crafting is sanity

DIY or die.

Green Velvet Mini Cupcakes

Another belated post! I made these green velvet mini cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day and they turned out super cute!

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I searched Pinterest very thoroughly for “green desserts” and I liked the green velvet cupcake idea the best. This is the recipe I used, but cut in half! Half of the recipe still made about 30 minis – perfect amount to bring into work 🙂 Start with your ingredients:

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I had most of the ingredients already and I just had to pick up the green food coloring, mini cupcake liners and the green sprinkles. I was slightly obsessed with finding green sprinkles that weren’t sugar sprinkles so I ended up going to two different Ralph’s, Party City and a Michael’s before I went to Surfas, which is a restaurant supply store near where I live. Of course, they had the perfect green sprinkles! They were however, in a bulk jar -_____- but still cheap! Roughly $3 for a big jar. Too bad I don’t know what to do with all the leftover sprinkles now…

Anyways! Mix together your dry ingredients~ I added an extra scoop of cocoa powder to make it more chocolatey 🙂

IMG_1236Then mix your wet ingredients in a separate bowl

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Then dump the green food coloring in!! I think I used a little over half the bottle. Be careful, because it WILL stain your fingers and your kitchen table…

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Then pour this lovely green mixture into your dry ingredients and combine to make a batter!

IMG_1239Now you’re ready to pour and bake! I got these super cute gold foil mini cupcake liners at Michael’s because I wanted them to look like little pots of gold! (At one point I considered buying rainbow sprinkles to make my life easier and to have the whole rainbow and pot of gold thing going :P)

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Aren’t they cute?? Now fill each liner about 2/3 of the way

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They were such a pretty green before baking! But after they were done, they looked like this…

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So cute! Now it’s time to frost! My cream cheese frosting is SUPER simple – just mix cream cheese with powdered sugar! I just add a little bit of sugar at a time until I like the taste hahah 🙂 I also made wayyyyyy too much frosting! I should’ve just used 1 block of cream cheese instead of 2. Oh well 😛

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I don’t have piping bags so I frost with a ziploc bag and cut the tip off to the width I prefer, like so

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Then I just squeeze the bag as I rotate the cupcake around. Start in the center and just spin the cupcake around until you get enough frosting on there 🙂

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Some turned out nicer than others, but they’re so cute! Then its time for sprinkles!! Whee!

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I tried not to waste too many sprinkles on the table 😛

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Then I placed them very carefully and neatly on my cake carrier tray and put them in the fridge overnight before taking them to work! I find that keeping them in the fridge makes them moister and hardens the frosting just a little so transport is a little easier 🙂

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So green inside!! These were a hit at the office and the mini size really encouraged people to take multiples 🙂 They were really fun to make, even though I now have a surplus of green sprinkles lol 😛

Hope everyone had a happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Samoa Shortbread Bars

Welcome to part 2 of my Samoa cookie recipe comparison! After my first try, I wasn’t super satisfied with the results so I browsed Pinterest for another recipe to try and came upon this Samoa Shortbread Bar recipe 🙂 I was much happier with the results!

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Please excuse all the terrible iPhone pics – I made these bars in a rush 😛 Start with your ingredients for the shortbread:

IMG_9945Combine them together to make a dough-

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And press into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

IMG_9950Meanwhile, start toasting your coconut flakes until they’re nicely golden brown.

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And now for the sticky part – melting the caramel! I don’t like melting in my microwave and I don’t have metal or glass mixing bowls to make a double boiler, so I generally do this method of putting ceramic bowls in a pan of water and boiling it lol.

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It took about 13 minutes to melt the caramel down to the consistency I needed.

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Then mix with the toasted coconut

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And spread it evenly over the baked shortbread. Press the topping down onto the shortbread to make sure it really sticks together.

