

I’ve always been brutally honest here. I never shy away from talking about my high and (more often) lows. I hope that this kind of honesty is at least respected. If not, click out of the browser.

But for everyone else, thanks for staying. Thanks for commenting. Thanks for sending me emails in response to my other post. It was nice to know other people thought and felt the same way.

Thanks for just being here.

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Mom’s visit

2 Nov

Mom Is In Town!!!

Last week, my mom came to visit me and it was perfect timing. Right when I was miserable and homesick, she appeared in this glorious city and I couldn’t have been happier. I know many people don’t have close relationships with their parents, however my mother is one of my best friends. It has always been just the two of us, our own little team. Being apart from her has been harder than I thought. Not just because she can whip up a fantastic meal(curry! pot roast! fried rice!), she gives me the kind of unconditional love that only a mother can provide. Suffice to say, I treasured the time we spent wandering the city.

Around Madison Square Park

Flatiron

Besides showing her around “my” New York City, we ate. Folks, we ate like our lives depended on it. Honestly, I hadn’t even a good meal since I left home due to my budget constraints. When my mom arrived, she made me promise that I’d take her to the best food spots in NYC. You just can’t argue with that!

Shake shack

burgers!

We ate so much food I can barely remember. Some of it was boring while others blew our minds. One place that left its mark on me was the Shake Shack. It rivals California’s In-n-Out. The meat in their burger was succulent and juicy, the way beef should be. The buns were sized perfectly; not too large but just big enough to leave you happily satiated.

Shake Shack burger

Vanilla fair shake

You can’t visit the Shake Shack without getting a shake. I don’t care if you are ready to burst; order a shake. I got the Vanilla Fair Shake, a vanilla-based custard milkshake with swirls of organic fair-trade coffee.  I get nervous ordering milkshakes because the texture and consistency can make me nauseous. However the SS shake was exactly what I wanted. All of the flavors were bold and the shake didn’t stuff me silly. Since my mom doesn’t like shakes, she ordered the frozen chocolate custard and enjoyed every bite.

If you are near Madison Square Park, I suggest making a pit stop at the Shake Shack. The park is full of interesting people and there is plenty of seating.

Stay tuned, I will be sharing more of my week’s eats with mom later.

5 Reasons Why To Bake These Cupcakes

26 Jul

cupcake

You probably think I’m crazy for turning on my otherwise quiet oven but I had a craving for a moist chocolate cupcake. A store cupcake just wouldn’t do. Instead, I made my favorite chocolate cake recipe first posted here and tried out a new Marshmallow-like frosting via Dorie Greenspan’s Baking:From My Home To Yours. These little white-topped cakes made me smile and it seems that many have tried this recipe.

Look, I know it is hot. In fact, it is steamy here. I basically hide indoors from the hours of 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. I wish I could be poolside 24/7. Every day I wear light summer dresses. Ice cream has become a daily staple in my diet.

cupcake

However, I insist you make these cupcakes. I will give you 5 reasons why…

1. The recipe only dirties one bowl yet produces the tastiest cupcake ever. ONE BOWL!
2. You can pair any frosting with this cake recipe and I guarantee it will work.
3. Forget waiting for the butter to get soft; you will be using vegetable oil. I hate realizing at the last minute that I forgot to take the butter out, therefore rendering the rest of my night cake-less.
4. Light, sweet, Marshmallow-like frosting. ‘Nuff said.
5. Because you will make tons of friends with these cupcakes. I swear, bring them to the office and you will get so many smiles and friendly waves.

Chocolate Cupcake + frosting

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
Origin: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
Yield: 2 dozen
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
● 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
● 1 1/4 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
● 2 1/2 cups sugar
● 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
● 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
● 1 1/4 tsp salt
● 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
● 1 1/4 cups whole milk (I used sour cream)
● 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons
● 1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
● 1 1/4 cups warm water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350℉. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.
Into the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; add the eggs, and yolk, the milk, oil, vanilla, and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake rotating pans, halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool slightly. Invert cupcakes onto the rack; then reinvert and let them cool completely, top sides up. Frost cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream, swirling to cover, and garnish with toppings.
Cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

For the filling and frosting:
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large)
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Put the egg whites in a clean, dry mixer bowl or in another large bowl. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pan and boil for 3 minutes. Uncover and allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 242 degrees F on the candy thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, start beating the egg whites.

When the syrup is at about 235 degrees F, begin beating the egg whites on medium speed with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer. If the whites form firm, shiny peaks before the syrup reaches temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep mixing the whites until the syrup catches up. With the mixer at medium speed, and standing back slightly, carefully pour in the hot syrup, pouring it between the beater(s) and the side of the bowl. Splatters are inevitable — don’t try to scrape them into the whites, just carry on. Add the vanilla extract and keep beating the whites at medium speed until they reach room temperature, about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth, shiny, marshmallowy frosting. Although you could keep it in the fridge in a pinch, it’s really better to use it right now.

Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake

28 Jun

Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake

The past two weeks, I’ve been suffering from post-vacation blues. I catch myself daydreaming while sitting in my stuffy office. While at the gym, I pretend I’m running on the beach with the sand under my feet. While I’ve been stuck in my own head, the days continue to roll by. I almost had a heart attack when I saw it was almost July.

Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake

Where did the year go? Have I been stuck in la-la land for the past 6 months?

My time here in California is almost done, and my to-do list grows by the second. People to say good bye to, accounts to be closed, and sadly, an apartment to move out from. Since my time is precious and my list isn’t shrinking on its own, I need to post-and-run. Linda and I made this Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake when she was visiting me. I don’t know how we managed to drag ourselves in to the kitchen with the hot temperatures and travelers fatigue, but we did it. We must be kindred spirits because we were totally excited to get in to the kitchen, despite everything. In addition, it was Linda’s birthday and no birthday can go on without a cake. That is my rule and I’m sticking to it!

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Picnicking + salads

19 May

Picnics are a fine art. You have to assemble the right dishes and bring the right materials in order to have a truly smashing picnic, especially if you are expecting company. When I have my solitary picnics, my basket consists of book, iced tea, water, fruit, and sunglasses. I don’t need any fancy gadgets nor do I need multiple snacks. Lying out in the sun with a good book and fresh fruit is all this girl needs.

However, when the picnic becomes a group event, I feel the pressure. Every area must be planned out (god forbid we leave something out). Forks, napkins, plates, sodas, wine, bread, fruit, cheese, and salads. Salads tend to be the ugly stepsister of the event. Who wants that mushy potato salad while there is ripe strawberries and good brie? And don’t forget about the wine. You get my drift? But, if this minted orzo salad was on the menu, I would dive right in and leave everything else behind.

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Salad tales + goodbye April

23 Apr

You know it’s spring when the weeks start to fly by. I looked at my calendar this morning in early morning haze and couldn’t believe my eyes. One week till the end of April?! Insane! I had great plans to celebrate springs arrival and lo and behold spring is almost over! Oh well… That just means I will push all my picnic parties and road trip plans to May.

However, I couldn’t let this week pass by without telling you about the most delicious salad I had the privilege of eating last week. This farmers market salad from Pronto’s was comprised of roasted chicken, mixed greens, corn, avocado, tomatoes, almonds, cornbread croutons, and a creamy tarragon dressing.

Did you read that? Cornbread croutons. Avocado. Tarragon dressing.

I was literally in heaven. I know I say that a lot but this salad made me swoon. The flavors and various textures blended together and created an unforgettable dish. The cornbread croutons were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The avocado was perfectly ripe and balanced the creamy Tarragon dressing. The original dish comes with dates and goat cheese but I’m not a fan of either so I left them off. I am looking to fix a homemade version of this beloved salad during the weekend. I don’t know if I can do cornbread croutons since a pan of cornbread is more likely to be devoured with a big bowl of chili than in a salad. However, I will try my best.

I hope you all have a delightful and delicious weekend. Enjoy your April before it’s too late!

Oh, Meatballs

8 Mar

Do you ever think back to when you were a kid, and remember what you wanted to be? Wasn’t that the most annoying yet riveting question possible? The first time I was asked that, I remember replying, “What do you mean when I grow up? I don’t want to grow up.” I was content playing around, napping after lunch, and reading Nancy Drew.

Then I got to thinking. What did I want to be when I reached the scary age of “grown up”? After a couple of minutes of heavy thinking (the kind where you furrow your brows and try to concentrate real hard) I decided that I wanted to be a figure skater. I told my mom, my 1st grade teacher, the mailman. I was probably the most annoying kid on that block but I didn’t care. I was going to be the next Kristi Yamaguchi. My mom even splurged on ice skating lessons, which were way out of our budget.

Suffice to say, I never became the second Kristi Yamaguchi. Two weeks in to lessons, I bailed and found a new hobby: the trampoline. However, my love for ice skating never faltered and ever four years, I relive my ice skating passion with the Winter Olympics. I watch the competitions with my mom where we laugh, gossip, and eat.  While these fine athletes were working up a sweat, my mom and I were tearing in to some delightful meatballs.

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Cupcakes + Champagne

24 Feb

What happens when you put seven girls, seven bottles of Champagne, fully-charged cameras, and one big platter of white cupcakes with raspberry buttercream?
Insanity. Pure, unadulterated insanity.

I still have a headache from our Valentine’s Day party. Let’s just say that the morning after was NOT pretty. But the party was a blast. I haven’t had that much fun since grade school. Seriously. Getting together with a bunch of gals to laugh, moan, and scream about men/work/life is the best stress reliever. And, when in doubt, bake these cupcakes. They know how to rock a party.

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My Kind of Salad

1 Feb

Sometimes, you have a salad that changes your entire perspective on salads. Goodbye, dull piles of lettuce. See you around, bland dressing. I had no idea that this Sweet Potato salad would shatter my world but it did.

In fact, it’s going to my “new” holiday dish. The must-have at a crowded table.

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Great Yeast-pectations

5 Jan

2010 is the year that I call a truce with yeast. For years, I’ve waged a war with yeast of all kinds (Active Dry, Instant, Rapid Rise) and there have been many casualties. RIP sad Cinnamon Rolls, spongy wheat bread, and my dense brioche.

I long to master the art of bread-making, but I have neither the time nor expertise to commit to a full-fledged relationship. Instead, I tragically kill loaf after loaf, reassuring myself that it won’t always be so bad. And I’m right because at times, my beginner’s luck works some kind of magic in my kitchen.

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