Carrot cake pops

These were baked as a request from one of my best friends, she said that she had never seen anyone make carrot cake pops. So I made it with my god sister, it was really fun to make. I think if anyone has a party or kids, they will love this cause kids get to wreck the cake and its a bite size piece of cake that you don’t have to feel super guilty about.

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butter up and flour the baking pan.
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mixing the cake to crumbly blob
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Carrot cake pops
I used a recipe from my previous post Carrot cake.
The great things about this recipe is it can be easily adapted to any type of cake.
The icing will have to be doubled in amount, although the powdered sugar could be cut down since you will have to use more of it in this recipe.
Once you have the ingredients for the carrot cake then all you need is the lollipop/cake pop sticks. I would suggest to cut the sticks in half.

Cake pop assembly
After you have baked the cake and let it cool. Then use a fork to mix the cake till its all crumbled.
Add the first portion of icing to the crumbled cake, this is done to help the cake adhere to each other.
Mix the icing and cake together, it will look crumbled blobs.
Use your hands to shape the cake into a ball, roughly the size of a ping pong ball and place them on a cookie sheet or container.
Place sticks in the middle of cake balls and then put them into the freezer for 15 mins or refrigerator for 30 mins for the cake to firm up and form.
Make the icing while you wait for the cake pops to harden. You want the icing to be more liquidy than the previous icing made, therefore adding less powdered sugar or heating the icing up before usage would allow that to happen.
Take out the cake pops from the fridge and dip them in the icing then place them back on the cookie sheet. Once done with icing put them back into the fridge to harden the icing.
Voila, you have cake pops!

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Puff pastry

This baking done was out of  hunger and procrastination (I am very good at that). I had store bought puff pastry in my freezer because I attempted to make napoleons (mille-feuille) once, that was an arduous task, and if I ever made it again I would use it. But instead of making napoleons I made an Asparagus and dill quiche and apple galette since the package came with two puff pastry sheets. When I unfolded the puff pastries I felt that it was not big enough to use, therefore I rolled it out a bit.
As I was baking I listened to Michael Bublé’s new album, To be loved,  to calm my brain down from all the studying. It’s a great album and I love his music.

Asparagus and dill quiche.
Adapted from not derby pie
In the original recipe, a rectangular tart pan is used but I have a circular one and I felt that it’s not much of a tart but more of a quiche since it has cheese, milk and eggs.
Also, I did not have buttermilk so I decided to make my own, which is the yellow/white mixture in the bowl.  That was not a good idea, I knew it too but I still had to try it, because after you bake it all those lumpy bits, which you see in one photo, melts into a big puddle of butter atop the quiche. I had to use coffee filters to soak up all that butter. Well I learned my lesson, buy buttermilk or use the milk you have already.
Another store bought product, as you can tell, is frozen asparagus. No need to boil it just defrost it and use it.
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The weird buttermilk mixture I attempted to make.
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the lumpy butter bits.
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After I soaked out all the butter.

1 bunch of asparagus (about 12 spears)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs
4 or 5 bunches of dill (more if desired), chopped
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Roll the dough into an 11-inch disk (for a 9-inch round pan) or a 16″ x 6″ rectangle (for a rectangular pan) and fit it carefully into the pan, leaving the overhang in place for now. Prick the dough with a fork, then stick in the fridge for half an hour or so to rest (this ensures that the dough won’t shrink when baked. The overhang helps with this, too; I cut it off after the tart was done.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to  400°F. Put crust on a flat baking sheet and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Leave the tart on the baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then drop in asparagus and cook just until tender, about 5 minutes. (Slater says longer, but I can’t bare to overcook a batch of perfect ‘gus.) Remove the asparagus and set aside.

Combine eggs and milk in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the tarragon to the cream mixture along with a pinch or two of salt and pepper.

Lay the asparagus in the tart crust. (Slater recommends you cut them into shorter lengths, but I think the full spears look elegant in the finished tart.) Pour the cream mixture over the asparagus, taking care to fill in the tart evenly. Transfer the tart, on its baking sheet, into the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the filling is golden and quivers only slightly when moved. Serve warm.

Apple galette.
adapted from Williams-Sonoma
I was going to try to make this out of memory from the apple pies I’ve made but I thought I better refer to a recipe just to make sure.
I did not want to save the puff pastry for another time, besides I had extra apples that I cut up from the French apple tart.
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2 lb. apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonagold,
peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

To make the filling, in a large bowl, stir together the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch. Set aside.

Roll the puff pastry to a bit to accommodate the amount of apples you will be putting in. About 12-inch round. Brush off the excess flour. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Arrange the apple filling in the center of the dough, mounding the fruit slightly and leaving a 2-inch border. Gently fold the edges of the dough over the apples, pleating loosely. Lightly sprinkle sugar over the apples.