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Wait for everything to cool a little and then cut it. I used a large knife but even then the shortbread crumbled a bit and I broke some pieces 😦 But it was fixable! Now it’s time to make the chocolate part! Melt the chocolate in the same way as the caramels (or something easier if that’s available to you)

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I used a spoon to smear the chocolate on the bottom of each bar and put them on parchment paper.

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And instead of drizzling the chocolate on top, I just kinda smeared the tops with some chocolate too 🙂

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I ended up cutting each bar in half to make smaller pieces. With some of the pieces that broke, I used the chocolate sauce to “glue” them back together, and it mostly worked! And I liked this recipe much more than the first one I tried. Big hit! 🙂

Happy baking~!

Yenny

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Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Coconut Bars (Samoa Bars)

Although it’s not officially Spring yet, we did just “spring” forward for Daylight Savings Time! And it’s Girl Scout cookie season, yay! Although Girl Scout cookies are delicious, my favorites are the Lemonades and Tagalongs – their Samoas seem to be one of the most popular ones! So this month, I tried two different Samoa Bar recipes – one definitely turned out better than the other. I tried this Martha Stewart recipe, and although it was yummy, it didn’t quite capture the flavor of a Samoa.

IMG_1045Start with your ingredients:

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Yes, yes I know this looks like an advertisement for generic brands, but I’m a big believer in generic brands! 😀 The recipe calls for a 15×10 inch rimmed pan, but I don’t have one and after reading the comments on the original post, I decided to use a 9×13 inch pan and it worked great!

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Make the base using graham cracker crumbs (I used one sleeve of crackers), sugar and butter. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Let the cookie base cool before adding toppings. So this is where I started diverging from the recipe a little, haha 🙂

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Crunch the pecans into smaller pieces and toast them in a pan while the crust is baking. Once the crust has cooled, drizzled some condensed milk so the toppings have something to stick to.

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Then start adding the pecans and chocolate chips. Please excuse the crappy iPhone pics, my camera was out of battery 😦

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I actually did two rounds of pecans and chocolate chips and then I drizzled more condensed milk over that. then top with some coconut flakes:

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Stick back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the coconut has toasted.

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I cut them into rectangular bars at work, but then they ended up being too big so I cut them into squares.

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Although this recipe was relatively easy (except for the stickiness of the condensed milk), it didn’t really taste like a Samoa to me. There wasn’t that caramel-y flavor and the coconut wasn’t very incorporated with the bar, so it made for some messy eating, whoops! I wish the toppings had come together a little better. I do like the second Samoa bar recipe I tried much better so stay tuned for that post later this month!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Valentine’s Day Pretzel Hugs & Kisses

Happy (super belated) Valentine’s Day!! I decided to make pretzel hugs and kisses for Valentine’s Day this year and I’ve made them before for Christmas so these treats work for any holiday that has color themed M&Ms 🙂

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Start with your ingredients – square pretzels (they’re called snaps), Hershey’s hugs and kisses, and M&Ms.

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I actually bought the kisses after I made the hugs batch 😛 Spread the pretzels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place a hug or kiss on top.

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Put them into a 200 degree oven for 4-6 minutes. The hugs get softer much quicker than the kisses – they take about 4-5 minutes. The kisses took about 6-7 minutes. Once they’re soft and shiny (but still holding their shape!) take them out of the oven and place and M&M on top.

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I use a chopstick to press the M&M down but when the chocolate isn’t ready, you end up with something like this…

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Whoops. It’s still edible and delicious of course, but not as pretty if you’re giving them away. You put it back into the oven and kinda save it or you can leave it and eat it yourself 🙂 Once you get the hang of it, I do it assembly line style to get the whole tray done.

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I stick them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool them down quickly. Then I transfer them to a cooling rack so I can reuse the cookie sheet to make more. Once they’re completely cooled, you can store them in a container to bring to work like I did!

