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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes

I've been seeing so many peppermint related dessert posts lately, really makes it hard to not to do the same. For my company's holiday potluck today I brought Peppermint Chocolate Cupcakes.

For the chocolate cake part, I used one of my favorite one bowl recipe. I normally alternate between the Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake or Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake. This time I used the Ina Garten recipe but swamped out the regular coffee with decaf.

Below is the frosting recipe I came up with. This is enough frosting for 24 generously frosted cupcakes.

Peppermint Marshmallow buttercream

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) room temperature unsalted butter
  • 4 oz marshmallow fluff
  • 1  tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar- shifted
  • 4 tbs milk

Beat the butter on medium speed until it's light in color and fluffy. Add the marshmallow cream, salt, peppermint, vanilla extract, powdered sugar and milk. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Add more milk or powdered sugar pending on if the frosting is too thin (more powdered sugar) or too thick (more milk).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 Recap

This year is the first year that I hosted Thanksgiving. The guest list went from 15 people to 29 people 5 days before Thanksgiving so I was scrambling to come up with a better way to cook the turkey since I knew I wouldn't have enough oven space if I have to bake the turkey for 4.5 hours. 

J's family had fried turkeys (using Butterball XL Electric Fryer) in the past so he suggested doing so since it only takes about 50 mins for a 14 lb bird. At Trader Joe's we decided to get 2 turkeys when we saw the natural, brined turkeys were only $1.99/lb. We got a 14 lb and a 15 lb. We decided on two different flavor injections, Cajun and Savory (typical Thanksgiving herbs). Both came out to be very juicy and flavorful. We are definitely frying turkey from now on!

What was on the menu (made by me and my mom):
2 Fried turkeys- Cajun and Savory 
Apple sausage stuffing
Baked sweet potatoes- cinnamon, honey, butter
Baked red potatoes
Mashed red potatoes
Roasted peppers and onion
Roasted zucchini and yellow squash
Garlic bread
spring rolls
Korean BBQ
Coconut Shrimps
Scallops wrapped in bacon
Shrimp, scallops and asparagus stir fried

Following were made by my Aunt Connie:
King crab salad
Shrimp cocktail
Stir fried lobsters
Clams casino

Desserts (mostly made by me):
Chocolate cake with strawberry filling with whipped cream frosting
Twinkies cupcakes
Pumpkin Pie from Julia's Bakery
Italian pastries from Julia's Bakery

Since I was too busy all day, I forgot to take pictures. Most of the below pictures are from my brother Cliff. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Tomorrow is our Pot Luck at work and of course I'm bringing cupcakes. I found these mini Reese's Mini's while shopping for Halloween candy. Thought they would be great as cupcake toppers. This turns into making peanut butter frosting cupcakes. 

For the chocolate cake, I used the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake for the cake part and decided on a peanut butter whipped frosting. The only difference with the cake is that I substituted the hot water with coffee. 

Peanut Butter Whipped Frosting
24-28 cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/marshmallow fluff
  • 5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3-5 tbs milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the peanut butter, butter and marshmallow fluff in a large bowl until smooth. Add the vanilla in the mixture. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix on low until well incorporated. Add in the milk one tbs at a time until you get your desired consistency. Beat the whole mixture on medium high until it's light a fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

End of Summer Makeup Haul

I used to be really into makeup and skincare products but the older I get the more lazy I am. Plus I realized that buying new products every month is a major waste. I ended up having to constantly throwing out products I barely used. Now I only buy makeup every 6 months or so and keep my skincare products down to the essentials.

This haul all started two weeks ago when I was on the Sephora website and saw the Hello Kitty cosmetics on sale. I could not resist when I saw the Super Fun makeup collection and also the Happy Fun make up collection. I bought them purely for the Hello Kitty shaped compacts. It was just a bonus that they both came with eyeshadow sticks, eyeliner and lip gloss. Then I saw the Sephora makeup palette that  was on sale too so had to get it!

