Apple cake with honey frosting and an oat walnut crumble

Happy Autumn! For the Apple theme for “Eat Around the World“, I made a cake! The occasion was me and my sister’s birthday. Of course it is very like me to make my own cake even if my friends and family have insisted they’ll get me a cake for my birthday.

I got this recipe from Fearless Fresh. My first thought was there’s fruit and oats — is it breakfast? I made a few modifications to this recipe:

Continue reading Apple cake with honey frosting and an oat walnut crumble

Apples around the World

Oh dear…this theme might be a little challenging for this *points to self* home cook. The ingredient for September is apples!

There are so many kinds of apples. In fact 7,500 cultivars of apples. I recalled in my last job, I was naming these types of apples to a coworker (jazz, mountain rose, opal, macoun, winesap, jonathan, jonagold, etc.), he thought it was making it up. When it’s apple season, I try to buy and try as many cultivars as I can (as my grocery budget allows). Apples come in all types of colors (inside and outside), tastes, and texture.

Continue reading Apples around the World

Cold dishes for a hot August (Eat around the World)

As I write this post on the last day of August, the weather finally cooled down. In the beginning of the month, I thought about all the thing I would make with tomatoes like a savory tart, curry, and pasta sauce. But it was way, way, way too hot to make any of those all month long. But it gave me a chance to play with cold dishes. I’ve noticed I’ve been eating less ice cream too. For years every time the weather was so hot, I would end my day with ice cream. I love ice cream, but with a job where I spend most of my day in a desk, I would enjoy this indulgence once in a while. With all these cold dishes I’ve been making, I can reach for something much healthier.

Continue reading Cold dishes for a hot August (Eat around the World)

Matcha cake with white chocolate cream (Eat around the World challenge)

I think I wanted to do an Eat Around the World blog challenge because I wanted an excuse to make foods I normally do not make. Take this matcha cake for example — or any cake in general. So far a lot of the foods I shared around the theme of celebration have been foods made by others like this wedding cake or this croissant. As someone who calls herself a home cook, I wanted to show something I made.

This past Sunday was Father’s Day and I wanted to take the opportunity to make a cake to celebrate my husband’s first Father’s Day. I normally don’t bake cake because it looks intimidating, it looks like it is a lot of work in terms of time or resources. But also I feel like if I have to make cake, it needs to be for a lot of people. I don’t think I would make a cake for just me and my husband.

This matcha cake is coated in what was suppose to be white chocolate whipped cream that turned into white chocolate buttercream. I whipped the heavy cream mixture for too long. I should have caught it when it started looking like stiff peaks. Anyways it’s all good. Maybe my mistake is an excuse to try again :-).

The recipe for the matcha sponge is from Delish.com. The whipped cream frosting is from Carve Your Cravings. It’s not as intimidating as I thought. The ingredients for the matcha sponge are ingredients I already had at home — yup, including the matcha powder. Instead of using a round tin, I used a bread loaf tin to bake the sponge. I made the sponge on Saturday night to let it cool into the following day. From there, I sliced the sponge in half and made the frosting. I chose white chocolate whipped cream because I did not have any cream cheese on hand.

Here is the final product:

Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea
Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea
Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea

I saved the cake scraps because I did not want to waste food. Plus I learned there are recipes that use cake scraps; you can make cake pops, cake truffles, mix it into ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, cake in a jar, and a milkshake.

Things I would do differently the next time I make this cake:

  • put fresh strawberries or pistachios in the filling or on top
  • make them into cupcakes or donuts!
  • stopped whipping the cream when it gets to stiff peaks
  • cover the cake with whipped cream frosting with touch of maple syrup

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. June’s theme is “Wedding Cake…and other Celebratory Treats.” All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate.

Happy late weekend coffee share post!

Happy late weekend coffee share post — it’s been a busy weekend for me. I started my Saturday morning going to the gym — nowadays it’s the only time I go to the gym. Sure I exercise from home, but I enjoy going to the gym to socialize and chat with my fellow gym buddies. After the gym, I finally did my exam for the internship position. The deadline is this Monday at 5PM and I knew Saturday was going to be my only free day and I needed a clear head to complete the exam. There were a few difficult parts that required me to take a few mental health breaks in between (thank god). After I completed my exam, I expected to get a score. It is an online exam after all… But we shall see…

Today is our first Father’s Day. My family came over to visit and we did our potluck lunch. I made a matcha cake with white chocolate whipped cream. It’s my first attempt making a cake not from a box mix. We have leftovers, so grab some yourself! I will do a post about this matcha cake this week. I do want to mention that I messed up on the frosting — I whipped it for too long and it started turning into buttercream.