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The salty sweet combination is so addicting! And because they’re so little, it’s really hard to stop at just one… 😛

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Yummy!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

It was my friend Kim’s birthday in October and I baked her a Chocolate Raspberry Bundt cake for for birthday dinner! I really wanted to use my new Nordicware Fleur de Lis Bundt Pan so I scoured Pinterest for bundt cake recipes until I found one I liked. I made some slight moderations to the original recipe, but for the most part it stayed the same 🙂

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Start with your ingredients:

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In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing after each, and stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down the bowl as needed.

I always reduce the amount of sugar I use and instead of buying buttermilk (I can never use the whole carton) I buy regular milk and make buttermilk by adding lemon juice to curdle it. Grease and flour your bundt pan WELL so your cake doesn’t get stuck inside. Since the pan is pretty ornate, I was super careful to spray and flour all the nooks and crannies.

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It was only after I baked my cake that I realized I had OVERgreased and floured the pan 😦 Anyways, add a little batter, make sure it gets into the tips of the designs.

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The original recipe doesn’t call for raspberries in the middle of the cake, but I decided to chop some up and sprinkle them in

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Then I scooped more batter, another layer of chopped raspberries and then the final layer of batter.

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Then I popped it into the oven to bake! I put it in for 55 minutes and I think my cake was a little dry, I probably would take this out at 48-50 minutes (or even less) because the carryover heat will continue to bake it. In the meantime, I really wanted to make a raspberry syrup for the cake. I decided to use raspberry jam but I couldn’t find seedless jam so I had to STRAIN it to get it how I wanted it. I don’t recommend this lol.

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I made about a cup of the syrup before I got tired and gave up 😛 Time to take the cake out of the oven!

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Definitely puffed up! I pushed this as flat as I could before flipping it over. Cake came out very smoothly BUT

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Do you see how the edges are yellow? THAT is too much butter and flour! Lesson learned – don’t go overboard with the cooking spray hahaha

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Spoon the syrup over the cake. After doing this, I thought it kinda looked like blood… so I added fresh raspberries and some powdered sugar to make it look prettier!

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I’m MUCH happier with the way this looks!

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All lit up for the birthday girl!

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Happy birthday Kim!

Kim also has a really awesome food blog and is a MUCH better baker than I am! Go check out her recipes!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Bubble Up Pizza Bread

Sigh. Once again, I failed at two posts this month 😦 Barelyyyy getting this one in before October! Super easy and carb-filled recipe to share today. Of course, this is another idea from Pinterest and since I love me some pizza, I couldn’t help but make this! And I’ve made it several times now – yummy! But gotta watch those carbs!

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I’m getting hungry just looking at this picture! Start with your ingredients:

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Grands biscuits (or any kind of ready-to-bake biscuits), pepperoni, cheese, chili flakes, garlic powder, olive oil and minced garlic. Of course, feel free to use your favorite pizza toppings! I prefer to keep it simple with pepperoni (turkey in this case!)

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Cut each biscuit into quarters, and try not to squish them too much!

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Toss together in a large bowl with the olive oil, cheese, pepperoni, garlic powder, garlic and the chili flakes. I did this in batches so the biscuits and toppings would be evenly distributed.

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Spray your pan well with cooking spray, or you can use oil or butter as well. Then dump the pizza biscuit mixture into the pan. Spread it out evenly so it has room to bake and puff up. I topped the mix with some more cheese and chili flakes 😀

Bake according to the directions on the biscuit tube, then test for done-ness. I noticed that sometimes, they were ready to eat after the recommended time, but I usually baked them a little longer until it got a little browner on top. The following pictures are not all from the same batch… but they were all delicious!

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A super easy and delicious meal! Eating it is true carbi-cide but hey, a girl’s gotta indulge every once in a while! 🙂

 

Happy pizza baking!

Yenny

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I baked a cheesecake!