Bake until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the galette cool completely, about 1 hour.

Enjoy!

French apple tart

A Happy belated Mother’s Day!! I hope everyone celebrated with their loved ones.
Now I did not forget my blog I have just been busy studying and studying for yucky tests and sadly I still have more. But today, and yesterday, I am taking a break. So on with the baking! This French apple tart is a dainty simple dessert that I saw Ina Garten make on tv and my oh my did it look delicious!

French Apple Tart
Adapted from Ina Garten
Don’t have a food processor, not to worry. I use a knife and cut them into tiny pieces then add them into the flour.
I find that the water you need to add in the pastry dough is never enough. Add more water till the dough comes together and if you add too much water, put a bit more flour to make it less sticky and watery.
If you have some oddly shaped sliced apples don’t worry about it, just place it in the same pattern and if there are tiny spaces left on the pastry, just make your own shape out of the apple slices. No one will notice because they will be too busy enjoy it!
When making this I suggest you sprinkle the sugar at least one inch away from the border of the pastry because the sugar and apple juices will melt and burn the edges of the pastry. Burnt sugar tastes kind of good but its no fun trying to pry it off the baking sheet.
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Apples, apples, apples…I think I cut too many but its okay, more for me to work with.

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Rolled out that dough.

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Apples laid out nicely in a type of fish scale pattern. Sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter.

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Out of the oven and into my tummy.

Pastry dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar 1

2 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup ice water

Apples

4 Granny Smith apples

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, small diced

1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam

2 tablespoons  water

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices.  Sprinkle with the full 1/4 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper or foil. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Oatmeal peanut butter cup cookies

Over the weekend my god sister came to stay over my house and we decided to bake oatmeal cookies but not just any old oatmeal cookie, we put in reese’s peanut butter cups! I love peanut butter and with chocolate, it’s magical! Actually, every time we bake I am the one who bakes and she waits patiently but this time she took pictures for me. Thanks!

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all the ingredients mixed together.

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Ready for the oven!

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baked and ready to eat!

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Oatmeal peanut butter cup cookies
The recipe was adapted from the oatmeal raisin cookies and I swapped out the raisins for the peanut butter cups. If you want you could add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries for some tartness to balance out the sweetness of the peanut butter and chocolate. I would have done that but sadly I did not have any.

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking spoon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, cut into quarters

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter, brown sugar, milk, egg and in a large bowl until combined.
Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into the butter mixture and mix together.
Stir in oats and peanut butter cups. Drop tablespoonfuls onto aluminum foil or wax paper covered cookie sheets.
Bake 12 to 15 mins. Remove from oven and let it cool

Carrot cake

This cake was another birthday cake for my dad since they were celebrating it with family friends. Therefore, I made carrot cake. How I love this cake, I mean how can you not love carrot cake, It has cinnamon, raisins, carrots, nuts and best of all cream cheese! I LOVE CHEESE!!! (even though I am not suppose to, darn lactose intolerance).

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Build up your arm muscles by grating that carrot. To the left of the picture there is a plastic glove, I use that so the orange color from the carrot doesn’t come off on my hands but I took them off for this picture.

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Substituting apple sauce for half the oil, with the mixture of sugar and eggs.

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Added the carrot into the sugar, egg & oil mixture.

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Added the flour and combined it into the mixture then added the raisins and nuts.

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Into the oven we go! drop the cake pan one or two times to even the batter out and get the bubbles out.

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Carrot cake
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
I tweaked this cake in a healthy way by substituting half the oil for apple sauce (you can also use yogurt). Thanks education for teaching me that. This was the first time I had used apple sauce in a cake and it was not bad, not bad at all. The difference between the regular cake and apple sauce cake is that the cake was quite moist, this might put off some people but in the end it still tastes great! It must be all that cream cheese, yum!
As for the carrots, the recipe says four but I think it depends on how large the carrots are. I have used two very large carrots before. If you happen to have more carrots you can put in about 1/2 a cup more into the cake or put it in a salads or tuna fish.
Don’t have mace then use a touch of all spice or nutmeg. Also, if you don’t have cake flour, its okay I did not have cake flour for a long time, you can use 1 3/4 cup of all purpose flour and 1/4 cup of corn starch.

4 large carrots

2 cups cake flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground mace

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups canola oil(with apple sauce, 1/2 cup & 2 tablespoon each)

1/2 cup raisins

1 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Cream cheese frosting
Adapted from Alton Brown

8 oz cream cheese, soft

2 oz unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two round cake pans or 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan.

To make the cake, peel and grate the carrots. You should have about 3 cups, set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs,  and oil and whisk thoroughly to combine. Stir in the carrots. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until almost completely incorporated. Add the raisins and 1 cups of nuts and fold to mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Watch the time closely at the end so the cake does not overbake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Place a cake rack on top of the pan, invert them together and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely.