Matcha cake with white chocolate frosting green tea

5 Things Friday: Food fads I hate

Instead of my usual five things that made my week, I decided to do this fun prompt on food fads I hate from Salted Caramel. I would not say I absolutely hate any particular food, maybe more like I’m frustrated with certain food trends. Here are mine’s below.

1. Things that are gold leaf or has gold flakes – there is zero nutritional value and it does not change the flavor. It’s just pretty.

Matcha cheesecake
This matcha cheesecake was good but the gold flakes were unnecessary.

2. Activated charcoal everything -There was this ice cream shop in downtown LA that sold activated charcoal ice cream. Seems like this charcoal trend went a little too far at this point. I think if you want to have “healthier” ice cream, blend frozen bananas and frozen pineapples. Voila! You have pineapple soft serve. Or if you have to do some damage, get regular ice cream.

3. Feta – Please, please leave my feta alone! Or at least don’t hoard it. I remembered when the TikTok pasta (errm...baked feta pasta) was trending, it was so hard to find feta cheese for so many weeks. I finally did make the pasta and I get it. It tastes amazing!

Tiktok pasta baked feta pasta

4. Sourdough making – I remembered watching videos on how to make sourdough. What I did not like is discarding half of the starter for each feeding. I would keep another container for the discard and made things with it like put it in waffles, crumpets, pretzels, etc. There was a point I had more discard than I could handle so I stopped making it. Instead I do the five minute bread.

5. Juices – Don’t buy a juicer — get a blender instead. I understand the thought of blending celery may not sound so pleasant because of all the pulps and fibers but that’s all the nutritious stuff! Plus you get more bang with a smoothie for your buck.

Watermelon drink
Why have watermelon juice when you can have a watermelon smoothie?

“Eat around the world” — a new blog challenge

I’ve spent a good part of the pandemic watching YouTube videos. My favorite videos are ones that involve food. It could be a recipe video, a food journey in a particular destination, a food challenge, cooking techniques, restaurant review, etc. I enjoy watching them all!

I’ve been entertaining the idea of having people share how their part of the world would eat something…it could be a particular dish (pizza), feature a particular ingredient (tomatoes), or use a cooking tool (cast iron skillet, cheese grater). It combines my love for food and travel. You don’t have to be a home cook to participate. You can share a dish from a place you dine at too

I plan to kick off my first prompt on June 1st. I am thinking the theme could be wedding cakes around the world…or some treat one would eat at weddings. I chose a wedding theme because June is peak season for weddings. I am inviting everyone to participate all June long.

Anyways I thought it would be a fun idea. I can’t wait to kick it off on June 1st!

Also…any tips of hosting blogging challenges? Comment below!

Produce box

When I go to the grocery store I usually get spinach, cucumber, kale, apples, baby bell peppers, and bananas. Occasionally I like to pick up a random fruit — something unusual and unique for the season. To change things up, I decided to pick up a produce box at my local community garden to support the work that they do. Also at work the other day we had a mobile food drive for the community and there was a leftover produce box I took home too.

So anyways I wanted to go through all the produce I received and figure out what to do with them. I enjoy cooking and food prep. My favorite activity to do on a Sunday is go on a food prep marathon to plan for all the meals to make for the week. Usually I plan meals up to Wednesday. Thursday is for leftovers/cleaning the fridge and Friday we like to dine out or do takeout.

Celery — and there’s lots of it too! Celery is generally in my grocery rotation. I can make celery juice and sweeten it with a little bit of apple but I think celery juice alone is just fine. I also like to have it by itself as snack. I do find the celery in the center not taste as good. So what I do with the less appetizing celeries is chop it up and freeze it in a bag. I have bag of chopped carrots, onions, and celery so I always have a mirepoix on hand.

Oranges – These were in the pantry box I got through work. I usually eat these as a snack. Maybe I can use it to brighten a salad.

Dandelion greens – I got this from the community urban farm. Honestly this was arugula but it tastes different — it’s less bitter and the stems are a little thicker. I made a salad yesterday along with the lettuce.

Pakistan mulberries – these have an interesting taste. It’s earthy yet citrusy.

Asparagus – I’ve been eyeballing to make a cream of asparagus soup.

Avocado – Well there’s lot of things to do with an avocado. You can put it in toast and in salad. If I am feeling indulgent, I make an avocado smoothie — it’s just banana, almond milk, and half an avocado.

