Thursday, 21 March 2013

Matcha Dark Chocolate Chip Chiffon Cake

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The house was a mess, my room was a mess, the kitchen was a mess, and the bathroom was a mess. You ever have one of those days when you just can't stand it no more. I had to get out the mop and bucket, the scrub and detergent, and cloths and sponge. And you know what, today's experiment looked kind of like a mess too. 
I don't often make chiffon cakes, as you can see, it involves a quite a bit of technique and precision. The ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients can really affect the end product. The way you prepare the ingredients can affect the outcome whether the cake holds up or deflates. Hey, but have a go and you'll find chiffon cakes quite interesting to bake, and a delightful light sponge to eat.
 It involves beating egg whites until glossy and firm, and then folding two very different mixtures together.
There's no butter or oil on the sides of the tube pan because when the cake bakes, it sticks to the edges of the pan in order to support the form of the cake.
One brave step forward into exploring chiffon cakes means many more recipes to experiment with. The most important is to have fun during the day (...I even had fun cleaning).
You can find the recipe at Happy Home Baking.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

My Little Nephew's First Birthday

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Balloons, barbeque, birthday boy, bulgolgi, and buns.
Camera, "Cheese", chicken, and chocolate.
Pagoda, photos, picnic, and pizza.
Sauces, sausages, sizzling, and smiles.
Does the following list of words paint a picture of the day?

On the way home from our long afternoon, we saw this little cute monster (?) sitting on the bench at the park.
We took a closer look at it.
Our dear little one happen to be fast asleep so after adoring the cute little doll, we were on our way.
My Little Nephew

By Corrinne May, My Little Nephew Lyrics


It's funny how one thing happens 
And changes your whole point of view 
Everything that seems to matter 
Has cast aside for a better truth

You're growing faster with every 
Minute, second, photograph 
I wish I could spend more time with you 
My little nephew 

Everyday's a new discovery 
I'm a child again looking through your eyes 
With every step you're teaching me 
How to fall and cry, get up and smile 

You're growing faster with every 
Minute, second, photograph 
I wish I could spend more time with you 
My little nephew 

But you're far away and I'm over here 
Memories are lost in the span of years 
So, when I go will you miss me? 
When I go will you remember me? 

You're growing faster with every 
Minute, second, photograph 
I wish I could spend more time with you... 
My little nephew

See you learn to tie you shoes 
Say that sky is blue 
And that your best friend is Winnie the Pooh 
My little nephew


Honey Joys

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An old favourite, a childhood treat, a simple recipe. Just cornflakes, sweetened, clustered, baked, and voil√†! It's crunchy, crispy, oh sweet honey! Okay, I think I might have exaggerated too much here. You know that moment when a child is trying to tell you something and you are just so busy, so you ask them to get straight to the point. Yes, I know that moment so let's cut straight to the point.
Yes, grab that cereal box and empty it out of it's corn-goodness.
Then add the oils, the sugars and the extras if you want to make it all fancy and pretty. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds were a personal choice because of my fear of giving children any treats with nuts. By the way, this bake was for afternoon tea at church so I had to be a little more thoughtful and careful about this.
Some had the seeds and some were plain and simple-the way Honey Joys should be.
You can find the recipe at Happy Home Baking.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Honeydew Cucumber Smoothie

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I wake up in the morning feeling like P.Diddy I'm in a fridge. Autumn has just arrived and Summer has gone away for another year, well almost a year, but that doesn't mean we can't have smoothies. I don't exactly know when honeydew melons are in season but it is now, and man are they sweet!
It's ironic how everything is so green about this smoothie, yet everything around here is changing to the colours of Fall, of red, orange, brown and yellow.
The combination of the sweet honeydew melon with the cucumber makes a really refreshing flavour. It feels reallly hydrating to drink too.
I think this blender is the best investment in appliances that my dad has ever made.