Cream cheese frosting
Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until blended then add the vanilla. On a low speed add the powdered sugar in 3 batches and mix it till smooth for each addition.

Time to assemble the cake. Place a layer of cake on a cake stand or a large plate and frost each layer. Use the rest of the crushed nuts to decorate around the side of the cake. Serve and enjoy!

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my father’s birthday! I made cheesecake with a slight lemon flavor. This is what what I think a New York style cheesecake is suppose to taste like, thick slice and creamy consistency, yum! Don’t feel too guilty for eating it since I cut half the amount of sugar in the recipe. I had a mango and strawberries in my fridge, used those to make a pretty flower design.

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all the ingredients and tools you need. Vanilla extract is optional, I accidentally put it there, it’s for a sour cream topping in the original recipe.

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Once again if you are feeling stressed use that meat tenderizer to crush those graham crackers!

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The egg, cream cheese, sugar, lemon and flour. A bit lumpy buts it’s okay, keep going!

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Added the egg whites and folded it into the batter. Do not stir the egg whites or else all the work you did to make the egg whites peak will be for nothing. To fold the egg whites you should use a spatula and gently lift the batter from underneath to “fold” the batter over its self.

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When you take off the springform you are left with a lovely plain cheesecake. Mine did not brown on top but its okay.

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Sliced up the mango and strawberry and make this flower design. I thought about this design all day and had a little day dream about it too.

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Added sliced strawberries to the side of the cheesecake to make it more colorful.

Lemon Cheesecake
adapted from Mark Bittman: How to cook everything.
For this recipe you need a springform pan and put it in a water bath. What I learned is to wrap the pan in two layers of aluminum foil to prevent the water from seeping into the cake. Now you don’t have to do this but for my own sanity I had to do it cause who wants a damp crust.  Although, once you put the cake into the fridge to let it cool you will not notice it.  If you do take the aluminum foil route, the water level will stop just a little under the lowest edge of the aluminum foil.
If you do not have a large baking pan to put the springform pan into, don’t fret, use a aluminum foil pan. When using that aluminum foil pan I suggest that you pour the water in when you put the pan in the oven since the foil pan might be wobbly when moved to the oven.

1 double recipe Graham cracker crust (see below)4 eggs, separated
24 ounces (3 [8-ounce] packages) cream cheese, soften
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Use an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks until light; add the cheese, lemon zest and juice, and 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour.

Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks; use a rubber spatula or your hand to fold them into the yolk-cheese mixture gently but thoroughly. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and place the pan in a baking pan or aluminum foil pan large enough to hold it comfortably.

Add warm water to the baking pan, so that it comes to within an inch of the top of the springform pan. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake until the cake is just set and very lightly browned, about an hour.

Graham cracker crust
You can line your springform pan with parchment paper to make it easier to transfer the cake and not scratch the bottom of the pan.

6 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces crushed graham crackers, about one package ( 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°
Crush the graham crackers with a meat tenderizer or food processor.
Melt butter in a saucepan or microwave for 35 seconds.
Combine graham cracker crumbs with melted butter in a bowl.
Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes till browned and let it cool.

Baked pasta & Asparagus

What a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, flowers are blooming and the smell of fresh cut grass is in the air! This makes me want to listen to really upbeat pop music such as One Direction, yes that’s right I like their music!
asparagus
The asparagus dish came to me because I was hungry and digging through my fridge.  Took a short cut and used frozen asparagus, microwaved it for 3 minutes then crumbled feta cheese and drizzled on some Persian lime olive oil. (My friend Nicole introduced me to this olive oil. If you have never tried Persian lime olive oil, you are missing out, it tastes and smells delicious)

On to the main dish Baked pasta! I found this recipe in a foodnetwork magazine featuring Italian food. It’s quite simple and fast to make, also the ingredients can be swapped with almost anything. When I make this I put in all vegetables, one pound each of zucchini and frozen spinach. As for cheese I play around and put in whatever cheese I have on hand such as cheddar, monterey jack or an Italian blend of cheeses.

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All the ingredients and baking dish. The pasta was a gift from my cute cousin, she went to Italy and bought that for me.
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Cooking the zucchini and spinach.   Tossing the cooked pasta with vegetables, tomato sauce and half of each cheese.

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before baking

pasta
After baking. look at the browned cheesey deliciousness!

Baked Pasta
From foodnetwork March 2011 issue.

