Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Pies...

After my strawberry shortcake muffin venture, I still had fresh fruit left so I decided to make a petite pie. I used my previous recipe, but wanted to share my two pictures ( I take a lot of picture for each blog, but only choose a few)

Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

I LOVE LOVE LOVE strawberry season. At its peek, a basket of strawberries can cost as low as $0.99! That is CRAZY considering how much time and resources it takes to get these delightful treats to us. In my family, we are insanely addicted to fruits and vegetables especially in their ripe season. YUMS!

So with this strawberry overload, I decided to make a strawberry dessert that would keep the strawberries from withering away in my fridge. So thanks to pinterest, I found a Strawberry Shortcake Cookie recipe that  I kinda made into muffins and modified....this is the original recipe. I changed certain things to keep the muffins on the semi sweet side. 

2 C of Freshly sliced Strawberries cleaned with the Eat Cleaner
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp powder sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 C of 2/3 milk and 3 tbsp of melted butter (I did not have heavy cream)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a bowl lightly mix the strawberries, lemon juice, powder sugar and let sit
3) In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, sugar and salt
4) Slowly add the cold butter into the bowl of dry ingredients - the mixture will have a crumb consistency
5) Add milk and butter mixture in and then slowly fold the strawberries in the dough
6) Spoon the mixture into a the cupcake molds and  bake for ~25 min or until lightly brown surface.

Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream. <3

Perfect Broccoli

Probably not going to be one of my favorite post, but ...honestly, as we get older eating healthy is not a joke. So be happy I'm doing this with broccoli and not with Brussels sprouts (EWWW!) I guess my pitch with this is: have you ever had boiled/ steamed veggies that were mushy? The texture of food and especially with veggies its a crucial thing. I prefer having my vegetables cooked but crunchy. So this is a trick my mom taught me.

1) Clean your veggies with Eat Cleaner 
2) In a pot of boiling water, boil the vegetables for > 8 min
3) Immediately run the vegetables under cold running water - this stops the vegetables from cooking internally and leaves them crunchy and cooked at the same time.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

YAY! I finally made my first rose cake! Granted its just making swirls with a pipette tip (Sorry, the cake is a bit was by far the hottest week in LA when I was making this). So in this blog, I accomplished 3 things off my list: 1) making a lemon poppy seed cake (even though I cheated with the cake mix - also, lemon poppy seed cake is one of my sissy's favorite), 2) using tin cans as cake molds & 3) practicing on my cake decorating.
Lemon Cake Mix - (follow instructions on the back)
3 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
Chopped Lemon Zest from one lemon
favorite jam fillings
Pearl Sprinkles
Butter or oil
bamboo skewer stick
Empty Tin Cans 
1 Can of Frosting
Cake Pipette Decor kit - you can get a cheap one from Ikea...I was fortunate enough that my amazing friend, Geneva, bought it for me on one of our shopping adventures <3
1) After making the cake mix accordingly add the lemon zest and poppy seed into the mix
2) Lightly butter/ oil & flour the inner surface of the tin can
3)Fill the tin cans a bit less than 3/4 of the way (I made the mistake and filled it 3/4 of the way and got huge muffin tops)
4) Bake for about 30 min at 350 degrees or until your skewer stick runs clean when poked
5) Let the cake cool (took 20 mins for the tin to cool down)
6) Level the cake - cut the tops so its even
7) Cut layers and add your favorite fillings (I used a homemade lavender syrup - recipe in a future blog)
8) Do a light frosting over the whole cake (its like your primmer when painting because it evens out your surface)
9) When pipping the rose on the cake - don't think! Just go with the flow....I promise you it will come out better
After all of this: I had 3 cakes sitting around for about two weeks...I need local food eatters <3

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Santa Monica

I know this blog is suppose to be about my crafts, recipes, and other consumer house factoids, but I'm going to take a brief second to talk about my little epiphany. It really doesn't fit in my other blog.
For the longest time I was convinced that the Westside was too cool for school; that somehow it wasn't some thing for me because I was too independent and so indie rock that the manicured structures were a faux pas. I guess it doesn't surprise many because I spent soo many years chasing a grunge valley boy.

