New Beginnings

This has been a semester of change… weird change.

Friends have graduated, new friends have appeared, and I feel like I’ve learned more about myself in ways both good and bad. One of the things that is very real for me right now is that one of my friends is going abroad next semester, which means I won’t see him… ever… (or at least for a while) unless I’m in Boston for work next year. (Fingers crossed!) It’s sad to think that immediate contact with someone can be cut off so quickly. And even in the age of Skype, Facebook, and ceaseless texts, it’s hard to keep in touch.

We threw him a little surprise sending-off party tonight, just to show him that we love him and are wishing him the best. I made a cake, of course. It’s been a while since I shared a recipe, so here’s one of my all-time-favorites: chocolate cake.

I made it because it’s his favorite, heh. The first time I made it for a group of friends, I think he ate like 3 or 4 pieces. Yup.

I could rave about this friend forever, but I think if he ended up reading this, it’d be disappointing because I couldn’t say enough in a short post. And it also might be embarrassing, but… meh, oh well. <3 <3 <3 I just know I’m going to miss him next semester.

OKAYY away from the mushy-gushy friendship stuff. Now, about this cake…

It’s a huge crowd pleaser. Seriously, everybody raves about this cake. I was lucky that I stumbled upon the recipe a long time ago and kept it! I whip this cake out when I haven’t had time to prepare anything too fancy, but it has never failed me.

The thing that makes this cake so good is the fact that it has a cup of boiling water in it to make it super moist, yet flavorful with that melt-in-your-mouth feeling. I’ve topped it before with store-bought chocolate frosting, chocolate buttercream frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Anything will do, really, because the cake can speak for itself.

I also love this recipe because it only takes ~45 minutes from start to finish, with only 35 minutes in the oven! So quick, so easy, so delicious. Seriously: try it, and tell me it’s not delicious. I dare you.

The only people who don’t like this cake are people who don’t like chocolate. Whatever, more for the rest of us.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 pan or two nine-inch cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. EAT AND ENJOY

nom nom nom <3

Also–working on remodeling the blog a bit so it’s more functional and user-friendly.. but I first have to finish finals, and then figure out how to WordPress. SRSLY what is going on with all the buttons? (Help.) Anyways, I’m hoping to have more photography stuff on here, as well as a recipe index so it’s easier to find the recipes I’ve posted before. Hope it’ll be easier for you and me!

Here’s to friends and love and forever,

syd

Spring // Tea Time

omg omg it’s spring wut.

This beautiful weather has got me in a good mooooodddddd <3 <3 <3 (That, and ignoring the fact that I have piles of work to do. heh.) Yesterday was Holi, too, bringing some color to shove out Winter, which extended its stay far too long.

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Recently the Tufts Third Day Gospel Choir also performed, with Anchord as the guest performance! Anchord also performed at Relay for Life, which is an awesome event all the time. Also, the Tufts chapter of Love146 had their annual benefit concert, which was a total success! It’s been incredible going to all these events and seeing what people are passionate about.

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Since the semester is coming to a close, I have to start thinking about reducing the amount of stuff I have to pack into boxes. Freshmen year started with four boxes, and Sophomore year ended with over six. #notaminimalist

That stuff includes food; i.e., baking supplies. Can’t pack a bunch of butter and eggs to be put in a basement for 3 months, can I? Hmm, I guess that just means I need to use it all before May…

Tonight I have night class from 6-9pm. (ugh.) My friends and I decided to make it a little happier by having some tea and crumpets, so during our break, we’re planning on running over to the kitchen, using the hot water kettle to make some tea, and enjoy some baked goods together.

Or at least that’s my plan. Whether anyone else is actually joining me is beyond my knowledge.

sooOOOooooOOOOoo what can I bake with flour, sugar, eggs, and butter? +dried cranberries & orange juice from dining halls/friends?

Cranberry Orange Muffins!

mmm.

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so small. so cute. so tasty.

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can’t wait to try some tonight while learning about molecular biotechnology!