I was running out of refill for my Shiseido InteGrate Micro Slim Eyebrow pencils so I order more from Everything is in Japanese Yen since it is based in Japan. You pay by using Paypal. This is the second time I purchased something from this seller and so far I am very happy with their products and service.

Then today I went to Lord and Taylor looking to use up my $100 gift card. I was contemplating on buying this purple Kate Spade cross body bag but then J said it was ugly and he rather me spend the extra money on a Tory Burch bag. Since I wasn't really that into it I moved over to the beauty counters. I went to the Lacome counter and the sales lady talked me into getting the blush palette and also their new parfum La Vie Est Belle (1.7oz). Since my purchase was WAY over $40 I got the Gift with Purchase which include a red makeup bag, sample size eyeshadow palette, mascara, eyelash booster, eye makeup remover and Renergie Lift moisturizer/serum.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

White Chocolate Dried Cherries Cookies

I made some chocolate chip cookies for J to take to work yesterday and while assembling the ingredients, I found some dried cherries I bought last month that I totally forgot about. I thought the cookie dough base for the chocolate chip cookies would be great with cherries also. 

White Chocolate Dried Cherries Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat on medium high speed with your mixer until the mixture is creamy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Gradually add in flour mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips and cherries. Drop  tablespoon full of cookie dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Make sure the dough balls are at least 1 inch apart so they don't stick together once they are baked. 

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Baby Stavola Cake

Yesterday was my cousin Tina's baby shower. I can't believe two years ago I was making her bridal shower cake and now my little cousin is having a little bundle of joy of her own.

The bottom layer is strawberry cake with marshmallow frosting. The recipe can be found here: Sweetapolita-Strawberry Layer Cake. For the top layer, it's just a standard butter cake recipe with strawberry jam and marshmallow frosting.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Michael!

Today is our nephew Michael's 2nd birthday celebration. My sister in law is having a big bash for him this afternoon. I am super excited about this Sesame Street themed cake I made for him. Can't wait for him to see it!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Berry Pie- No baking required

It's my in law's big 4th of July on 6th of July bash this afternoon. I already made a key lime pie and cheesecake brownie but thought a berry pie would be a great addition to such a hot day. 

This is how Riggs spends his time while I'm busy in the kitchen. 

This is super easy and can be made with fresh or frozen berries of your choice. Perfect for a hot summer day! The recipe is an adaptation from Joy of Baking.

Berry Pie (Strawberries and Blueberries)
  • one 9 inch store bought graham cracker crust
  • 1.5 lb fresh strawberries (cut into bite size chunks)
  • 1 lb fresh blueberries
  • 3 tbs seedless berry jam of your choice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold water 
  • 1 packet (7 gram) of unflavored gelatin 
  • 1 tbs lemon or lime juice
Make sure your berries are washed and well drained. The water will thin out the gelatin sauce. 

In a small sauce pan, combine the 1/4 cup water, lemon juice, jam and sugar. Heat on medium temperature until the sauce comes to a boil. Remove the sauce pan from heat. 

In a small bowl, pour 1/4 cup of water over the unflavored gelatin. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Then microwave the mixture for about 30 seconds. Pour the berry sauce over the gelatin mixture and stir until well mixed. Refrigerate the mixture until it starts to gel. 

In a big bowl, combined the gelatin sauce with fresh strawberries and blueberries. Make sure the berries are well coated with the sauce. Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. Refrigerate the pie for at least a couple of hours. 

Serve with whipped cream or as is. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Belated 4th of July

J's parents normally host a huge 4th of July bash every year. Since this year most of us have to work on 5th of July, the party was moved to 6th of July (Saturday).

On the 4th, I spent the morning/early afternoon baking since I wouldn't have time to do it on the 5th.  While baking, I enjoyed a couple of mock Pina Coladas. I used pineapple infused coconut water with coconut run. Low calories and refreshing!