MAJOR SIDE NOTE: {If you don't know my story this is how it goes: In the spring of junior year in college I met a boy. He was a bit weird and dirty and had dreadlocks...oh and Asian. We were chem lab partners and eventually we started dating. After college we stayed together, even though we lived an hour away. 2 1/2 years passed and I found myself moving to LA for a new job, but to mainly be with him. We broke up 2 weeks after my move and I've been trying to find myself ever since. One baby step at a time...I've lived 3 miles away from him for a little over a year and I'm finally ready for a change}
Anyway, this morning I decided to give this place another change and you know what?!?!?! I LOVE it! In the early morning as the Farmer's Market was opening up for the day, I found myself rejoicing in the simplicities of life. Granted a lot of faces were sullen and just not happy because it was early, I felt at home for the first time since my move to LA. On the empty streets of the promenade it was like a long conversation with the buildings and all its frailties as the morning fog rolled in from the shore.
I don't know where life will take me (I do know that I'm moving to the Westside next year), but there's such a comfort in that unknown. I KNOW that if I continue to do this blog I will find myself and find a voice. I guess my resolution is to always do what you are passionate about because money comes and goes, but the experiences in life make that daily grind all worth while. Also, learn to give things/ people the opportunity to wow even if you are initially turned off...everything deserves a second chance....maybe not 3, 4, or 5 chances, but at least a second one. :) 
Stay strong my beautiful friends! <3 

April Birchbox Review

After using 4 of the 6 products for the past few days, I think its time to write my thoughts. I haven't used the other two: dress tape (no use for it yet) and bright green nail polish (a bit too bright for finger nails are mint green at the moment - pop but not too much).

I'll go in the order of the products in the picture:

1) June Jacobs Perfect Pumpkin Enzyme Polish - When I first opened the tube, it smelled like pumpkin pie and all the yummy spices of Thanksgiving Dinner. This enzyme scrub is smooth with course cut beads. Overall it nourishes the skin and smells yummy, however, at $51 for 3.8 fl oz...its more of a luxury item than a practical one. 

2) Befine Food Skin Care Daily Moisturizer (apparently on the internet the product is discontinued - mildly peeved) - Anyway, it actually moisturizes and protects your skin with rosemary, pomegranate, and rice. Often times, moisturizers with sunscreen leaves my skin extra oily and makes it break out, but this really did the trick. LOVE it!

3) Befine Food Skin Care Exfoliating Cleanser - I absolutely love this scrub with brown sugar and honey, makes you feel like a dessert which can be good. Overall its a really good product and the price is just right at $15 for 4 oz.

4) Viva La Juicy  - As the owner of Couture Couture by JC. It was nice to smell a similar pallet, however, Viva La Juicy has a more mature smell. Something I should probably considered as I become a working professional (arghhh....must not conform! lol)

In conclusion: I love getting a box of goodies in the mail once a month. Its such a lovely treat. Getting actual and personal mail through the postal service is like getting presents once a month. :)


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kabocha Soup

I've been eating this soup my entire life and didn't even know that it was a Japanese pumpkin until a few months ago. One warning though, if you only cook for yourself this soup will last all week. I've been eating every night since Sunday. Lol. I guess the plus side is that I didn't have to cook for the rest of the week.

Kabocha Pumpkin
1lb Pork Short Spare Ribs (You can do chicken but I still had some meat left over)
4-5 TBSP Fish Sauce
Chopped Cilantro (Optional)
4-5 C Water

1) I don't like cutting the pumpkin, so I cheated. I used the Eat Cleaner to clean the outside and then wrapped the pumpkin with aluminum foil. Then baked in the oven at 350 Degrees for 45min or until the pumpkin was soft. While the pumpkin is still hot, remove the pit, stalk and cut it bite size pieces. Leave the skin on because it has a ton of nutritional value.