My friend (and neighbor) Alex turns 24 today! Wow, he is SUCH a youngin’! I like to think of him as the little brother I never had – which means I like to boss him around and needle him and be kinda mean to him 😛 Like any big sister would! Anyway, he’s young and has the metabolism of the Energizer bunny (super unfair!). He asked me to bake him a cheesecake for his birthday and I did!

Definitely not as pretty as I had hoped =/

Definitely not as pretty as I had hoped =/

It was my first time baking a cheesecake and it’s definitely a time intensive thing to make! I followed this recipe with a few modifications.

Ingredients!

Ingredients!

I can’t drink milk so I always have soy milk in my fridge – I subbed soy milk for the milk and used more graham crackers than what the recipe called for. So my friends and I did a white elephant gift exchange over Christmas last year and I got this handy dandy blender! (Similar to the size of the Magic Bullet but not upside down) I decided to try and see if I could make graham cracker crumbs with it!

I think I started with 4 broken up crackers

I think I started with 4 broken up crackers

Pulse pulse pulse!

Pulse pulse pulse!

Pretty successful!

Pretty successful!

I had to pick out a few chunks that didn’t get blended but overall it was MUCH faster and easier than my old method of crushing the crackers in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin hahah 🙂 So I had to do the whole blender thing maybe 4 more times to get this:

Super fine!

Super fine!

NOTE: You can also buy pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs at the store but what do you do with the rest of the box?? I like buying whole crackers and crushing them myself because I can eat the rest of the un-used crackers! I am definitely NOT going to eat the rest of a box of graham cracker crumbs. Unless I was really really starving 😛

I used roughly 20 graham crackers and 9 tablespoons of melted butter to make the crust

I used roughly 20 graham crackers and 9 tablespoons of melted butter to make the crust

It was probably more butter than I needed but I really wanted to make sure the crust stayed put and held together!

Now time for the cheesecake filling. It is REALLY important to let all the non-dry ingredients reach room temperature before you start baking!! I let everything sit out for 2 hours before I started (you can see from the time on my microwave between the ingredient picture and the graham cracker picture). It is much much easier to cream the ingredients together when they’re at room temperature!

This was just the cream cheese and sugar creamed together

This was just the cream cheese and sugar creamed together

Yummmm

Yummmm

Once you add the eggs, vanilla, milk and flour it gets much more liquid.

Ready!

Ready!

Carefully pour the cheesecake batter onto your crust. I actually spooned it at first to make sure my crust stayed in the pan :)

Carefully pour the cheesecake batter onto your crust. I actually spooned it in at first to make sure my crust stayed in the pan 🙂

To prepare the cheesecake for its water bath, I wrapped the bottom in foil like so:

IMG_0837Then put the springform pan into the empty roasting pan and slide it into the oven. THEN pour water into the roasting pan. It’s hard to see in my picture, but I filled the water level until it was about halfway.

I just used cold water from the tap, not boiling water like the instructions say

I just used cold water from the tap, not boiling water like the instructions say

I baked it for a total of 1 hour and 16 minutes, which was definitely a little too long! I checked it at one hour and it was still very very liquid. So I added 8 minutes, checked again and added 8 more minutes. I probably should have stopped after 1 hour and 8 minutes. To prevent cracking, I left the cheesecake IN the oven for 2 hours until the oven was cool . I finished baking at 9:30PM and took the cheesecake out around 11:30PM. The top was definitely a little brown 😦

This is how it looked after about 18 hours in the fridge:

Not terrible but not very pretty either!

Not terrible but not very pretty either!

Too brown on that edge!

Too brown on that edge!

Crust was a little messy with I took off the ring

Crust was a little messy when I took off the ring

But the birthday boy seemed to enjoy it! He ate a huuuge slice after I gave it to him 🙂

Happy Birthday Alex!

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy!

Happy baking!

-Yenny

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Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

Happy February!

Continuing my posts about the dishes I made for my holiday potluck! Today is the third and final thing I made! And I totally cheated for this one 🙂 My friend Wandy had brought Pao de Queijo for another potluck I had been to and it was so deliciously yummy and easy when I found out that she had used a mix, I was sold!