I made a key lime pie and also cheesecake with brownie base. The cheesecake with brownie base was J's idea after I showed him the PHILLY Brownie Cheesecake recipe from Kraft. I made some adjustments to the recipe (cut the cheesecake recipe in half) since I didn't want to make such a big cheesecake.

For the rest of the afternoon we went shopping at the outlet in Clinton then went to Mohegan Sun Casino for the night.

Hope you all had a great 4th of July!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Seaside Fun

J's family have been going to Seaside Park, NJ for the past 10 years. The boardwalk was washed away last year during hurricane Sandy but most of it has been rebuilt except for the amusement park. Even without all the rides, we still had a great time this past weekend. We spent two days hanging out on the beach and visiting the boardwalk.

Hoping next year the rides will be back up since my nieces and nephews love going on the rides. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Start to a great long weekend

My weekend started early this week since we're going to the Jersey Shore for the weekend. Before we headed to the beach, we had a great breakfast at Chips. Chips is our go to spot for breakfast.  It's becoming a traditional for my cousin Tina and us to meet up for breakfast once a month there. Since my cousin Jenn and her two adorable girls are visiting from TX and my cousin Sam has the day off, we all decided to meet up for breakfast.

I wish Jenn lives closer so we can do it often!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Key Lime Cheesecake Pie

J and I just got back from our Bahamas cruise (Majesty of the Seas, 4 nights). This is the third time that we have done this itinerary and ship. It stops in Nassau Bahamas, CocoCay (RCI's private island) and Key West. One of my favorite place to visit in Key West is Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe. I always have to get a slice of key lime pie and also some key limeade. This time I bought a bottle of key lime juice to take home. Tomorrow we are going to J's parent's house for dinner,  I decided to make a key lime pie.

Key Lime Cheesecake Pie

  • 9 or 10 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup of key lime juice
  • 5 egg yolks (save the egg whites for meringue topping for later use)
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, cream cheese and egg yolks on medium speed with the mixer. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake pie stand in oven for another 20 minutes with the oven door open at least 4 inches. Remove the cheesecake pie from the oven then let it cool on the counter for about 30 minutes then refrigerate. 

You can either make a meringue to top the key lime cheesecake pie or top with whipped cream.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What to do on a rainy day??

It's been a while since I last posted due to the fact that I was sick for almost a month. The first week (right after I got back from CA) it started off just as having the sniffles then it got worst but I attributed the sinus congestion to being allergies. Then by the last week of April, I felt like I got ran over by a truck. 

When I finally went to the doctor that Tuesday, it turned into severe upper respiratory and sinus infections. He prescribed me antibiotics/Robitussin AC and told me I have to stay for at least two days before I can go back to work. I finally felt better last week. I think this was the sickest I've been since I've been an adult. So of course for about a month I didn't really do much of anything besides going to work and going to sleep after I got home. 

Since the weather is really shitty today I figured I would just stay home and try to clean up the house since I couldn't do much of anything last month. Besides cleaning, I also made some yummy foods for dinner. I made a big pot of Japanese Chicken Curry for me, Chicken cutlet with bruschetta topping for J and chocolate chips cookies.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Corporate Restructuring=Trip to So. Cal?

Normally when companies have Corporate Restructuring it means it's time to fine a new job since the company is not doing well financially. Well, that is not true when it comes to my company. Our business have grown significantly in the past few years that the old structure is not functional anymore.

When my ex-manager called me into his office a month ago, I thought I was getting the bad news. It was very nerve racking since I have been very dedicated to my job since I started last November. Boy, was I wrong. He wanted to let me know that I will be under a new department and sadly he will no longer be my manager. I'm still working in the same office, pretty much have the same job and still at the same desk but I now report to higher ups in TX and CA.

