Psst…Don’t tell them there are vegetables in this dish!

Happy Weekend Coffee Share! I made some nachos, but here’s the twist: the cheese is plant-based. Breaking down the cheese sauce ingredients it’s potatoes, butternut squash, onions, garlic, nutritional yeast, and other spices.

Continue reading Psst…Don’t tell them there are vegetables in this dish!

Be the Healthy Food Hero at any feast!

When it comes to feasts, there’s always going to be rich (read: unhealthy) food. When we’ve done Friendsgiving (Thanksgiving with friends), even with planning on who is going to bring what, there’s always bound to be at least five different desserts on the table.

Continue reading Be the Healthy Food Hero at any feast!

Tomatoes around the world

The ingredient of August will be tomatoes!!! I apologize for the late post. My writing has been slow lately. My husband is out of town for two weeks. When he left for training, my daughter was sick for a good part of the week and now I’m fighting the sniffles. I am so thankful I have my parents living near by where they could watch her while I went to work though the commute was twice as long. I’m surprised I was able to even squeeze in some writing this past week.

Anyway, I chose tomatoes for August because I want some excuse to make some good gazpacho. The gazpacho I’ve attempted to make in the past has tasted somewhat off…maybe there was too much bread or maybe it was too acidic. Maybe I have not found the right gazpacho recipe. I’m still willing to look around because people rave so much about gazpacho. Plus it’s appropriate for the summer time because it’s too darn hot for ramen, pho, and chicken noodle soup.

Continue reading Tomatoes around the world

Making and eating ice cream (Eat around the World challenge)

I thought this would be a fun recap of all the ice cream I tried this past month for July. Since August is a hotter month, you’ll still find me eating some more ice cream…maybe I’ll find some time to make more ice cream and popsicles. Don’t forget — I’m also going to be experimenting with tomatoes and looking for dishes that incorporate tomatoes. That will be fun!

I’m pretty much writing this post almost half asleep. This week has been chaotic and incredibly energy-sucking. I’m surprised I am even able to squeeze some time to blog. I’ll share more for this upcoming weekend coffee share.

Continue reading Making and eating ice cream (Eat around the World challenge)

Five things Friday: Noodle Hack

Five things Friday is a post where I share five things that either made my week, what I am thinking about, or would like to share with all of you.

Getting the Childcare Tax Credit (CTC) – I know I’ve been hearing about getting the Childcare Tax Credit and to be honest, it was nice seeing that credit in my checking account this morning. Please keep in mind that this is an advance that applies for next year’s tax season, not a stimulus check. Half of the usual CTC is coming in the form of monthly payments. It made me think, why can’t it always be in monthly payments rather than a lump sum that one time you file your tax return. I’m thinking more about that parent that needs that break to pay for their kid’s formula or a few days of daycare. I’m thinking about that parent that needs to have a little bit of money to put away to save for a future summer camp

Experimenting with adding baking soda to your noodles – I heard about this cooking hack from a Youtube video. Lately I’ve been playing around with this trick. To be honest, I can’t tell the difference. Maybe I should buy some ramen noodles as a control for comparison.

Bionicos (Mexican Fruit Salad) – Looks indulgent but it’s incredibly healthy and filling since it’s mostly strawberries. The cream sauce is very, very light.

Managing my work through the Pomodoro Timer – I learned about the Pomodoro Timer on my new fitness watch. I thought the name was kind of funny and thought “what’s a tomato timer?” I looked it up and it’s basically you work for twenty-five minutes (“Pomodoro”) followed by a five minute break. After the five minute break, you repeat. Generally you take a longer break after you complete four Pomodoros, but the rules are pretty flexible. I thought the concept was very simple, but after trying the Pomodoro timer all week, I’m pleasantly surprised how much work I got done including ones that have been on the back burner for months.

Bakeries in LA list – I am working through this list of iconic bakeries around LA.

Ice cream around the world (and June recap)

Wow, it’s July already!

I had a lot of fun sharing some celebration themed treats in June. I shared my treats celebrating my wedding, the middle of the week (hump day), and when my husband’s first Father’s Day. I even made a cake with layers. I saved some cake scraps from the matcha cake and made some cake truffles. It’s very simple: break the cake scraps into crumbs, mix it with a little bit of leftover frosting, roll it in a ball, and freeze. After it’s set, melt some chocolate and roll the truffles in chocolate. It’s incredibly rich. I should have added toppings like almond or coconut shreds or white chocolate chips for better presentation. Also, I should learn how to temper chocolate for a shinier, smoother finish.

matcha chocolate cake truffle pop

Thank you Liz from One Million Photographs for sharing your dish celebrating the welcoming of summer with a crab dinner from Pike’s Place.

Anyways for the theme Ice Cream — my favorite dessert! I eat it frequently because it’s so darn hot where I live in the summertime I’ve had some ice cream kicks on my blog sharing some of the interesting ice cream flavors we have all around Los Angeles. Here are a few I’ve had:

I look forward to also using my ice cream maker. This month should not be too hot to make ice cream.

