Sunday, June 28


This morning, I craved pancakes.
Unfortunately, we had neither mix nor syrup. (Oh Aunt Jemima, wherefore art thou?!)

So, logically, I made my own.

The syrup was okay, and it'll do, but I still prefer my not-even-close-to-maple syrup. :P

Of course, I didn't have half the ingredients (exaggerating, I am), so I improvised. (It's like, what I do)

Pancake Syrup, the way the recipe was written:
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of corn syrup
1 cup of water
1 tsp of vanilla

Pancake Syrup, the way I did it:
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of light corn syrup
1/4 cup of dark corn syrup
1/4 cup of molasses
1 cup of water
1 tsp of vanilla.

I never have brown sugar. Too lazy for it...but I always have molasses to take its place XD

Anyhoo, boil it all for 3 minutes or so, bottle/jar/whatever it, and stick it in the fridge. Easy peasy.

Pancakes, the way the recipe was written:
2 cups of flour
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 cups of buttermilk
1/4 cup of melted unsalted butter

Pancakes, the way I did it:
2 cups of flour
1/4 cup of powdered sugar (I ran out of granulated, lol!)
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup of sour cream (Like I EVER have buttermilk)
1 cup of water (you could also use regular milk, but I only had like a 1/3 of a cup left) (oh yeah, mix the sour cream and water together, if you do it my way)
1/4 cup of canola oil (...Uh. I just didn't feel like melting butter XD)

You see, I never have anything I need...but improvisation is teaches you why you have to use certain ingredients, or what you can safely substitute when in a bind.

Sift all the dry ingredients together. Beat eggs and buttermilk (or sourcream/water :P ) together. Add melted butter (or oil) to the eggs. (or just do what I did and dump it all in with the dry stuff. My laziness knows no bounds, especially at 6 in the morning.) Combine! Lumpy batters are goooood. If you mix until it's smooth, you'll have icky hockey puck pancakes. (Okay, not really, but they won't be as good). Heat up a pan (medium heat) and melt some butter or put some cooking spray in it. Pour batter. (It's up to you how big to make them...I like tiny pancakes so that I don't have to cut them). Cook until they start to bubble, then flip them. I butter the pan before each pancake, but if you have your own way, don't listen to me, and do it your way :P


Saturday, June 27

Daring Bakers- Bakewell Tart

Man, I did this challenge so long ago (nearly a month!), but I was too lazy to even think about writing it then. So here I am, at 1 in the morning, typing it up. As a result, my lazy butt's gonna post the exact recipe from the challenge, instead of typing it up on my own, like I'd usually do. That's probably for the best anyway, as it'll turn out better :P

Mandatory blog-checking line goes here:
"The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England."

Now that all of that's out of the way, it's time for my thoughts, pictures, and the recipe, of course.

Firstly, don't cut the tart until it's cooled. If you don't wait, you make a mess, and then the slice is all ugly. (You'll see in the pictures)
Also, if you're not a huge fan of almond, I definitely suggest using a strong flavored filling, like raspberry.

Ummm, also, I'm really tired, so forgive me for this awful post. :)

Messy, cut right out of the oven :D

Raspberry jam layer


Right out of the oven, all bubbly and stuff

Messy space from immediate cut, clean space from cooled cut :P

Nice slice

"Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour. "

You can tell I didn't write that because everything is in weights and color is spelled colour. XP (Silly Americans, changing everything :wink wink: )


Wednesday, June 24

Rice Pudding

Before this, I'd never had rice pudding. I'm not a huge pudding fan, normally, but I saw a picture of it about a week ago, and decided to make it.
With that in mind, other than seeing the picture, I had no idea how it was supposed to turn out. My father scoffed, figuring I wouldn't like it.

Liar! I loved it. Delicious!

Pretty simple recipe, as well.
Of course, my awkward self managed to make it difficult, and I even injured myself. -__-


Rice Pudding: (Or, Rice Puddin' as I would say :P)
1/4 cup of rice (the recipe says Arborio, but I just used normal medium grain rice and it was fine)
2 cups of water
3 1/4 cups of whole milk (I used 2%, and it was fine. Be sure to NOT wash the rice if you use 2%, because the starch from the rice helps thicken it)
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp cinnamon (optional)

Put the rice and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, lower the temperature and cook the rice for 5 minutes. Drain the rice, rinse (but not if using 2%, and set aside)

Note: This is where my making the pudding went to heck. I splashed the water everywhere (over myself, over my cook book), and in my haste to move the book away, I jammed the side of my finger right into the edge of the pages. Ouch! I looked down. Blood. I'd given myself the worst papercut ever! With my finger stinging and bleeding, I went through the book, trying to separate and dry the pages. D: Then I got a bandaid, and went back to cooking. ><


Rinse out the pot, and add the milk and sugar. Put the pan over medium-high heat. Once it boils, add in the partially cooked (parboiled!) rice. Reduce the heat (but make sure it's high enough to bubble slightly), and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes. At some point during those 35 minutes, add in the vanilla. The pudding won't be thick at all when it's done, but that's okay, it'll thicken in the fridge. Pour it into a serving bowl, or individual dishes. Place plastic wrap (or press n seal! I love that stuff) onto the pudding, making sure to make it touch, so it doesn't develop a skin. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

When you're ready to serve it, stir in the cinnamon (or some fruit or melted chocolate, or just eat it plain).