This means my coworker Maribeth and I get to go to our HQ in CA. Where in CA? My old home sweet home, Irvine! When my family first immigrated to the US,  we lived in Irvine and Tustin. Ever since after college, I haven't been able to go back too often. Even when I'm back there, I don't normally go back to Irvine and Tustin.

 The last time I went back was the end of 2009 for my aunt's funeral. I still have a lot of family there but since my business trip was only for a few days, I only got to meet up with my super talented brother Josh one of the nights for dinner. Even though it was very hectic I had a really great time meeting everyone at the HQ and also got to see how much Irvine has changed!

Huntington Beach
Newport Beach Pie

In-N-Out cheeseburger animal style! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baby Shower Cupcakes for Work

My colleague James and his wife are expecting their first baby! All of us at work decided to throw him a surprised baby shower/pot luck. Me being me, of course I had to bring dessert. I decided on making chocolate cake filled with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream and top with Whipped Ganache frosting. I also decorate the top with fondant cut outs. Can you guess what the baby's initial will be??

I brought 12 to work and let J bring 12 to his co-workers too.

For the cake part, I used Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate cake recipe. Makes 24 standard sized cupcakes.

For the Swiss meringue, if you are only filling the cake with it, you want to divide the recipe by 5 since it's a lot of buttercream.  I made a big batch so I can freeze it (last up to 8 weeks in air tight container) for later use. The recipe I used is from Sweetapolita.

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 1 cup of Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 2 tbs of strawberry preserves
Beat the ingredients together until well incorporated. If the mixture is runny, beat in some powdered sugar (2-3 tbs). 

Chocolate Ganache Piped Frosting
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs room temperature unsalted butter
In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips in heavy whipping cream. Take the melted chocolate mixture off the heat then mix in light corn syrup and vanilla extra. Let the mixture cool (room temperature). Whip in the butter with your electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is a whipped frosting consistency. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blackberry Oatmeal Bars

I recently saw this Strawberry Oatmeal Bars recipe from The Pioneer Women and couldn't believe how easy it is. I knew I have to try it. I love cookies and bars with oats in them! I think it's because I feel that they are healthier than regular baked goods since you get extra fiber from the oats.

Since I don't have any strawberry preserves on hand, I used blackberry and lingonberry preserves. I also drizzled some honey on the top of the oats.

The end result is freaking delicious!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blizzard of 2013- Chinese New Year

To be honest, I really didn't think this snowstorm would be so severe. I thought ok, the most we'll get is  20 inches and things should go back to normal by Saturday night. Boy, was I wrong! In our area in CT, we got between 36-42 inches dumped on us within a 24 hour period.

 It is now Sunday and majority of the roads in CT are still not plowed. In our driveway, there are about 3 feet of snow. Our regular plow guy is so busy that who knows when he will get to our house. I worked from home on Friday and most likely I will have to do the same again on Monday.

Where's the stairs??

Street? What street?

5 ft of snow drifts on the deck! 

So on top of having the epic snowstorm this weekend, it's also Chinese New Year. We were suppose to have a big dinner for Chinese New Year's Eve on Saturday night but since everyone is trapped in their houses, the dinner consist of J, me, my parents and my cousin Tina who's been at my house since Thursday night. For our New Year's Eve dinner; we had hot pot, chicken, fish and some sort of smoked fish egg roe thing.

While being stuck inside, we've been pigging out. Friday night I made banana bread. Saturday night Jeff made some brownies from a box mix. It's now Sunday and I just made some blueberry coffee cake muffins.

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffin
adaptation from Ina Garten's recipe
makes 16-24 muffins
  • 12 tbs of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbs lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 half-pints fresh blueberries
  • sanding sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffin pans with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Turn the speed of your mixer on low and add the eggs 1 at a time then add the vanilla, sour cream, milk, lemon zest. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix until all the ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the blueberries. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Fill each cup to about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the sanding sugar on top of the batter. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned on top and when inserted a tooth pick into the center of the cake, it comes out clean.