Honeydew Cucumber Smoothie
Makes 1 large smoothie or 2 small servings

Ingredients:

1/4 of a large honeydew melon (or 1 cup of chopped melon pieces)
1/4 cup of cucumber
1 cup milk

Directions:
  1. Blend all ingredients together and serve immediately.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

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I didn't believe it until I tried making it myself: butter-less cookies. So many doubts ran through my head like how will this cookie hold together without butter? Will it still have the soft and chewy texture of a typical chocolate chip cookie? Will it taste nice? Well, to begin with, I was looking for a cookie dough recipe without butter, not because I'm extremely health conscious (yes, I'm working on being slightly healthier, well you know better), but because I ran out of butter. OH NO! WHAT? NO BUTTER!? But don't worry, these cookies have saved the day!
These cookies are just as soft and as chewy as a typical chocolate chip cookie. And guess what? It's easy and healthy. YAY! They are slightly crumbly yet contain no traces of butter. If in doubt, immediately try this recipe and you'll change your mind about this cookie dough.
With the addition of a touch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt, these cookies will make you drool over the counter satisfy your cookie cravings.
Mix and match and substitute the chocolate chips with some walnuts and cranberries. Pecan and chocolate is nice together too, I've seen Joy the Baker make it before. Cherries and white chocolate are another awesome combination made by her too. However today I'd like walnuts, chocolate and cranberries in my cookie.
Can you see the walnut chunks? I didn't even bother to chop it up, and I like the big crunch from the walnut pieces. The dried cranberries give a slight twist and tang which complements the bittersweet dark chocolate bits and crunchy walnut pieces.
When shared with loved ones, these big hearty cookies are just right.

Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Makes 24-30 cookies

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups traditional rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2-3 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, oil and eggs. Add vanilla and combine well.
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. 
  4. Combine the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Then add in oats, chocolate chips, cranberries and walnuts. The dough will be crumbly. 
  5. Using a tablespoon, scoop spoonfuls of the mixture and place on the prepared baking tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from tray. Last 4 days stored in an airtight container.

Mama-style French Toast

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A pretty photo can capture your eye, have you thinking, or even make you drool. I wish I could always capture pretty pictures for you to see but not everything in life is perfect, especially the everyday things. Some of the pretty things in life: a beautiful, personalised, hand-picked necklace; 
a mum that always offers to help;
a simple, yet delicious homemade french toast;... 
This french toast isn't your typical french toast soaked in a eggy mixture. The batter doesn't even include milk, sugar, vanilla or cinnamon like most common French toast batters. It's different. A good different. And did I mention it is realllly simple to make?
In France, they call it pain perdu, meaning "lost bread" because it is a way to save stale or "lost" bread. It is considered to be a dessert, a breakfast as well as an afternoon tea snack. In Quebec, French toast is called pain dor√©, which means "golden bread". I agree with both interpretations, because my mama's French toast is dessert, breakfast, an afternoon tea snack, and a pretty "golden bread". It only requires some bread of your choice, one's favourite jams or spreads, some self-raising flour, water, oil and sugar to coat. No egg or milk required (you could experiment with the recipe, but I like to keep it real simple).
These pictures don't do justice to how pretty my mama's French toast really are, but I'll update you when I attempt this recipe independently next time (:


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli

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Oatmeal, granola, muesli bars, oat biscuits, cakes with oats, cereals and more; there's a lot of ways to get oats into your tummy, and this is another tasty way to do it. Who would have thought toasted oats would do the trick? I prefer my bread toasted, sandwiches toasted, pastries toasted, vegetables toasted (or you could call it re-heated, but mostly toasted), and now, I like my oats toasted.
Toasting the oats really does bring out the fragrance of the grain itself. It has this sort of slight nutty aroma to it after toasting it. In this muesli, along with all of nature's other good stuff, I feel refreshed to have this by my side. Actually it sits in my pantry along with the other varieties of cereals that I have for breakfast on alternate days (one of my favourites is the "Be Natural" range, yet some days I will revert back to the sugar laden cereals like Kellogg's "Crunchy Nut").
Cereal is like a staple for me at this stage of my life. But I go through phases where I get fixed on a certain kind of breakfast, and so I mix and match, and keep it interesting because I love breakfast!

