I had difficulty deciding what to bake this year. Since I’m at home due to lock-down, I’ve made three dishes that I have never tried before, but always wanted to taste. Two French dishes and one Dutch delight!
A while back, a baking magazine caught my attention with its lovely tangerine yogurt cake on the cover. Dorie Greenspan was thrilled to share her sweet and savory recipes.
I decided to go with something savory and settled on a mushroom quiche on page 54. I didn’t have a tart pan, so I settled for a pie pan. The aroma of the filling the air as it was baking in the oven. I was excited by the end result.
OH MY GOODNESS..
This quiche personally made me cry with happiness the moment I took a bite! No exaggeration here. This flaky crust was one of the best I’ve ever had. The combination of flavors really sat well with my palette.
I surprised myself. I gorged. I ate half the quiche that night!
My boyfriend said it was good, and my roommate said it was very rich.
Glazed Fruit Tart
Next up is dessert! A few years ago, I found this little book for sale at a used books store and was intrigued by the prospect of 500 types of pies and its variations.
I settled on a glazed fruit tart recipe. The basic sweet crust tasted like a soft cookie. Next time, I will stretch the crust over the pie pan. It shrunk as I baked it. 🙂 I included a citrus scent to the vanilla extract mixture to my pastry cream, arranged my sliced fruit, and topped it off with a warm apricot glaze.
All the bright colors truly made my day! What I love about this recipe was that it wasn’t too saccharine. The whipped pastry was lightly sweetened and the combination of the natural sugars from the layers of real fruit was refreshing. Loved the fusion of flavors!
Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Cookies
As I was digging further in my ingredients bag, I found some powdered sugar, and decided to use it to make another treat. Shiran Dickman, blogger at Pretty. Simple. Sweet., shared a recipe for melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies. My cute cookies looked like a village of little igloos with snow sprinkled outside their homes.
Overall Feelings on This Year’s Picnic
This year’s blogger’s bake-off was truly special. The stress from this current events took such a toll on many people around the world. Many bloggers turned to the joy of baking for the first time as they were confined to their homes. Comfort food has a way of reminding us of our connection to family and friends. I know I feel closer to the authors who created these recipes because they brought me happiness to share with everyone I know. Hope you enjoyed my little kitchen adventure! 🙂
“Orange Creamsicle Poke Cake is a wonderful addition to all your summer parties! A lovely vanilla cake that is bursting with orange flavor and topped with a fluffy orange and vanilla frosting that no one will be able to resist!”
Trish, Mom on Time Out
I finally caught up! So I will end this year’s A-to-Z challenge with another yummy delight involving some orange zest: Orange Creamsicle Cake! Trish created and featured this recipe on her blog “Mom on Time Out“.
“Creamsicles have always been one of my favorite summer time treats. That combination of orange and vanilla is just so magical! Today I’ve recreated that magical combination in cake form. “
Yes, I know exactly what Trish means when she says this! I remembered when I first bit into an orange ice cream dream bar one hot summer day. It was a great taste combo. I haven’t made this cake yet, but I do enjoy baking with citrus. Oranges are one of my favorite fruits. I might try to bake it for next year’s blogger’s bake-off. It seems that I will collect recipes along the way!
Orange Creamsicle Cake Recipe
COURSE: Dessert CUISINE: American PREP TIME: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 28 minutes TOTAL TIME: 38 minutes SERVINGS: 24
INGREDIENTS Cake – 15.25 oz boxed vanilla cake mix – 3 eggs – 1 cup Almond Breeze Vanilla almond milk – 1 tbsp orange zest – 3.4 oz orange JELLO – 1.25 cup boiling water – 1.3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Frosting – 15 oz can of mandarin oranges (do not drain) – 3.5 oz package vanilla instant pudding mix – 8 oz Cool Whip
INSTRUCTIONS Vanilla Cake – Prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting vanilla almond milk for the water and adding the orange zest. (Your exact measurements may vary slightly depending on the brand of cake mix you use.) – Bake using package directions. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for approximately 10 minutes. – Use a skewer to poke holes in the top of the cake. – Place orange JELLO mix in a heat proof bowl and slowly add boiling water. Whisk until the JELLO has completely dissolved. – Stir in fresh orange juice. – Carefully and slowly pour JELLO mixture over the top of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Mandarin Orange Frosting – Beat mandarins and pudding mix together until combined. – Gently fold in the Cool Whip or whipped cream until incorporated. – Spread on cooled cake. – Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
So I just finished decorating my cake after a busy day teaching a youth group how to make sushi! I decided to go with a fruity creation after munching on some fruit the other day. I decided to improvise this Betty Crocker Mango Layer recipe by pairing it with strawberries. I created the cake last night and stuck it in the freezer so that the texture would hold as I applied the frosting. I sliced the strawberries into thin slices so that I can place them in between the layers. I sliced the mangoes into small cubes to decorate the top. Showered it with sprinkles and more frosting and….