1 pound pasta (faralle, ziti, rigatoni, cavatapi, fusilli, penne or large shells)
4 cups tomato sauce (about one jar of prepared tomato sauce)
3 cups cooked ground meat and/or cooked chopped vegetables
3 cups shredded melting cheese  (mozzarella, provolone, fontina or asiago)
1 cup grating cheese (Parmesan, pecorino or ricotta salata)

Preheat the over to 450°
Cook the pasta till al dente (still has a bite/slightly uncooked) and cook the meat and/or vegetables.
Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce, meat and/or vegetables and half of each cheese.
Spread in an oiled 3 to 4 quart baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta.
Bake uncovered, until browned, about 20 minutes.
Let it cool for a bit and Enjoy!

Smoothie & Oatmeal raisin cookies

Yesterday I tried to make a super healthy smoothie with mango, banana, flaxseeds, kale, spinach, cranberry juice, yogurt and blueberry. Before I blended the ingredients it looked very colorful and pretty but oh my goodness afterwards…it did not look appealing. I have to say it didn’t taste that bad but after the first cup I couldn’t drink anymore, so that won’t be happening again anytime soon. Although my smoothie was better than the smoothie/liquified food a youtuber, named Alfie Deyes, made from a fry up, a traditional English breakfast. (click his name to see the video, eww but it’s funny!)

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From colorful to a really bad shade of blurry beige.

On to a successful recipe, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! Continuing on the oatmeal trend, from my previous recipe, these cookies smell & taste delicious (it’s that darn cinnamon). Also, it makes you feel a little less guilty for eating a cookie since its made with oatmeal. The reason I made the cookies was because my father requested me to make them for meeting he was going to have today and being a wonderful daughter I made them.

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This is the butter, brown sugar, milk, egg and vanilla mixture. If you did not leave the butter out to soften, pop it into the microwave for about 30 seconds and out comes soften/melted butter. The mixture looks weird and lumpy but it’s okay, keep going!

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Mixing the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into the butter mixture.
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After the butter and flour mixture has been combined it will be smooth and velvety.
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Stirred in the oatmeal and raisins until you see everything coated with the butter/flour mixture.
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Done and plated! yum!

Oatmeal raisin cookies
adapted from sun maid raisin oatmeal cookie.
I got this recipe from the back of a sun-maid raisin package. Though I changed the amount of sugar and mixing pattern cause I realized after baking a lot that American recipes tend to add a boatload of sugar, which I don’t want extra if I don’t need it. As for the mixing I got lazy, skipped a step and it turns out perfectly fine.

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter, brown sugar, milk, egg and vanilla in a large bowl until combined.
Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into the butter mixture and mix together.
Stir in oats and raisins. Drop tablespoonfuls onto aluminum foil or wax paper covered cookie sheets.
Bake 12 to 15 mins. Remove from oven and let it cool.

Granola

I thought I would share this granola recipe as a healthy way to “spring” into the new season (you see what I did there). A very simple recipe that I learned a long time ago and the best thing about it is that it makes your home smell delicious! While you are baking, turn on some music and do  a little dance. Today I was listening to Justin Timberlake’s new album “20/20 experience”, it’s pretty good and usually I don’t listen to his music.

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I buy nuts in the bulk, so I put them in a plastic bag and use a meat tenderizer to crush the nuts. This is especially good if you are feeling stressed, it’s a great stress reliever, you get to hit the nuts and have a little scream while doing that and if someone asks why, you can tell them that you are making granola.

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The ingredients and tools you will need for granola. As you can see my flaxseeds are not grounded there since it’s better to ground it when needed to keep all the flaxseeds fresh and your body utilizes the nutrients of omega 3 fatty acids in the seeds better when grounded. I used a coffee bean grinder to ground my flaxseeds, works perfectly.
I love cinnamon, this is what makes your home smell great, it has shown to give great health benefits. I would also put in wheat germ but I ran out, it’s great to add this since it provides protein and fiber.

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Mix the oil and honey till it looks like this, a great golden mixture.

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What the granola looks like when it’s all mixed together. You will see that everything has a shiny coat on it from the oil/honey mixture.

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The granola spread out evenly, all ready to go into the oven. see you in 20 to 40 minutes!

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Tada! granola all done and ready to eat with yogurt and raisins!

Granola

6 cups of oatmeal

1 cup of honey

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups crushed walnut, cashew & almond

1/2 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup sunflower seed,

1/2 table spoon cinnamon

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees F

Mix the honey and oil first in a large bowl until it’s an even mixture.

Then mix the honey/oil with the rest of the ingredients until all ingredients appear shiny.

Spread the mixed ingredients thinly on a baking sheet (line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier clean up and transferring later).

Bake for a total of 40 minutes, at 20 minutes stir the mixture and re-spread it.

If you put the mixture on two baking sheets on different layers in the oven, swap the position of the baking sheets when you do the mixing at the 20th minute.

After you take out the granola, let it cool and then transfer the granola into a container.

You can enjoy your homemade granola with yogurt or eat it as is for a snack or mix it with some raisins or dried cranberries as trail mix.