2) Meanwhile, in a pot boil the pork ribs at medium heat and remove the surface fat.

3)Add the pumpkin and fish sauce in the pot and leave to stew until the soup thickens (~40 min)

4)Since I'm using pork, I'll let the soup cool down and store in the fridge over night. In the morning, you'll see that more of the fat will clot and remove that before reheating and serving.

5) Add Cilantro, rice and you've got a meal

Note: Refrigerating the soup only applies to pork or other fatty meats. You don't have to worry about that with chicken as long as its skinless. Also you can cook the meat separately a day ahead so you can serve it fresh. I am just lazy after work and it goes better with my laissez faire motto.

Enjoy! <3

EDIT: Sorry about the hyperlink address for the Eat Cleaner, just fixed it! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eat Cleaner

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE these food cleaners and the fact that they are all natural and simple ingredients is an added bonus. I've been using these spray cleaners for a while now and even if you don't believe all of this hippie stuff, I promise you that you will notice the difference in fruits and vegetables. The fruit and vegetable wash cleaner helps to take off the filmy wax texture on fruits such as apples and grapes.

At first I was skeptical about this (no joke, when my friend was telling me about his product...I had MAJOR doubts...sorry Zeus), but now I love it and its really inexpensive considering the cost of organic fruits and vegetables. Its not an absolute alternative to local and fresh, but with the economy and the weird health scares, its an add reassurance that you can reduce some unnecessary digestion of unnatural chemicals. 

Also, check out the meat cleaner. Its not crazy science, it just changes the pH of the surface which can reduce the amount of bacteria microbials that can begin to cultivate on raw meat from the get go. Yes, cooking the meat will kill almost all bacteria and your stomach is strong to kill a few more, like I said before...better safe than sorry. :)

Try it out and tell me what you think? I would love to hear some feedback...any feedback... *sigh* 

Kale & Tomato Soup

Kale - I have a love hate relationship with this deep green legume. It is sooo insanely healthy for you, its something I've grown to love through the years. Honestly, you can only eat soo much before the taste becomes like chalk in your mouth. So with that, I devised a healthy soup to feed your body and tastebuds.

First the key to this recipe is fresh and clean homemade chicken broth. I can not express the importance and the deliciousness that is accompanied with fresh chicken broth to any dish. Yes, the canned stuff and the expensive one from Whole Foods is good, but none can COMPARE.

To make your own chicken broth, I usually take scraps of drumsticks and scapula bone (that bit alone proves that I'm a science nerd!) from breast meat (the bones that are left after you cut off the meat you want). This DOES NOT include chicken skin, if you put fat into the broth, you will get fat back. So with your scraps, stew with water in a pot and you'll see your broth forming slowly. Remember to remove the bubbles (dirty boiled off fat) from the top of the broth. 

You can usually keep the broth up to a week. Probably longer but mine never sticks around that long. Chicken broth is good to add to almost every dish cause it adds a richness of flavor without adding salt.

Kale Soup

Kale leaves - cut off the stems, you can always saute them with some other dish
3-4 Diced Tomatos
1 Chopped up carrot
3 Minced Pieces of Garlic
1/2 chopped onion
2 TSP cooking oil
3 C Chicken Broth
Pepper  (optional - just to taste)

1) Lightly Saute garlic and onions with cooking oil in a pot (Cooking them before brings flavor to dish)
2) Add the rest of the ingredients
3) Cook at medium - low heat until the carrots are soft

And there you go! A simple tasty Kale & Tomato Soup. I usually eat this with a slice of multigrain toast. Seems hippiesh, but as the saying goes 'when in rome...' :D

Thit Kho Xương

This is one of my FAVORITE Vietnamese dishes, however, I'm very hesitant to write a blog entry on Vietnamese Cuisine for fear that I don't serve my heritage enough justice. But I will try to share you my takes on some of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. My mom is from the south and my dad is from the middle. There are many differences in the style and overall cooking techniques between the different regions of Vietnam. I mainly know the southern style, so bear with me. 

