Welcome to Fall…ish?

School has started. Classes are underway. There are too many meetings to attend. And what’s more–IT’S SO COLD TODAY. It’s only halfway through September; it’s not supposed to be THIS cold already! (For those of you not in Boston, it’s currently 57F. Ew.)

Updates on my life as of late:
1. Did research at Tufts during the summer.
2. Studied for and took the MCAT at the end of August.
3. Traveled to Niagara Falls for a weekend with the boyfriend and his fam.

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4. Moved into an awesome house (school-owned, so no landlords or bills) with some awesome people.

5. Decorated aforementioned house.

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6. Took on too much responsibility in too many extracurriculars… again. Derp.

7. Family came and visited for a weekend! We spent a night at a friend’s in New Hampshire and went apple picking.

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8. Eating healthier & working out again. (Planning to run a 5k in a couple weeks!)

Over the summer, I also tried a bunch of cool restaurants in the area, such as Not Your Average Joe’s, Marliave, Dali, and (not new to me, but my favorite) Elephant Walk. Tip about Not Your Average Joe’s: they give you a free entree AND dessert on your birthday when you sign up for their mailing/birthday list! Be sure to sign up at least three weeks before, though, or it might not go through in time. Also, Elephant Walk is the bomb-diggety. Try the duck crepe if you go for dinner. Spoiler: it’s life-changing. No hyperbole there.

One of my goals for this year is to post here (about food, travels, my feelings) once a week. Apologies if you were expecting just food-related things! I promise that food will still be a part of my life!

OMG I forgot to mention: I’m doing a low-carb high protein diet. Basically, I’m cutting down on starchy carbs like bread, pasta, cereals, rice, potatoes, etc, and eating lots of protein-filled foods like meats, beans, nuts, and tofu. My parents started this diet a few months ago and convinced me to give it a shot, so here I am. It’s actually quite liberating! Even though I can’t eat as many sandwiches as I usually did (it was an everyday thing–I love sandwiches), I’ve been noticing that I feel less sluggish in the middle of the day, don’t feel as “heavy” or like there’s a rock sitting in my stomach all the time, and just have more energy in general. I do eat carbs when I really want them. I allow myself one or two meals per week with carbs, like rice or pasta or a sandwich. It’s kind of like a pseudo-paleo diet… just not as extreme. (I would go paleo but it’s a little difficult to do in the dining hall at school.) I encourage you to give it a shot!

Ok, so now that I’ve sufficiently caught you all up on a good portion of my life, I’m out. Homework is pulling me away. :( I’ll be back soon, I promise! And as I mentioned before, this will be more about life updates AND recipes AND restaurants I want to try/have tried, etc. I might even post some things I learned in my Food, Nutrition, and Culture class! (If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is.)

Peace, Love, and Cookies,

syd

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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. 

Good Morning!

Hello and happy (belated) 2014 to all you out there!

It’s been a cozy 10 degrees (F) for the past few days here in Boston to welcome in the start of the new semester. All I want to do is stay inside for the entire day with piles of blankets, stuffed animals, Christmas lights, and a nice warm mug of hot chocolate.

Alas, I cannot. #class

Regardless, I’ve been drinking mass amounts of hot chocolate and tea to warm my frozen body.

(Speaking of Frozen… o.O :-O !!!! <3 <3 <3 …amirite?)

I’ve also been trying to be healthier, in light of the New Year’s resolutions season. Being healthy can be pretty fun, though! Yesterday I made a salmon salad in the dining hall with some corn, feta cheese, dried cranberries, and dijon mustard dressing. MMM.

Baking healthily can be pretty difficult, though, given the heaps of flour, sugar, butter, and chocolatey things that go into most baked goods. They taste so good, but given enough indulging, it can feel pretty heavy on my self-confidence and stomach.

A couple weeks ago I made some brown sugar snickerdoodles!

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I used this recipe, but after the cookie balls were molded, I dipped them in a mix of cinnamon and sugar (1:2 ratio, I eyeballed).

Mmm they were good. We snacked on them in my suite while we watched Despicable Me 2… my favorite! A Christmas present from my brother ^_^

Though those cookies were scrumptious, I felt pretty sugared up…. so I tried to find healthier recipes I could use…

and found this one!

Behold, Banana Muffins!

(For those of my suitemates who are still asleep right now and are checking Facebook to see this… surprise!)

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What a deliciously healthy start to the morning! These little babies are vegan–no egg, no butter! Glorious, isn’t it?

They feel light and fluffy and oh so tasty with bananas!

I cooked these up in my Babycakes cupcake maker, so they only took 5 minutes in the oven since they’re so small. (whoa.) You can definitely do these in a normal oven, though it’ll take a little longer for normal sized muffins!

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Feel free to indulge and enjoy :)

Eggless Banana Muffins

  • Very ripe bananas – 4 medium
  • Margarine or butter – 2 tablespoon **Notes
  • Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Pure vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Granulated sugar – ½ cup
  • Light brown sugar – ¼ cup
  • All purpose flour (Maida) – 1 ½ cup
  • Baking soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon powder – 1 teaspoon

**Notes: For vegan muffins, use vegan butter or replace with oil.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Place the oven rack in center of the oven
  2. Line a muffin tray with muffin liners.
  3. In a bowl take all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon powder. Mix well and put aside.
  4. Mash the bananas using fork and put them in a bowl.
  5. Add margarine, oil, and vanilla extract to the bananas and mix well. Mix in both sugars.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Don’t overmix! You can also add chocolate chips or walnuts here if you’d like!
  7. Spoon batter into muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then let them cool on wire rack or serve them warm. These can be stored in a refrigerator or in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.

For a small muffin (like the ones in the pictures), they only clock in at 105 calories!

How’d yours turn out? YUMMY

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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!