Join me in ringing in Spring with some yumminess :)

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin pan.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl, beat orange juice, egg, vegetable oil, and orange rind.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry all at once and mix.
  5. Add dried cranberries. Stir just to moisten.
  6. Spoon batter into muffin pan so the cups are 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Surprise!

Happy Birthday, Kathy! :) 

For those who need a break from chocolate (or just don’t like chocolate to begin with), here’s a delicious recipe, courtesy of this website!

If you don’t know me, I really enjoy surprises. Not being surprised, but surprising other people. So I surprised Kathy tonight with a whole big batch of these blondies to celebrate!

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm <3 <3 <3

I’m definitely going to make more of these in the future! But up next is Chinese New Year edition… (teaserrrrrr)

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The best part about these is that you can add ANYTHING into them! 

White chocolate chips, chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips… OH the possibilities!

Let me know how they turn out!

Blonde Brownies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease an 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Melt butter and stir in sugar, egg and vanilla in a large bowl; mix until completely incorporated.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients. The mixture will be thick. Spread in greased baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes in preheated oven.
  4. Cut when moderately cooled. Serve warm or cold. 

I HAVE TIME

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Apologies for the extremely long hiatus! Something called school got in the way… Meh. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to bake or cook very much during the semester, though I did do a few artsy craftsy things here and there!

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Other things include this Peppermint Brownie in a Jar gift and this handy (but really gross) way to get rid of fruit flies if you have a hoard of them in your kitchen, as we did earlier this September. 

But yes, we did bake and cook here and there. 

We made some fun pumpkin cookie cups with pumpkin cream cheese frosting, peppermint sugar pizookie (using my favorite Peppermint Sugar Cookie recipe!), and (of course) the famous microwave mug brownie

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Now that I’ve been home for a while, though, I decided it was time for me to do something productive with my spare time. 

Productive, you ask? Yes, exactly. On my desk I have a stack of fabulous MCAT prep books and a list of internships to apply to, both of which have been dutifully neglected for the past week. I have pages of workout routines to brave, as well as an Insanity Max Interval Circuit DVD and a couple medicine balls of different weights, that have been used in a futile attempt to combat the increasing intake of delicious snacks and food that have been consumed at various parties and gatherings. And, last but not least, I have my computer, with which I search nommy recipes to make. Hehe. 

We drove to Oceanside the other day and ate dinner at this delicious Peruvian restaurant, Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie, I stumbled upon using Yelp. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend it. Everything we tried was excellent! I ordered the 1/4 Peruvian chicken. Mm. So good. So tender. We also had the quinoa cakes… WHICH I NEED TO LEARN TO MAKE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THEY WERE MIND-BLOWING. Apparently the sauce it was served in included animal crackers. Interesting. The waitress told us that they used the aji pepper for a lot of their sauces, which made everything that much better. 

Apart from those quinoa cakes, I also wanted to try to make Edamame Hummus, which I tasted at a party. Oh Trader Joe’s, you’ve done it again. I tried to make it healthier, too, since everyone’s been indulging in rich foods as of late. Lucky for me, I had time to make it last night to bring to a party, and I was glad to see that it was a hit! Additionally, I also made a ton of layered jello and mosaic (stained glass) jello for the party, which was popular with all the little kids. 

These recipes are all super duper easy to make, so give them a shot! Let me know how your creations turn out, too!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and Happy New Year’s! 

 

Healthy Edamame Hummus

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

  • 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
  • 3½ tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • olive oil to drizzle on top for serving, optional

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor.
  2. Process until desired consistency, scraping down the sides as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste!
  3. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.

Layered Christmas Jello

Yield: One 9×13 pan with five layers of jello

  • 2 boxes Cherry Or Strawberry Jello (3 Ounces Each)
  • 1 boxes Lime Jello (3 Ounces Each)
  • 1 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk (14 Ounces Each)
  • 2 envelopes Plain Knox Gelatin
  •  Nonstick Cooking Spray

Directions

1. Spray a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex with cooking spray, then give it a gentle wipe with a paper towel to remove the excess.