Radishes – I love eating radishes as a snack — raw and nothing else. I also like to put it on butter (or avocado) and toast. A couple years ago, I was on a pickling kick because I was learning how to pickle stuff. Maybe I could pickle the radish? Honestly, I’ve never cooked radishes — maybe I could try this garlic roasted radish dish.

The radish greens could be a stirfry to get rid of that fuzzy texture.

Kale (or are they collard greens)- I would eat kale raw in a salad or a smoothie. I would eat kale cooked if it was in a stew. In the winter time, I like to make a kale, bean, and sausage soup.

Carrots – save the carrot tops for a pesto. The carrots can be roasted on a cast iron skillet for a side dish.

Fennel – for the bulb, I would make this green shashuka. For the fronds, I would make a pesto (could I mix it with the carrot top?) or cook it with salmon.

Lettuce – I used it to to make a garden salad yesterday along with dandelion greens.

Potatoes – Maybe for a challenge, I could make these honey butter potato chips and top it with ice cream.

Yellow squash – I received lots of yellow squash from the leftover mobile food pantry. Could I experiment with yellow squash in place of zucchini bread? Or could I make a squash noodle lasagna?

Any recipes or dishes you recommend with any of these produce above? Comment below!

January meal planning

Why am I attempting meal planning? To be honest, I am usually the type that makes whatever is the fridge or do those ready-to-make meals from Trader Joe’s.

Well…one of the main reasons is that my husband needs to reach for a goal BMI for the army. I usually make lighter meals — more vegetables, beans, tofu, and chicken…I follow the seasons. But when it came to the later stages of pregnancy, I was tired all the time. My brother-in-law who lives with us would help by making dinner almost everyday…but it’s less healthier and he takes a longer time to cook for some reason. Dinner will be ready past 8 pm, but we’ve been home for hours. At that point, we are already snacking on other food. To be polite, we eat his food too even though it is very late.

Also, I am going to back to work in a couple of weeks. I feel re-energized to finally get myself back into the swing of things. Naturally a meal plan was best to strategize what meals I can quickly make as soon as I get home work. I do enjoy making meals that that take a long time — I can be creative by making parts of the recipe ahead of schedule, use a slow cooker or sous vide throughout the day, or use a pressure cooker.

I just started making a meal plan for the week and I am working to plan for the rest of the month. To be honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to follow my meal plan to a “T.” My brother-in-law lives with us for a good part of the week and spends the rest of the week away to see his son. He keeps a lot of food — A LOT of perishable food — in the fridge like guacamole and a gallon of cow milk. We don’t drink cow milk because we are lactose intolerant and he hardly drinks it himself. When he leaves for the weekend, we are left with his leftovers — it is A LOT of leftovers. He takes up a lot of space in the fridge and pantry for one person where my husband and I find it overwhelming. We even told him so too.

I anticipate to make changes to the meal plan at anytime if say, I have to make something with cow’s milk because it will expire by the end of the week. I guess with cow milk I can make alfredo sauce, quiche, fried chicken, waffles, milk bread, ice cream, etc. For dry chicken leftovers, I can revitalize it into teriyaki chicken. I absolutely hate food waste. That is why I won’t buy a larger fridge.

Anyways, for the meal planning, I only wrote what to make for dinner during the week. Each day I alternate between dinner and side dish

I did not write in a meal plan for breakfast because I usually cycle between oatmeal, yogurt with fruit, or protein shake– depending what is there. For lunch, I’ll start that during the third week of January when I return to work. Chances are it will be leftovers from the night before or something light like a sandwich, a wrap, or a salad. My work snacks are usually trail mix and ruit.

I listed Friday as “wild card” because we usually go out (or in this case “take out”) for dinner. I have to say, lately, we have spent our Fridays dining in — it could be eating leftovers or making whatever from the fridge. I have no meal plan for Saturday and Sunday — again that is all “wild card” too. I like to use the weekend to experiment. Maybe I’ll make some breakfast muffins and that would be breakfast for the week. I could use that time to make something that takes a lot of time…like croissants.

#weekendcoffeeshare: Have some cookies!

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us!  What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans?  Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

Wow, it just occurred to me this is the last weekend of 2020. What am I doing this weekend? Well two of my friends and I are doing the first ever cookie swap. We agreed to meet at my house to swap our cookie boxes and have lunch. It is different from years past where we had much larger gatherings and everyone brought their own food. We would eat, chat, do a White Elephant gift exchange, and play games for hours until it got really late.

The rules of the cookie swap are simple: bake up to three different types of cookies and each box must have a dozen. We also agreed on a theme and we decided to do travel theme. Actually it started with one of my friends who said she was planning to make some Mexican cookies and it sparked an idea to do a travel theme. It is fitting since we all like to travel and we have not been able to travel anywhere this year.