What kind of ice cream flavors or textures can we find in your part of the world? Participating in “Eat around the the World” is easy! You can either comment here to submit your entry or pingback to this post. Cooking skills are not required to participate! You can also use the tag, “Eat Around the World.” Deadline to participate is July 31st.

The August theme is already set for Tomatoes. I look forward to playing with that theme in seeking out tomato themed dishes and making some myself. I would love expand my use of tomatoes beyond putting on a salad or a sandwich. September is still TBD so I decided to make a poll (viewable on browser not on the WordPress reader app for some reason).

“Eat around the World is a monthly writing/photography challenge where I invite people to share a dish around a theme, ingredient, or technique. July’s theme is ice cream. All themes are open to interpretation. Cooking skills are not required to participate.

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?

Wednesday Coffee and Croissants

I wanted to scale back the lavishness of a wedding to celebrate something ordinary like a Wednesday. I’ve been doing this recently to celebrate that I am halfway through another workweek. Plus, the lines in bakeries on Fridays tend to be long. I assume people are celebrating the end of the work week or they have Friday off..

Treating myself for a coffee and croissant on an Wednesday makes the middle of the workweek special. Wednesdays tend to be my busiest days also, so waking up a little early to leave my house a little early is worth it. Plus, I support small businesses.

This week has been pretty hard already. Since Sunday my car broke down and it’s still down today. My husband anticipated that the repair was beyond his skillset so I called for a mechanic to come take a look, but that did not happen until the following day. Monday happened and the mechanic shared his insight and said he’ll go look for the part and possibly come back later that evening or the following day. Anyways, I had to use my dwindling PTO to get that Monday off. I thought about getting a Lyft ride to work after the mechanic stopped by, but because I live fairly far the fare was pretty pricey for doing less than five hours of work that day.

Anyways here’s to another work week!

Ham and gruyere croissant
Ham and gruyere croissant from Proof Bakery

Do you do celebrate any “ordinary” days? Comment below!

“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.

April and May review

Welcome everyone to another Weekend Coffee Share! As always I like to feature some food (or dessert) that would go well with coffee. I went to this Matcha Cafe called Matcha Village in West LA a while back to try their Matcha Cheesecake. It’s somewhat a misnomer or maybe it’s a reconstructed cheesecake. So the matcha is not the cheese. It’s a regular cheesecake coated with a matcha mousse which is what you see on the outside. Very creative! The little gold flakes makes it very indulgent.

I missed writing an April review post, but before I begin reviewing my 21 in (20)21 post, I wanted to reflect do a “reverse” post. Look at at some of things I did over the past month that are not on the list. I organized a blog challenge called Eat around the World because I love food and travel. I would love to see posts of people sharing their special day dishes. My first post went live on June 1st for “Wedding cake…and other celebratory treats around the world.” I plan to write another post of another celebration — something less lavish than a wedding and more ordinary. Other celebrations deserve just as much love as a celebrating a wedding. Unfortunately this is next post is not something I’ve made either, but maybe the post after that.

Another thing is that lately my husband and I have been eating significantly LESS meat dishes. Sometimes we’ll go an entire week NOT eating meat dishes. It happened on accident because there was not enough room in our fridge to store food. My brother-in-law buys A LOT of food — though he insists the food in the fridge is meant for everyone to share. But the thing is, these are not food we normally would eat ourselves. My BIL has campaigned for larger fridge, but I told him that I don’t want a larger fridge until we have a kitchen remodel. In other words, it’s going to be a while. Anyways making and eating meatless dishes at home was not intentional, but I think it’s going to be the norm. It’s cheaper for my husband and me. Eating meat dishes will probably be considered “treats” at home like having ice cream and cookies and something reserved for dining out.

Anyways, here’s my 21 in (20)21 review:

Self-Love

1. Give myself a gift for Mother’s Day. Done. My gift was getting gardeners to install my plants for the front yard and jasmines to cover the backyard.

2. Start off my day reading the The Daily Stoic from January 1st to December 31st. I read The Daily Stoic occasionally.

3. Do the #Read21in21 where I read for 21 minutes per day. This is going very strong. Actually last month, I did a read-a-thon with Bout of Books. I look forward to doing the next one in August. I also need to get around to updating my #Read21in21 page.

Home

4. Plant three herbs in front of the house… So far I have lavender in front of the house.

5. Work on Lana’s room which means cleaning up the office/storage room. Still decluttering. But I think this will be done this summer.

6. Move the shoe rack from the entry way in the coat closet. Done!

7 Have a large indoor plant for the entry way. Still entertaining the idea.

8 Get a credenza for the living room. Done!

9. Plant a tree for the front yard. Done!

10. Convert our little eight year old IKEA table into a kitchen island. Still entertaining the idea.

11. Reorganize the kitchen cabinets. Work in progress.

Finance

12. Save six months worth of living expenses. We’re cover in terms of just the mortgage but of course we need to consider food and other bills. It’s safe to say we are almost there all thank you aggressive saving.