This is the mix I found at the Brazilian grocery store

This is the mix I found at the Brazilian grocery store

Luckily in my neighborhood, there’s a Brazilian grocery store that has the mix. Unfortunately the directions were in Portuguese:

My Spanish knowledge wasn't super helpful here

My Spanish knowledge wasn’t super helpful here 😦

Google translate to the rescue!

Not 100% exact, but good enough for me to follow!

Not 100% exact, but good enough for me to follow!

Here are the instructions:

1. Pour contents of bag into a medium bowl and add 1/2 cup of cold water and 2 medium eggs.

2. Mix well until all liquid is absorbed. Knead dough for about 3 minutes, or until smooth and incorporated.

3. Pinch and roll into balls (I did about 1.25 inch diameter) and place onto baking sheet. Make sure to leave room in between.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 40 minutes or until they are golden.

Step 1 - pour the mix into a bowl

Step 1 – pour the mix into a bowl

 

Step 2 - add eggs and water

Step 2 – add eggs and water

 

Step 3 - mix!

Step 3 – mix!

 

Ready to go into the oven!

Ready to go into the oven!

I don’t remember exactly how long I baked them, but it wasn’t for the whole 40 minutes as suggested in the instructions. I checked on them after about 30 minutes and they were ready!

So fluffy n the inside with a great crunch on the outside!

So fluffy and chewy on the inside with a great crunch on the outside!

Yum yum!

Yum yum!

I wish I had taken a picture of the inside so you could’ve seen the chewiness/fluffiness! Oh well, maybe next time! I’ve seen many recipes on Pinterest for Pao de Queijo made from scratch but I don’t think I want to spend that much time to make it when the mix is so simple and tastes great to me!

Thank you Wandy for introducing me to Pao de Queijo mix and for always reading my blog! 🙂

 

-Yenny

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Tart

A few of my friends and I got together to have a potluck before the holiday craze started and at first, there were more of us going! But 3 of them ended up having to be out of town/were busy for various reasons but I still ended up making 3 different dishes for the potluck! And I’m glad I did! It gave me a chance to try recipes I had pinned but never had an occasion to make. Enter this chocolate tart:

Not as smooth as I wanted it to turn out =/

Not as smooth as I wanted it to turn out =/

I got the recipe from Pinterest, as usual but never thought I would get a chance to make it since I didn’t have a tart pan and had no plans to buy one anytime soon. But I borrowed a tart pan from my coworker and made this tart!

Ingredients! I ended up not using sugar at all

Ingredients! I ended up not using sugar at all

I definitely modified the recipe a little – I always reduce the sugar when I bake and in this case, I omitted it completely. I also scrapped the corn syrup for the glaze on top. Another change was that I had an 11 inch tart pan and the recipe called for a 9 inch one.

Start by crushing the graham crackers-

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I throw them into a ziploc bag and just crush with a rolling pin

I throw them into a ziploc bag and just crush with a rolling pin

Melt the butter

Melt the butter

Throw the crushed graham crackers in

Throw the crushed graham crackers in

And press into the pan and bake!

Because the pan I used was wider than what the recipe called for, I had to crush some extra crackers to cover the bottom and sides

Because the pan I used was wider than what the recipe called for, I had to crush some extra crackers to cover the bottom and sides

While the crust was baking, I started making the filling:

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I used evaporated milk instead of heavy whipping cream

I used evaporated milk instead of heavy whipping cream

And tossed the chocolate in after the milk had come to a boil.

All melted! Then add in eggs, vanilla and salt

All melted! Then add in eggs, vanilla and salt

I slowly spooned the filling into the crust because I was scared that if I had poured the filling in, the crust would’ve gone all over the place!

So smooth and shiny! But not for long...