My cookie box theme is New York City and I based the cookies off of my time there. The first cookie on the top row is the Black and White cookie. This cookie can be found in NYC delis. The dough is cake-based and so soft. For this recipe, I used store bought frosting instead of making the frosting — I did not have time to practice it. I did not have buttermilk, so I instead mixed 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Top: Black and White Cookie. Bottom (from left to right): Cuban Sugar Cookie with Passion Fruit Jam, Compost Cookie (inspired from Momofuku Milk Bar)

The next cookie I made (with the assistance of my nephew) is a Cuban Sugar Cookie called “Torticas de Moron.” It is a sugar cookie with a lime twist. I made this cookie because when I was at NYC, my friend and I would eat breakfast at a local Cuban café almost every morning. I could not find any guava jam in any grocery store. To substitute I used passion fruit jam. I enjoy making this cookie and would like to try it with dulce de leche and eventually guava jam if I could find it.

The third cookie is the Compost Cookie based off of the cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar. I remembered the first time I had the Compost Cookie, it was so unusual to have potato chips, pretzels, coffee grounds, chocolate chips, and butterscotch all in one cookie. What I did differently was skip the graham cracker crust recipe and instead crushed the graham crackers. I guess I was tired trying a new recipe just to only used 1/2 cup of graham cracker crust for the cookies. What would I do with the rest of the graham cracker crust? Of course make pie, but I think I’ll take a short break from baking desserts.

I have plenty of cookies leftover after baking for most of the day. I have plenty to give. Here, have one or some. Do you have a cookie recipe? Comment below!

For other plans for the rest of the weekend, I am working on my 21 for 2021 list. I am also working on writing a reverse 20 for 2020 list, reflecting on all the things I did this year.

Things I’ve been eating during my pregnancy

I entered my second trimester of pregnancy a couple of weeks ago. The moment I found out I was pregnant, I downloaded the Ovia app to keep track of my pregnancy health. I’ve been obsessively tracking if I’ve been eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables, taking 1000 mg of calcium, and 70 g of protein every day. To be honest, it is probably the healthiest I’ve been in a while.

I take a daily prenatal supplement, but remember the key word is “supplement” not meal “replacement.” I’ve had people push me some silly supplements — note, they work for MLM organizations. They’re not exactly the people who are watching out for my well being.

Anyways before pregnancy I’ve had for the most part, a healthy diet. I credit having a healthy diet to why I did not get morning sickness. I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but I don’t eat enough protein. During my pregnancy adding more protein has been mindful daily. Thankfully, I found a protein powder I can tolerate and it is OB-GYN approved.

Anyways, here are things I’ve been eating the last few weeks:

  1. Morning smoothie. It is the easiest way for me to start my day with fruits, veggies, calcium, and protein (thank to protein powder). I don’t have a recipe. It’s usually 1 scoop of protein powder, almond milk, chia seeds, spinach, and whatever fruit I have. The smoothie with the protein powder alone equals gets me to 25% of my daily protein intake, 50% of my calcium intake, and 25% of my fruit and vegetable intake.
  2. All the fruits. Fresh fruit, dried fruit, and frozen fruit. That really hast not changed.
  3. Greek Yogurt. To be honest, it is not my favorite yogurt style. I just eat for it because of the protein.
  4. Dessert. Yes, I still eat sweets but just one thing of sweets per day. I like to wait until I go home to have ice cream because it is the only sweet thing I have all day. I am impressed I have the willpower to wait all day.
  5. Peanut butter sandwiches. I pack a peanut butter sandwich for my work lunch. My long time favorite things to add are fresh bananas and raisins — if I have them available.
  6. Hard boiled eggs. There was a time I ate hard boiled eggs all the time at the beginning of my pregnancy. But when people were panic-buying food in the beginning, the eggs section at the grocery store was always empty every time I went. I decided to then ration my eggs. Before quarantine life I use to buy two dozen eggs from a trip, but now my grocery store is asking us to limit us to one carton of eggs.
  7. Baby carrots, baby bell peppers, and celery. I had to find a new snack to munch on since I could not have hard boiled eggs all the time. No one was fighting over baby carrots, baby bell peppers, and celery. By the way, I long enjoyed eating baby bell peppers with some cream cheese.
  8. Nuts. Another snack to replace my daily hard boiled eggs. I snack on nuts mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
  9. Dried beans and lentils. Again, before people were panic buying and took all the canned beans. Thankfully, I’ve always known how to cook them. The bags of dried beans at the grocery store have always been plentiful.