Voila! Overall, it was a labor of love! Hope you enjoyed my colorful creation! ❤
Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been present for the past few weeks. February was just one of those busy months where I wondered exactly how I got involved with so much. “Eclectic Days of My Life” is a chronicle of my recent tales which I broke into two parts! I tend to have phases in my life where I unplug from a few technological devices, live life to the fullest, and then write about my tales afterwards. Here’s a “table of contents” for my recent adventures! 😀
Part 1 1. Lunar New Year (2/1-2/6) 2. “Made For More” Retreat (2/7) 3. Infinity Expo (2/9) 4. Hosting a Sushi Making Party (2/10)
Part 2 5. Cybersecurity Job Fair (2/13) 6. Valentine’s Day (2/14) 7. PopCon2019 (2/16) 8. Friend’s Anniversary Party (2/16)
Lunar New Year
It’s been a long while since I’ve seen my family. I was really excited to see them again and spend quality time. On the bus ride, I decided to write in my journal for five hours straight. I wanted to see what the stream of consciousness would produce and where my mind and imagination would take me as I stared out at the fields of grass rows of skyscrapers. I explored my past, politics, my philosophical coursework, animal rights, personality types, international affairs, gift giving. 😊 Daydreaming at my best I suppose. I like that travelling in buses give me the chance to do that.
It was a warm family welcome. Mom had made a delicious bowl of Bun Bo Hue (vermicelli soup with fried tofu and beef) for dinner and I cracked opened a coconut and enjoyed the cool refreshing juice. After dinner we began making banh chung together as a family. I fold the banana leaves to create a box of sorts and put in in a wooden mold to create a square structure. I begin putting the colored rice, mung bean or peanuts, and marinated pork. I wrap it up in foil and pat it down to fill the mold. We got the steamer ready and waited for the water to boil.
As we waited, my brother introduced us to fun card game called The Mind that was developed by a German game maker, Wolfgang Warsch. Guessing what cards my siblings may have by reading body language prove quite difficult. We made it to level six out of twelve! We called it a night after three rounds. I wore this knitted puppet who brought some laughs in this intense game.
The next evening we went out to Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie, TX. Celebrations and entertainment occur here for six days. Parking was packed. It took my brother and I 30 minutes to find parking at night, so it’s best to come early! The size of the crowd was dense. In the morning, there’s usually dances and shows of firecrackers.
Like Christmas, there’s plenty of light displays outside the plaza. Food vendors have set up stands or parked their trucks outside. It’s a good time for their businesses! There’s was a long line where the average wait time is 30 minutes.The funnel cake and kabobs were delicious.
Indoors, there were lion/dragon dances parading in the lobbies to the beat of the drummers banging away on drums half their size. People tip the teenagers who wear the dragon costumes who do tricks. Singers captivate the audience.
We walked inside the plaza exploring. I checked out various things that were out on display: dresses, K-pop posters, toys, flowers, food. Various institutions set up tables as well to advertise themselves: police/fire department, various non-profit groups, politicians.
After a few hours, we drove over to another plaza called Ben Thanh a few minutes down the street. Stores are decorated with several flowers. The singers sing traditional music that appeals to many of the masses with their lyrics. Cashiers at the grocery store give you raffle tickets towards a drawing for a brand new car each day you shop there. You can also buy each ticket for one dollar. Mom collected 8 tickets for me to place inside a large plastic container on stage. A woman told the audience that roughly 42,000 tickets were sold.
Two emcees periodically pulled tickets out of the container to award gift certificates to restaurants throughout the night. While listening to the beautiful music, I chatted to a man next to me while waiting for the results. He talked about how he felt when Vietnam was taken over by the Communist regime. A few tears sprung from his eyes when his son expressed interest in visiting Vietnam to learn more about his heritage. He said that he would never go back, but out of his love for his son, he decided to buy plane tickets for both of them. I learned about his experiences of raising children in America, his academic accomplishments in engineering, his views on music and culture. When the emcee finally called out the winner of the car, my heart almost stopped when he called out Sa Lee. It was another woman’s number. Now I know how the people in Willa Wonka felt with the golden tickets! 🙂 The older gentlemen wished me good luck in my endeavors as we bid each other good night.