Please note that I learned a lot about cooking through watching my cousin, Phoung, as I was growing up. She is only 6 years older but she took care of me, my sister and her little brother while we were growing up at our aunt's house in Trabuco Canyon. 

We didn't have the shiniest toys or the coolest clothes or even cable, but we managed and builded strong family bonds through those years and I couldn't imagine my life any different. Because of our parent's sacrifices, all four of us went on to college. Phoung is now a successful clinical pharmacist, married and has two hairy trolls. My cousin, Evan, is a teacher whom his students adore/ fear. LOL. Christina, my sister, is about to graduate this year with a Bachelors in Nursing. And I am a lost soul with a chemistry degree "pretending" to be a scientist.

Anyway, back to the recipe. I hope you try it and tell me what you think or what your version of this recipe is. :) Also, from my understanding, this is a very southern dish. 

1-2lb Pork Short Spare Ribs 
3-5 TBSP Fish Sauce
3 TBSP Agave Syrup (I use this in lieu of sugar because I feel agave has a deeper and roasted taste which transfers to the dish)
4-5 diced Garlic pieces
2 TBP cooking oil
1/2 C Water
Chopped cilantro (optional - I say that but honestly it is NOT a Vietnamese Dish without the cilantro)

*make sure your pan has a lid

1) Cut the pork into bite size pieces and mix with fish sauce and agave syrup in a mixing bowl for about 45 min. (You want to lightly marinate the meat...not saturate the pallet) 
2) In a pan lightly sauté the garlic with cooking oil until translucent
3) Add marinated meat at medium heat, so you can lightly toast the outside of the meat (> 3min)
4) Add water to pan and cover the pan with the lid
5) Reduce the heat a bit (not too low) and leave the meat to cook for 30-45 min (You want the water and marinate to soften the meat as well as the cartilage)
6) Once the meat is to your liking, take off the lid and bring the heat back up. The water will vaporize and caramelization will begin. (>10min)
7) Add cilantro and serve with rice and sliced veggies like cucumber and tomatoes.


Homemade Face Scrub and Mask

If you're like me, you have sensitive combination skin that breaks out at the slightest signs of stress. Needless to say, my face is hating me right now. LOL. Anyway, my college best friend, Han, did some research and found me two natural and safe home remedies. 

Face Scrub/ Exfoliant:
1 Part Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Part Baking Soda

Mix well and gently scrub through your face. The small beads of the baking soda will rid your face of dead skin while the olive oil will moisturize your skin. With lightly warmed water, gently wash the scrub off your face & PAT DRY. Do not wipe your face clean, cause it will counteract the purpose of the olive oil and just rip away your face and irritate the skin. REMEMBER to ALWAYS PAT DRY whenever you wash.

Face Mask:
1 Part Baking Soda
1 Part Honey

Mix well and generously apply to your face. Leave for 15 min and wash off. The baking soda will clamn your pores while the honey will nurture your skin.

Well, I hope this works for you!  <3

Birchbox: April

This is my first Birchbox...I'M IN LOVE!!!!!!!!!!! Birchbox, if you didn't know is a monthly cosmetic subscription. In each box are a few trials of cosmetic items. If you're like me and constantly looking for new products, it is a rather inexpensive way to exploring your options without having to hand over a lot of dough. ($10 for each month)

Actually, before I subscribed it was a battle between a Hulu subscription or a Birchbox. I decided on the latter because I already have Netflix. Also, there are tons of cosmetic subscriptions options

I'll be back soon with what I thought of each product, so stay in tuned! <3

How to Polish Brass Jewelry

So I think its been close to a year since I've written an entry for this blog. So here you go. This is the easiest thing to do and onl...