So smooth and shiny! But not for long…

This is what the tart looked like after it finished baking:

It ended up getting a few bubbles on the surface :(

It ended up getting a few bubbles on the surface 😦

So I proceeded to make the glaze, hoping that it would cover the bubbles. This is where I completely changed the recipe. I usually make a ganache from just butter and chocolate and it turns out great! So I tried making a ganache with the remaining evaporated milk and 4 ounces of chocolate. I also threw some butter in.

My makeshift double boiler

My makeshift double boiler

After everything melted together, I spooned the glaze on top:

It looks much much smoother, but not perfect

It looks much much smoother, but not perfect

Sliced!

Sliced!

So the crust didn’t quite stay intact all the way but it was still delicious! It had that great dark-chocolatey flavor where its slightly bitter. Great texture, almost fudgey! It lasts for a very long time in the fridge – I brought the leftovers in to work and we ate it for about 4 days.

I had a lot of fun baking this tart – but I don’t know if I’d make it again in such a large pan!

I’ll be sharing the other 2 dishes I made later on – most likely in 2014!

Happy holidays!

-Yenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blood Orange Panna Cotta

Here again to share another cooking/baking adventure with everyone! I’ve been itching to try to make panna cotta for a while now since it seems pretty easy and is no nice and smooth when you eat it! So a few of my friends and I decided to do a potluck and I volunteered to make panna cotta – more specifically – blood orange panna cotta! Now, I’ve never eaten a blood orange in my life, but the color is just so vibrant and pretty and the fresh cirtus flavor was perfect for the heat wave we were experiencing in L.A.

Aren't they so pretty?

Aren’t they so pretty?

I followed this recipe from Bon Appetit. It was pretty simple and easy to follow! I think the hardest part was the waiting 🙂

Gather your ingredients & tools

Gather your ingredients & tools

I followed the recipe and bought 12 blood oranges (about 2.5 lbs) from Whole Foods but I really only needed about 9. I highly recommend a juicer or else you’ll be squeezing all those oranges by hand and trust me – it gets tiring!

They're just so pretty!

They’re just so pretty!

The insides are gorgeous as well.

The insides are gorgeous as well

As you juice your oranges, you’ll notice that all the pulp starts to clog up your juicer, like so:

Not good for juicing

Not good for juicing

I scooped the pulp out periodically and kept it aside in case I found a use for it (I didn’t). And continued following the recipe.

Here's the panna cotta batter all mixed together and ready to be poured - so pink and cute!

Here’s the panna cotta batter all mixed together and ready to be poured – so pink and cute!

Here's the syrup right after I turned off the heat - it does clarify once it cools down.

Here’s the syrup right after I turned off the heat – it does clarify once it cools down.

The panna cotta all set up and firm!

The panna cotta all set up and firm!

I left them in the fridge overnight to set completely. The recipe makes 6, but since the potluck was only 4 people, I only finished preparing 4 of them.

The syrup is much clearer after it's been cooled

The syrup is much clearer after it’s been cooled

Spoon a small layer of syrup on top

Spoon a small layer of syrup on top

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And garnish with some blood orange slices!

And garnish with some blood orange slices!

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I loved the way they turned out!

I loved the way they turned out!

I did modify the original recipe a little bit. I halved the sugar in the panna cotta itself and in the syrup as well since I prefer desserts to be less sweet. It worked out perfectly! The panna cotta was fresh and tart and the syrup helped to balance it out with the sweetness. And they were a big hit at the potluck!

P.S. I had to transport these about 20 miles on a twisty winding freeway – I highly recommend having a friend help you. I covered each goblet with plastic wrap, put them in a square baking pan and wrapped towels around the base and had my friend hold the entire thing in her lap.

This was probably not the cheapest thing to make for a potluck – mainly because blood oranges tend to be rather pricy and are smaller than regular oranges and so you need more. But it wasn’t difficult to make! Definitely would make this again for a refreshing dessert for hot weather.

-Happy panna cotta making!

Yenny

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