The next morning, my family got ready to attend mass service at the church. My mother and I ironed our ao dai dresses as we got ready. After we arrived, there was a full house in the church as we listened to the priest talk about loving others. The main hall was beautifully decorated with flowers, red envelopes, blossoming branches.
After the service, we headed to the auditorium where we ate our meals as we listened to the entertainment and kids played at the carnival games. I reconnected with former Sunday school teachers and friends who I haven’t seen in years.
Monday morning, one of my brothers took me to a Korean plaza that has developed in Carrollton after I finished weeding the garden. It was such a beautiful day outside. There was a wonderful bakery called “85 degrees Celsius”. Everything smelled wonderful. I got an egg tart and a cheesecake pastry though I was tempted to get some pretty slices of cake. I know that my eyes can get bigger than my stomach, so I refrained.
We walked over to the bookstore next door. I loved the book collection, stationery, cards, pins, toys, pens. I spent some time admiring the book covers which immediately caught my attention. We chatted about his accomplishments at the library that he works at. I felt proud of the fact that he turned the library into a cool hangout spot for the teenagers he mentors. The city awarded him for his service.
My brother and I parted ways as he left me to explore the Japanese dollar shop. He was going to meet up with a friend. I did take some time exploring my surroundings and the objects that were on sale. It looked pristine and organized. Later that evening, I got a haircut at my aunt’s salon and reconnected with her. I loved my new hair style!
Next morning, mom woke me up to begin making another treat: banh bao (steamed buns). I began kneading the flour for half an hour reflecting on the past few days. Mom was sauteing the seasoned meat and boiling the eggs. When we were done prepping everything, I took a rolling pin, dusted it with flour, and flattened a piece of dough so that we could put the meat and eggs in there. We sealed the bun up with a twist so that it could look like a flower bud and place it on some wax paper so that it won’t stick to the metal steamer. I always learn so much from my mom as I’m cooking and baking alongside from her. She has such a knack for it, I once suggested the idea of opening a restaurant, but she didn’t want to deal with the level of stress with that pursuit.
Later that afternoon, after we were done steaming the buns. We decided to make some food deliveries to friends. First stop was my sister. When she moved out to her own place, she has new guests try out her yoga wheel which has significantly helped her back problems from a car accident. I got to see her artwork and doodles and felt proud of her recent accomplishments.
Later that evening, my other brother gave me a tour of the new library they built in my hometown after the city closed down the old branches. The books gave me a sense of comfort as I entered unfamiliar settings. I began browsing the shelves and examined the new amenities like a 3-D printer.
When we arrived back home, the President’s 2nd State of the Union Address was on TV. My family was worn out from the days activities, and called it a night. I tuned in and decided to listened. I felt like he was exaggerating the issues and the statistics that he uses are taken out of context that could affect the audience’s understanding of the big picture.
When I see women shaking their heads in the audience about health issues, I thought about articles I read in Ms.Magazine which offered perspectives as to why they might be feeling dismayed. In my regards to immigration, I thought about when he talked about how it is cruel to be tolerant of illegal immigration. I thought about his comments about the economy, foreign policy, laws on incarceration, antisemitism, nuclear energy.
2. Made for More
Where do we come from and where are we going? These questions are DECISIVE for understanding what it means to be human and how to orient our lives and our actions toward authentic fulfillment. Join Christopher West and Mike Mangione as they creatively weave together dynamic presentations with live music, movie clips, popular YouTube videos, and sacred art for an evening of beauty and reflection on the meaning of life, love, and human destiny. You will come away with a faith-filled vision of hope that will instill in you the sheer wonder and joy of being alive…
My boyfriend’s mother invited me to retreat called “Made for More: Visions of the Promised Land” held in Corpus Christi, TX. Christopher West presents the dense material of John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” in a language that appeals to the average person. Matt Mangione is a musician and song writer who weaves theological truths into poetic narrative. It interested me because I wanted to develop a more positive vision for my future in spite of the news that I watch and read often.
It was a two hour car drive to Corpus Christi. My boyfriend uploads a podcast from Conlangery about “converbs“. I was fascinated by the talk about the construction of clauses. Afterward, I uploaded a podcast called “Cisco Systems & Urban Decay: Sandy Lerner“ from Castbox. Interviewer Guy Raz asked some intriguing questions, and we were both hooked by the fascinating story behind the origins of routing technology company and the makeup company. It’s inspiring for me to hear the story about a female programmer navigating the tech industry.