Monday, June 22

Apple Not-turned-overs

The other day, while shopping for stuff for my Daring Cooks challenge, I decided to pick up some puff pastry and apples.
I was craving something sweet, but nothing really struck my fancy...then I got the brilliant idea of making apple turnovers.

But I was too lazy for all of that. You know, making a filling, folding over the pastry. JEEZ, so much work. XP

So instead, I made these.

Rectangles of puff pastry (or any shape you want, if you want to make them cute... :P) with slices of apple and cinnamon sugar on top.


Apple Not-turned-overs:
1 sheet of cold but thawed puff pastry
1 or 2 decent sized apples
1/3 of a cup of a cinnamon sugar mixture
A few tablespoons of butter (optional)

Mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together until the desired consistency is reached. :)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Anyhoo, cut the sheet of pastry into 9 equal rectangles (or as many equal sized shapes as you can get out of a sheet)

Peel and slice the apple (1/4 of an inch thick slices) and lay them, layered, over the pastry, leaving at least 1/4 of an inch around the edges of the pastry.
Sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar over the apples, and then a small bit of butter on top of that.
Bake the pastry for about 20 minutes, or until the corners/edges are slightly browned.

Once out of the oven, drizzle the icing over the hot pastry.

It tastes like those Pilsbury toaster strudels, only way better, and you can definitely substitute any fruit!



Sunday, June 14

My First Daring Cooks Challenge -- Dumplings!

Warning: Really really really long post. (but it's worth it)

I'm really excited to be posting about my very first (and the very second ever) Daring Cooks Challenge. Jen from use real butter (a FANTASTIC blog, by the way) hosted this challenge.

The challenge? Dumplings/potstickers!

Warning: I'm gonna post a LOT of pictures. I had a month to do this, so I did it...multiple times ;)

This challenge was fantastic for me, as I'd been planning to make potstickers, but never got around to it. It gave me a kick in the butt, and I'm glad it did. They take a bit of preparation and setup, but if you just spend one day making them, you can have dinners and desserts (oh yes, desserts :P ) for a month! They freeze fantastically.

Anyway, the main point of this challenge was to make the dumpling wrappers by hand, and then choose any filling you want. For my savory dumplings, I went with an almost traditional pork filling, with a few changes you'll see in the recipe.
Let me just say:

They. Were. Fantastic.

I definitely suggest trying these, or your own variation.
The first batch I made, I made potstickers, then I just boiled others for a quick meal. (Boiling is by far the easiest/least involved method)

Anyhoo (that seems to be my favorite word here, eh?), a week or so after I made the pork dumplings, I wanted to try dessert variations. My first choice? Nutella! I also made chocolate filled ones (semi-sweet, milk, and white), and jam filled ones (which you can't eat while they're crispy, unfortunately, or they'll burn your mouth).

Ahhh, dumplings. Cheap to make (a pound of pork cost me $2 at Giant), easy to store, quick to cook. The perfect food for a busy person. Not that I am one, what with being home for the summer and all. And unemployed. (Hire me!!!)


I suppose you want pictures and recipes, huh?

Okay, fine.

Just don't say I never bought you anything. ;)


Not minced well enough >__>

Evolution of my pleating skills! Haha.

Frozen dumplings about to fry

Yummy potstickers

Crunchy bottom

Frozen Jam dumplings

Deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar

Melted peach jelly

Fried nutella dumplings


My filling:
1 lb of ground pork (lean, fatty, doesn't matter)
4 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of corn starch (if you don't have any, it's okay, don't fret. It's not totally necessary, it just helps bind the filling together a little more)
(everything from here down is minced. So mince it. Mince it good.)
2 cloves of garlic
1 little thing of lemon grass (stalk? is that what's it's called? haha, I don't know)
3 tbsp ginger root
3 stalks (yeah, I think that's the word) of scallions
Half of a carrot, cut into strips (like what happens when you use a veggie peeler on it, those thin layers), and minced.

Mix everything together VERY WELL. Cover and let sit in the fridge until you're ready to use it, within a day.