2. Prepare the creamy layers: In a small glass measuring cup, measure 1/2 cup cold water. Stir in 2 envelopes of plain jello and stir to dissolve. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water. Pour dissolved gelatin mixture into the condensed milk mixture, then add another 1/2 cup of boiling water. (This will make enough for both creamy layers.)

3. Mix 1 box of Jello with 1 cup boiling water and ½ cup cold water. Do this for each of the colored layers when you’re ready to pour it into the pan. 

4. Pour a layer of red jello into the pan and refrigerate until set (about 45 minutes, but can vary depending on the temperature of your fridge and how full it is). Once it’s set, very gently pour half of the creamy layer on top. Return to the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until set. Repeat with the colors and creamy layers until the last color is used. When finished, refrigerate for at least another hour. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve; refrigerate leftovers. *Make sure that the mixtures are cooled to about room temperature before pouring it on top of the other layers.*

 

Christmas Mosaic (Broken Glass) Jello

Yield: One 9×13 pan

  • 5-1/2 cups boiling water, divided
  • 2 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
  • 2 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Lime Flavor Gelatin
  • 2 env. 

    KNOX Unflavored Gelatine

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

Directions

1, Add 1 cup boiling water to each flavor fruit gelatin mix in separate bowls; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Pour each flavor of gelatin into separate small shallow food storage container sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.

2. Sprinkle unflavored gelatine over cold water; let stand 1 min. Stir in remaining boiling water. Add condensed milk; mix well. Cool slightly.

3. Cut flavored gelatin into cubes. Randomly place cubes in 13×9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pour milk mixture over cubes; stir to evenly distribute gelatin cubes. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm before cutting into bars.

Recovery

Hullo!

Updates:

1. 1st semester is done!!!

2. Vacationed for the weekend in Maui!

3. And to celebrate the 4th, I got to do two things I haven’t had the time to enjoy lately: photography and baking!

I’m no photographer by any means, and I’m definitely envious of my cousin’s photography skills with his fancy new(ish) Canon T3i while I have my (still fancy) Canon Rebel XT… that I don’t know how to use. Hmmm. Well, that could be a problem.

For the Fourth, I was charged with supplying dessert when we went to our auntie’s house to watch the fireworks after a yummy dinner. We thought that we’d only have a party of like, 7 or 8, but SURPRISE there were a few other families invited! There ended up being two potato salads, two salads, two watermelons, and a whole lot of desserts. Oops. Bad communication. 

Regardless, it was enjoyable and relaxing, especially for me, since I’ve been “studying” for the past… well, 6 weeks! Baking is most definitely one of my therapies, so it was no trouble for me to take a break from the books and concoct something hopefully delicious. 

In the spirit of Fourth of July, I decided to do something a little patriotic and very classic. Ta da!

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Sorry for the bad picture. As I said, I don’t know how to use my camera yet…

Anyways, this is Patriotic Red Velvet Cake! Mmm. Everybody loves red velvet, right? Surely a crowd-pleaser. 

I’m usually more inclined to make cupcakes, since they’re more fun to decorate, but since I haven’t made a cake in a while… well, why not?

Before I get to the recipe, explanation of my updates: first semester of summer school is done and luckily I did not too shabby overall! Today I started second semester, nervous because of the new (and allegedly more difficult) professor and content, but ready to go after a weekend in Maui with relatives and their friends! We got to snorkel in the most beautiful waters I’ve ever seen and see the sunset ABOVE THE CLOUDS from a peak overlooking the surrounding island and waters. 

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We got to eat good food, see amazing sights, and, best of all, simply hang out with some wonderful people. I know that I came off antisocial and isolated, which was obviously my mistake and something I regret so so much, but it was definitely the break I needed. I think I ended up getting out of my silent groove after a day or so, anyhow. #introvertproblems

And now that school has restarted, I find myself reminiscing on the good times had last week… especially the Star-Spangled (ish) cake! I don’t think this needs an introduction, so without further ado…

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Red Velvet “Open Layer” Cake

For the cake

  •  2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1-2 tsp
  • 2 oz red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

 For the cream cheese frosting

*Note: This batch produced enough for a thin layer in the middle of the cake layers and  enough to cover the top layer. If you really like cream cheese frosting on your red velvet cake, you might want to multiply this recipe by 1.5.