Before we knew it, we arrived at the church where it was already packed. We sat in the far back row where there was room for exactly two people. I listened to Christopher as he mentioned the concept of your worth in Toy Story as the toys are being tossed into the trash. He showed a video clip from Les Miserables. The point of redemption where Father Carl forgives Jean Valjean for stealing the chalices from the building. My boyfriend is covering my ears for all the spoilers the speaker mentioned. I haven’t watched it, but someday I will since it’s a classic. There was another scene he shared from the TV show Cheers, where a girl is asking her father for his blessing as she wants to get married. She wants her father to truly “see” her as she really is.
He mentioned some things about the architecture of church buildings and how it’s arranged to focus on Jesus Christ. I thought of the mathematics in involved in making stained glass windows as I am captivated by the designs. He talked about the symbolism behind the feminine mystique of the flowers in the church which left me in a dazed state. I just thought of flowers as beautiful decorations to help bring peace to the members with its beauty, nothing more. He segwayed into a discussion about gender roles. The bride of the church. Specific characteristics of why only men are priests and women are nuns. I think about the differences between sex and gender, and choices
3. Infinity Expo
I found this event while scrolling through Eventbrite. Various topics in the description caught my attention.
Spend a day at The Infinity Expo where a venue will be transformed into a bustling town of fashion, rhythm, glamour, art, culture and a marketplace featuring some of the latest and exciting brands from vendors across the country. Presented at The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tx, a lavish and beautiful haven will emerge taking inspiration from a bygone era and into the 21st century.
Fashion Gallery Experience a unique fashion presentation where mannequins and display windows come to life.
The Skin Deep Beauty Forum It’s been said that beauty is only skin deep. Is it? Venture into the depth of beauty with the Skin Deep Beauty Forum where fashion, beauty and wellness experts explore the definition of beauty, self-care, body image, wellness and how it applies to our everyday lives. With an overarching message centered on the importance in maintaining a healthy relationship with your own beauty, The Skin Deep Beauty Forum is designed to inspire, uplift and encourage you to discover and rediscover your own beauty.
The entrance to the convention center is quite stunning with its bold architecture. I enjoy the glass structures in the lobby that are like interlocking mini pyramids.
I enjoyed slowly reading the messages made with an assortment of metal signs.
I believe I came too early because I saw the models were still applying makeup behind the stage, so I walked around the booths and chatted to the vendors. I mainly chatted to a woman who is an HR professional who was promoting her book, “Do You Want the Job or Not?” She shared some tips on pursuing a new career.
4. Sushi Party
Last year, a friend became my study buddy and helped me get through the challenges of one of our IT classes dealing with advanced database design. Forever grateful for her help, I decided to host a sushi party to teach her and her family how to make their own sushi. I was pretty excited as I sifted through a huge box filled with supplies in her kitchen.
I set up bamboo mats on the dining table and asked her family members to help me prepare the food to go inside the sushi. Many hands make the work light. The rice was warming on the stove, cucumbers and avocados were being finely chopped, cream cheese were cut into cylindrical blocks, crab meat was being pulled apart. It was so much fun seeing them have fun roll their own sushi rolls for the first time. The kids enjoyed it. The mothers put it on the Facebook storyline which went viral. Now, it looks like I’m booked for another sushi party gig next month for a youth group!
Final testing season is over for me! Whew! This semester was quite a doozy, and those test makers sure know how to give many curve balls. Those mental gymnastics sure has made my mind more agile. Winter break is opening up for me, and I might be able to do more blog posts now! Yay!
Jenna, The Sunshine Artist, has invited me over for a Christmas chat by the crackling fireside! So now, I’m going to relax here with a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows as I dive into and share with you all my cherished memories in regards to Christmas. If you seen my post on 3.2.1-Celebrations, you’d know that I love to celebrate, and there is more than one favorite memory! What are yours?
What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
Back when I wasn’t studying for the GMAT, I would go through all of Netflix’s Hallmark Christmas romance movies and eat some chocolate: A Christmas Prince, A Christmas Kiss, Christmas Lodge, Christmas in the Smokies, Christmas Inheritance… Maybe, I can sneak one in now, they feel so good! ❤ My favorite though would probably be Home Alone. 🙂
What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?
Every Christmas has always been different for me! So I’m not sure I have a specific tradition. I roll a bunch of traditions into one event. Does that count? 😉 I enjoy attending Christmas mass with my family and learn the true meaning of Christmas after watching a creative theatrical nativity play hosted by the teachers and children. I also really enjoy creating hand made Christmas cards and help bake sugar cookies with some friends to deliver to the kids at a local orphanage. I really enjoy baking every Christmas! I also buy one toy for the Christmas Angel programs.