4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of warm water
flour for worksurface

Mix everything in a bowl. You'll probably have to add more this slowly, or you'll end up doing what I did the first time: adding more flour. Knead the dough and cover with a damp towel for about 15 minutes. Jen suggests cutting the dough into strips, and then into pieces, but I was too lazy for that, and just pulled off balls of dough. (is it any wonder that my dumplings got smaller and smaller until they were bite sized? :P ) Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. I'm bad at measurement and can't really tell you exactly how thin to make them, but looking at the pictures should help. Place a tablespoon (or less, depending on your wrapper size) of filling right in the middle, and pleat the dumpling closed. Here, on Jen's blog, she has a great picture tutorial for making the pleats (it definitely helped me), so go look there (and then come back!)
I suggest only making one or two wrappers at a time, and filling them once you make them. The first time, I rolled out all of my wrappers, and then they stuck together D:

Boil water. Cook dumplings until they float. (and then like 5 more minutes, if they were frozen)

Steaming: "Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes." (Jen's words, as I didn't steam any of mine)

Potstickers! (the best, in my opinion)
Put the dumplings in a pan with 3 tbsp of vegetable or canola oil. Fry on high heat until the bottoms are golden brown. Then add 1/2 cup of water and cover the pan. Cook them until all of the water has cooked away. Uncover the dumplings and reduce to medium heat. Let them cook for another couple of minutes. EAT THEM. VERILY! :)

Now on to dessert.

The dough's basically the same, except I dissolved some sugar into the water, and only made half of the dough recipe.

Do the rolling and all of that. This is the fun part...choosing your filling! Definitely choose something thick and stable, and with a low water content, if you can help it. Because, when deep frying, all that water inside turns to steam, and wants to escape...quickly. So you might end up with leaky dumplings, which make the oil all gross. So keep that in mind. Anyhoo, heat oil in a pot to 300-350 degrees fahrenheit. Once the oil is up to temperature, use a metal spoon or spider and lower the dumplings (a couple at a time) into the oil. Leave them on the spoon until they start to float. Then, you can add a couple more. Cook them until they're golden brown, and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered or granulated sugar. Like I said before, if you used a jam or fruity filling, you might wanna let them sit a little bit. They wont be crispy, but they won't burn your mouth, either ;P

Anyway, this was a fantastic challenge, and I think everyone should join the Daring Cooks and the Daring Bakers, to broaden their culinary horizons!
Thanks again to Jen from use real butter for this great challenge :)


Thursday, June 11

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake...sorta

I just got my copy of "Baking: from my home to yours", by Dorie Greenspan and really wanted to try something out. My first choice was a chocolate cake, but, of course, I was all out of cocoa powder. So I turned the page and happened upon the Perfect Party Cake. I'd seen this cake on other blogs, and thought it looked nice, so that was my choice.
Now, in my house, there are only 3 people...Because of that, whole layer cakes don't get full eaten, and we toss a lot of cake away D: D: D:

Then, a stroke of inspiration...


I baked the cakes in normal 9 inch rounds, split the layers, and used a round cutter to cut out circles. With the way I did this recipe, the top was...almost crunchy, but the rest of the cake was perfect, if not a little crumby. So next time I'll shave off the top before cutting the layers in half.

Anyhoo, on to the recipe (and pictures. Not as many this time, because I was a little sleepy and didn't feel like photographing each step)

E: More pictures!

2 1/4 cups of cake flour (I substituted an equal amount of all-purpose flour, because I was too lazy to figure out the proper conversion. For every 1 cup of cake flour, substitute 3/4 cup of ap flour + 2 tbsp of cornstarch)
1 tbsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1 1/4 cups of whole milk or buttermilk (I had neither, so I used half 2% milk and half sour cream 'cause that was what I had. Yay improvisation! :P )
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 stick (1/4 pound / 8 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp of lemon extract

2/3 cup of raspberry/cherry/strawberry/whatever jam/jelly/preserves/whatever. :P

Recipe here
(just add vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2 9-inch or 8-inch round pans. (or square. whatever, it really doesn't matter. It all depends on how you want to present it :) )

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and the salt.
Whisk the milk (or milk-mixture, hehe) and egg whites together.
Cream the sugar, butter, and lemon extract together, until very light. Add the flour and milk mixture, alternatively, until incorporated. Beat for a minute or two to ensure that it's totally incorporated. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then cool on the rack while you make the buttercream.

Here's the buttercream recipe link again. :)

Once everything's all ready, cut the layers horizontally and spread a layer of jam, then buttercream between each layer. I hate trying to spread buttercream over jam, so I tried to do buttercream first, then jam on my second cake. DON'T DO IT. The layers slide around and just make a big old mess. So jam first, them buttercream. Just put a lot of the cream on and it'll be easier to spread than just a little. Anyhoo, do that for your layers, then do a crumb coat (thin layer of buttercream, then pop it in the fridge until it's set). Do you final layer of buttercream and decorate as desired.