How do you like your cereal and oats?


Toasted Oat and Coconut Muesli
Adapted from Joy The Baker

Ingredients:
4 cups of rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (or sweetened coconut flakes)
1 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (unfortunately I didn't have this on hand, so I put more cinnamon!)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place oats on one baking tray. Place coconut flakes on another baking tray (lined or unlined, I don't think it matters). 
  2. Toast oats and coconut for 5-7 minutes, until coconut is golden brown and fragrant. Coconut browns quickly, so you might want to keep an eye  on it. Remove from both oats and coconut from oven and let it cool.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together oats, coconut, dried cranberries, candied ginger, chia seeds, spices and salt. All done! Store it in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Banana Bundt Cake

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Not Yes, another banana inspired creation. It isn't one of the best banana cake recipes I've come across. In fact, I find it too floury => is that even a word? Yes it is, I just checked. Okie dokie, so I doubled this recipe to fit in my huge bundt (almost spelled butt...excuse me) pan.
The fragrance of the bananas were there, but not as strong as I would have thought. However, I love the texture of the chunky walnut pieces within each slice.  
Not the prettiest bundt cake around. There were so many air bubbles as the batter was quite dense. Too much flour too!

Behold, the walnuts did this recipe justice. Walnuts are not optional, it's a must! 

Did you know? Walnuts provide protein, omega-3, fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, antioxidants like Vitamin E, and it looks like mini brains. Okay, maybe the mini brains isn't so good to know but walnuts are really good to have around as a snack or to use in baking.

You can find the recipe mentioned above, here.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Mini Na-Na Muffins With a Crumb Topping

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With the weather ever so humid and hot, our bananas tend to ripen before we can even get to eat them. So I set out in search of another recipe using bananas. And if you must know, bananas are a very versatile fruit which can be baked in the form of breads, cakes, tarts, and even mini muffins. I'm sure there's more you can do with it, like put it on top of your cereal, or make a banana split. Would this gluten free banana bread interest you? Or some cocoa almond granola with added banana (optional)? I mean, the added banana is optional. Let's get back to the purpose of this post, yes, I wanted to tell you about these mini na-na muffins.

Originally the recipe was meant for big muffins, but since I was making this for church, I had to make them smaller so it can be enjoyed as a quick dessert. We don't have much time to indulge a nice dessert after lunch because we follow a pretty tight schedule for the day's procession. Still, I enjoy going to church because it's a break from everything else.
The crumble on this muffin is so decadent yet you can indulge without feeling too guilty since it's mini, (almost) bite-size, just right. 
And there was enough for everyone as it's mini...just right for a mini post-lunch and/or afternoon tea.

 Mini Na-Na Muffins with a Crumb Topping
Inspired by Lisa Kreft from Allrecipes

Makes about 30-36 mini muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
90 grams butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line 2 mini muffin tin trays with paper liners or lightly grease it.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared mini muffin tray or muffin cups.
  4. For the crumb topping: In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter (to "cut in", means to combine the butter into the dry ingredients as quick as possible) until mixture resembles course crumb-like pieces. Sprinkle over muffins.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until a fine skewer inserted into centre of a muffin comes out clean.
Note: To make larger muffins, spoon the batter into about 10-12 regular muffin cups or a muffin tin tray, and bake for 8 minutes more than the baking time for mini muffins.


Remnants of a Blessed Memory

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An honorary bridesmaid's bracelet. 
Some iSnap photos with the bride and bridesmaid.
 A bridesmaid's dress.
Some red packets (ang bao).
 Two handmade dolls; remnants of a blessed memory.
Remember that project I started, well, it was a worthwhile gift for a special friend.
 

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