What was your most memorable Christmas and why?
So you might think I’m a bit insane, but this is the first memory that comes to mind at the word memorable! So, all of the second grade teachers at my school had worked with the parents to create a fun activity. Each student was going to bring a yard of Christmas themed fabric of his/her choice. The teachers and the parents who knew how to sew were going to create several “noodles” with each piece of fabric, stuff it with polyester, and bring it back.
The day before all of us headed out for winter break, all the students in our grade were going to work on this craft activity. Each student received 3 noodles made from fabric that were brought by other students. I just thought it was neat that I could have a piece from another student’s fabric. I just felt a sense of unity as we worked on this project together.
I was feeling under the weather, but I was so excited to work on this crafty activity. I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. The room was in a pure creative state for 3 hours as all the students in the throughout the hall braided and decorated these wreaths creating all sorts of unique creations.
I was feeling tired near the end of the day. I started to relieve the itch that traveled up and down my arms. As I scratched it, I noticed that there were red bumps. I touched my forehead and realized how hot it was. I was coming down with a fever. By the time I was finished with my wreath, I realized that I had the chicken pox!
I guessed I missed my vaccination. (Nowadays, I try to stay updated on my vaccines.) I was so worried that I passed on my chicken pox to the other students, so I warned all of them to stay many yards away from me. When we were all done and ready to go home, my classmates waved and wished me a Merry Christmas as they safely kept their distance.
My mother disinfected and washed my wreath. Even though I was sick, I was glad to have made this wreath with good holiday cheer!
Cinnamon raisin buns are lightly sweet, soft, and better than cinnamon toast. They disappear quickly but this cinnamon raisin buns recipe is so easy to make.
Recipe type: Bread and Pizza
Serves: 1 dozen buns
For the bread dough:
⅔ cup heavy cream (at room temperature)
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon milk (at room temperature)
1 large egg (at room temperature)
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup cake flour
3½ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1½ teaspoons salt
To finish the buns:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½-2/3 cup raisins
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water to form an egg wash
simple syrup: 1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
Start by making the bread dough. In the bowl of a mixer, add the heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cake flour, bread flour, yeast, and salt (in that order). Using the dough hook attachment, turn on the mixer to “stir.” Let it go for 15 minutes, occasionally stopping the mixer to push the dough together.
After 15 minutes, the dough is ready for proofing. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for 1 hour. The dough will grow to 1.5X its original size.
After the bread dough has proofed for an hour, put the dough back in the mixer and stir for another 5 minutes to get rid of air bubbles. Dump the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 equal pieces.
Roll out each piece into a rough 8×4 inch rectangle. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and dot with a few raisins. Roll into a cigar, and cut the cigar in half lengthwise, leaving one end attached (it’ll look like a pair of pants). Twist the two pieces together, and then roll the whole thing into a snail shape, tucking the ends underneath the bun. Lay on a baking sheet, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the risen buns with egg wash and bake for 13-15 minutes. Right after they’re baked, brush with simple syrup.
I gathered all of the ingredients I needed for the bread dough. I think my egg beater wasn’t powerful enough to mix my ingredients, so I kneaded and folded the dough by hand for 20 minutes. I then left the dough to rise in a warm place by the oven for an hour and a half. Afterward, I kneaded the dough some more and separated it into 12 pieces.
I took a rolling pin and began flattening each piece. I sprinkled some sugar and cinnamon. Then I sprinkled the raisins.
I preheated the oven 350 degrees. I rolled it into a cigar shape, and cut it in half to look like a pair of pants. I braided the two pieces, and then I rolled it into a snail shape tucking the ends at the bottom. After letting all of the buns rise for another hour, I brushed the buns with the egg wash.
I didn’t have a baking pan, but inserted it into some foil cupcake holders. I do think that the baking pan will give it more room to expand. I popped it into the oven, but I ended up baking it roughly 30 minutes instead of the 13-15 minutes on the recipe. I tasted a piece after 15 minutes, and it was still doughy even though the outside looked ready. It could be due to various factors. Maybe it was the kind of dough I used or the kind of pan that I put them on.
This is how it looks after 20 minutes in the oven. The egg wash does a wonderful job with the buns!
I brushed some light sugar syrup, and it’s ready!
I gave some to my roommates who really enjoyed them, and said they were delicious. One of them added some extra frosting. She’s a sweet tooth! I delivered the rest of the fresh buns to my coworkers down the street. They were really excited to see them and even more excited to hear they were made from scratch. All in all, it was a pretty good experiment if I say so myself!