Yay, cake!


Friday, June 5

Sunburned Zebra Cake

Today, I was bored.
Story of my life :P

Since I was bored, I decided to make a cake. But! What kind of cake?
Oh, what a dilemma.
I eventually decided on a zebra cake, but pfft, that's boring. I wanted to give it a kick with another layer.
Scouring the kitchen for something to flavor the third layer with, I found a jar of raspberry jam.
Thus, the sunburned zebra cake (obviously named) was born.


Sunburned Zebra Cake:
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 tbsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of milk
1 cup of veggie/canola oil
4 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp raspberry jam (or any red berry jam/jelly)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use any number of pans for this. I used a 9 inch round, but a 6 inch would work just fine too, as would a 10 inch. Anyhoo, grease the pan.

Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.
Beat the eggs and sugar in another bowl until light yellow. Add the milk and oil and mix until incorporated.
Add the flour mixture and mix until everything's just come together.

Divide the batter equally into three containers (cups are best). Flavor each container of batter accordingly. (one chocolate, one vanilla, one berry)

Start by pouring about 1/4 of the first batter into the pan, quickly pour the same amount of the next into the middle of the first batter. Do the same with the last batter. Repeat the process until all the batter is used up.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. (Might be less, just make sure to check the cake)

My mom made me make a glaze for it, which was just milk, powdered sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, mixed together.

That poor burnt zebra D:


Tuesday, June 2

Om nom nommy lemon "tart" wedges.

A couple of weeks ago, I found Meyer lemons at the store, and had to use them. After making a couple of cakes (which I did NOT have time to family is sooo demanding with their baked goods :P ) I decided on something simple.

Lemon bars!

Except I don't have any square pans.

Lemon wedges!

Right, work with what you've got, I always (this one time) say.

After making them, I decided that I needed to decorate them, and decided to make candied lemon slices. (which taste really good, even on their own :D )

Right right, on with it, I know.

Lemon Bars (or wedges!):

1 stick (1/2 cup / 1/4 pound) of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of powdered/confectioner's/icing sugar
1 cup of flour
1/8 tsp of salt

2 eggs
1/3 cup of lemon juice
1 tbsp grated lemon zest(I finely chopped/minced/whatever mine, 'cause I can't find my grater, haha)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbsp of flour
Powdered sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar together. Add the flour and salt until it looks kinda crumby, but comes together. You can use either an 8 inch square pan, or a round pan (I used a 9 inch round), and press the crust down into the pan. Bake the crust for 20 minutes (or until it's golden brown).

For the filling, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add the juice and zest and mix some more. Add the flour. Pour the lemon mixture evenly over the crust, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until it's set (you'll tell if you touch it).

Once it's cool(and out of the pan), you can either sprinkle it with powdered sugar, or smooth the sugar over the top (making a white layer that looks neat when it's cut into). Then you can garnish with candied lemon slices or candied lemon peel.

Oh yeah. I ought to tell you how to make those :P
It's really easy.

Just boil equal amounts of water and sugar. Add the lemon slices and cover. I reduce the heat to just simmering, even though other people say to go up to medium, 'cause my lemons get DESTROYED when I keep it that high. So to be safe, do it over low heat, for at least 30 minutes, maybe more. Keep going until the pith is translucent. After that, place them on parchment paper to dry out. I stick them in a 200 degree oven for a bit, just to dry up some of the syrup, and then let them sit to finish drying. You should go ahead and make a lot, 'cause they're a handy decoration.


My current favorite breakfast.

As of late, I've been staying up until 6 or 7 AM, and then passing out. Since I generally only eat when my dad brings/makes dinner when he gets home from work, I'm STARVING. But of course, I'm also dead tired. So I've taken to making something incredibly simple, but incredibly tasty.


Oh my, how I love orzo.

This is such a simple recipe.

Kiara's Gosh Darn Good (lol) Orzo:
1/2 cup of orzo
2 garlic cloves
1 shallot
1 tsp salt

Set a small pot of water on the stove to boil, with the salt.
Smash the garlic cloves (take your chef's knife, place it flat against the garlic and give it a good whack with your hand), and cut the shallot in half . (I suppose I should mention to peel the skin and all off of both, eh? :P ).
Plop those in the pot.
When the water comes to a boil, add the orzo.
Cook for 10 minutes.
Strain and pick out (or don't pick out, it's all a matter of personal taste) the pieces of shallot and garlic.

Oh so simple and oh so good.