13. Create monthly meal plans. Making a monthly meal plan has been helpful. Rather than buying groceries around certain recipes, I

14. Make our own baby food. done

Health

15. Improve my posture muscles at barre. Well something to focus on when exercising in general.

16. Get the COVID-19 vaccine. Done

Career

17. Apply for the Management Fellow Program at work. This opportunity doe not post until fall. But I did apply to the Administrative Internship program. It just opened up this week. I guess you can call it a “backup” and it’s a full-time paid internship.

Creativity/Other activities

18. Create an artistic display of our postcards. Still in progress

19. Finish a Duolingo course. Oh yeah…thanks for reminding me.

20. Organize my apps on my phone. I just install apps, but I should organize them into folders. When my husband tries to look for stuff on my phone, I get embarrassed because I know he has a hard time looking for anything.

21. Go on a major trip as a family. This is hard to say if this will happen since my vacation hours are very little. Nowadays a lot of my vacation hours are going towards going to a doctor’s appointment — either mine’s or Lana’s — or either of us are sick. Recently we went to San Diego, it was not really for a vacation. More like it’s been a while since we’ve seen family. Maybe we’ll squeeze something small like spend a weekend at the Mission Inn at Riverside or Santa Barbara. We have not quite decided. So no major out-of-state trip.

Wedding cake…and other celebratory treats around the world (#1)

“Eat Around the World” is a monthly photo/writing challenge combining the love for food and travel. Share a dish based on the featured monthly prompt. The prompt could be around a particular dish, an ingredient, or a tool. 

Welcome to “Eat Around the World” — a new blog challenge…or is it a blog party? A blog potluck? A blog potluck is fun to say so I am going to stick with that.

This is the first post to kick off what I hope is going to become a long-running series where I invite the blogosphere to share their food around a certain theme each month. I wanted to combine my love of making food, eating food, dining out, and traveling. You don’t have to be a home cook to participate. In fact the inaugural theme is wedding cake and I don’t know many people who have actually made their own wedding cake.

I chose to make it monthly because that’s my bandwidth. But I am hoping I can challenge myself to attempt to make some of these foods throughout the month. Please bear with me since it is my first time doing anything like this.

To participate, please submit complete this brief form for review — this is to ensure that the people participating are well…real people. And it be populated on this sheet. Also, please pingback to this page. At the end of the month I will do a recap post.

The deadline to submit your responses is June 30th at 11:59 PM EST.

If you have any tips on hosting a blogshare (blog potluck), please let me know! I greatly appreciate the feedback!


On to the theme of wedding cakes (and other celebratory treats). I chose wedding cake because June is peak season for weddings. Ironically, I do not like a lot of wedding cakes, especially the ones covered in fondant. Also, my wedding was not in June, it was in October.

The wedding cake is the center piece of any wedding reception. Cutting the wedding cake is its own event on the wedding reception program while the main course and hors d’oeuvres are just something to keep the guests from not being too hungry. I’ve seen some stunning wedding cakes — they almost look like sculptures. But when I look closer and see the cake is covered in fondant, I am immediately turned off. I find fondant barely edible. You’ll probably find me tearing the fondant out as soon as I get a slice.

When it came to my wedding, I did not want to spend a lot of money on a cake that was unpalatable because it was covered in fondant. I get that fondant makes the cake looks prettier, cleaner, and more polished. I understand fondant is all about the photos, not about how it tastes. But sorry, I actually like to eat food in general.

We decided to do a small two-tiered cake and have a dessert bar of cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and dulce de leche cookies. The cake was made by a friend. She did a vanilla cake with strawberries and cream filling. The cover is vanilla buttercream. Another friend of ours made the cake topper. The cupcakes and cookies were from Porto’s bakery. The vase, cake stand, and pastry covers were from me. The event venue had wooden crates. Though it’s not pictured, the boxes for people to pack their desserts were from Michaels.

I was surprised how incredibly inflated the prices were between a wedding cake versus a regular party cake when looking around for bakeries. The cake could serve the same amount of people, but the wedding cake price would be at least double (or triple) the price of a regular cake. Since I did not have it in my heart to lie that I wanted a cake for a really large party, I thought to look for other creative measures by asking a friend to make a small wedding cake and do a dessert bar of our favorite treats.

Here it is, our wedding cake and dessert bar on a budget.

Our vanilla wedding cake with strawberries and cream filling with vanilla buttercream

I recalled when planning for the wedding, I wanted to have a cookies-only bar. I spent my time researching recipes but did not have any time recipe testing. I spent a lot of time DIY-ing other details for the wedding such as the invitations, centerpieces, table cards, etc. I was DIY burnt out from the wedding. A few years later I did have an opportunity to do a cookies bar for a friend’s wedding. I was so enthused to contribute the moment she told me about her engagement.

Share us your wedding cake — whether you were the bride, groom, or guest! Or was there no wedding cake and you served donuts? Or share with us other celebratory treats from around the world — whether it’s celebrating a birthday, promotion, a new home, graduation, paid off your credit card debt, etc. because honestly there are many other milestones worth celebrating. You can pingback to this post or submit your post on this this form. The deadline to submit your responses will be June 30th at 11:59 PM EST.

“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!