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Grease two 9-inch round pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring. Set aside.

 2. Combine the buttermilk, salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the oil and 1 ½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. (This will look kind of slushy, but it should be well-mixed.) Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture. Beat in the buttermilk mixture alternately with the flour, mixing until just incorporated. Stir together baking soda and vinegar then gently fold into the cake batter.

3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. While waiting for the cake to bake, in a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Spoon half into another bowl and mix in as much blue food coloring as desired. (I added ~10 drops.) 

5. Once cakes are cool, transfer bottom layer onto serving platter. Spread either blue or white frosting on top, but not too close to the edges, as it will spread out when the top layer is added. Place second cake layer on top of middle frosting. Use other frosting to cover top. Garnish cake with blueberries, sprinkles, or other decorations. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. 

Happy belated 4th of July! What did you make?

Blurrrrberries

Man.

Life’s been a blur. As in, the past week has been insane. Not in terms of what I’m doing, though; it’s more like what I’m experiencing. 

Like I posted in New Friends, I’ve met some people at church and it’s been great hanging out with them! It’s also really nice to have a friend or two at school, even if I only see them for a little bit while we’re in class or studying… and then we go home. Regardless, it’s nice having someone there to laugh with, complain with, walk with; just BE with. 

There have been blurs of visiting a new church, meeting new people, trying new things, and starting new projects, as well as the somewhat-stressed blurs of schoolwork and studies.

But something that is constant throughout this chaos is…

FRUIT.

(and God, and family, and friends. But…)

FRUIT IS AMAZING and, although it’s not California fruit, Hawaii fruit is so… delicious. And everywhere! As my auntie said, “You don’t eat fruit, Syd. You INHALE FRUIT.” 

I’ve been eating apples every day, mangoes when I can, fruit flavored yogurt, pears, pineapple (I pretty much ate the whole pineapple myself… oops! Sorry, not sorry.) and any other fruit thing I can get my hands on. Is it possible to get diabetes from all that fruit sugar? Naw. 

So, as the title of this post suggests, I was charged with bringing a dessert for the family’s Father’s Day dinner at my cousins’ house. (Happy belated Father’s Day to any dads reading this!) Hmm… well… I wonder what to make… 

I knew one thing for sure: It must include fruit. 

And lucky me! Blueberries were on sale at the store! (WHAT!? INCONCEIVABLE.) So my auntie bought three, and I thought, “Well, if they’re there, I guess I have to use them!”

From there, and with the help of Ji-Sun and her wonderful suggestions, I present to you…

Blueberry Crumb Bars!

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Aw yeah. 

So light and delicious and fruity, they’re the perfect dessert served with ice cream or plain on any type of day!

The original recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, a delightful blog that looks oh-so-classy. Y’all should bookmark that, by the way. 

When I got all my stuff together to start baking an hour and a half before dinnertime, I realized… “Oh hey, we don’t have a lemon… or lemon juice!” Oops, poor planning on my part. In the recipe, lemon adds the tartness that is desired in crumb bars and is usually paired with blueberries to even out the flavor. Without that, what should I use?

Good news! We still have some pineapple!

I used the juice from that to sub for the lemon juice, and for the lemon zest that was originally called for, I used a teensy tiny bit of lemon extract. Worked like a charm!

And I was so flattered when everybody loved them at dinner! I only made half a batch to fill an 8×8 pan, but I should’ve made the full recipe (below) because almost all of it was gone by the end of dinner. This one’s a keeper!

Without further ado….

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Blueberry Crumb Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of one lemon; OR 5-6 tbsp fresh pineapple juice and 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest/lemon extract. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice/pineapple juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.

How’d yours turn out?

Decisions!

Guys help! 

I’m in charge of making dessert this Sunday, and since we have blueberries, I should probably include some of that!

So many options… how to narrow it down???

My suggestions

-not super heavy and unhealthy (after all, it’s fruit)

-not super time-consuming (I have an exam on Wednesday I should study for…)

-DELICIOUS

 

What should I do? Comment with your best blueberry suggestions!