January 24, 2020

All the Orange Flavored Things

I've been baking frequently in the past few weeks, mostly goodies to give as gifts. When I was faced with the birthday of a notoriously picky eater, I panicked thinking maybe I couldn't find something to bake. But then I was reminded that she loves all the orange flavored things and I knew exactly what to bake.
One of my favorite recipes from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book is their Iced Orange Cookies. But since I wasn't sure if the person would enjoy whole wheat flour, I went in search of an all-purpose flour recipe and gladly found this recipe from The Ambitious Kitchen

These cookies are just like the King Arthur ones, just less gritty from using all-purpose flour. They're deliciously soft, tangy and not too sweet. And the cookies were well-received by the recipient! 
The Recipe: Italian Iced Orange Cookies from Ambitious Kitchen. I chose to swap out the cream cheese icing she used and used the icing from the original KAF recipe

January 17, 2020

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

I love a good breakfast taco/burrito in the morning---it's actually my go-to almost every morning. When I found out the bf usually doesn't have time for breakfast in the morning, I wanted to make him something he could easily grab and take on the go, if needed. Freezer Breakfast Burritos it is! 
I used Molly Yeh's recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Freezer Burritos as a guideline for making the bf burritos (and since he doesn't like sweet potatoes or black beans, I knew I would have to find other ingredients for his burritos). The beauty of these is that they're easily customizable.

These were super simple to make and a better way to have control over your ingredients rather than purchasing a grocery store burrito (but nothing wrong with that if that's your thing). All you need to do is cook the innards, wrap into the tortilla and then freeze. Then reheat for 2.5-3 minutes when you're ready to consume them, with some salsa or hot sauce handy to fully enjoy the meal.
Freezer Chorizo and Potato Breakfast Burritos adapted from My Name is Yeh
1 russet potato, chopped and cubed
1 tbs olive oil
1lb Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
4 eggs
your favorite jarred salsa
large tortillas
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chopped potatoes on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Baked for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook chorizo until browned and crumbled. Add in bell pepper and onion and cook until softened. Then add in eggs and cook until scrambled. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a large bowl, add in chorizo mixture and cooked potatoes and toss. Take tortilla and fill each with 3/4 cup of the filling and top with salsa, then fold to seal. Then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
4. To reheat, remove plastic wrap and wrap in paper towel and microwave for 2.5-3 minutes.
5. Enjoy with a side of more salsa.

December 31, 2019

Best of 2019

2019 came and went in the blink of an eye but it was a year filled with my chocolate chip cookie madness in the kitchen, my first overseas vacation (without my instrument), the shingles and lots of restaurant adventures around kc (with my parents in tow for a few of them on their first visit to kc). Here are some highlights from twenty-nineteen: 

Best Meal: Hands down, the best meal eaten was the steak frites at L'Entrecôte in Bordeaux, France.

Best Bite: The ham and cheese croissant I ate at Hofmann Pastelería in Barcelona. Buttery deliciousness. 
Best New Baked Recipe: While I was on chocolate chip cookie overload for most of the year, the classic birthday cake I made last February has become my new favorite cake recipe.
Best New Kitchen "Gadget": I didn't purchase any real gadgets this year but a very happy addition to my kitchen is my first grown-up kitchen table that was purchased while antiquing in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. It's aided in more dinner parties and game nights in my apartment.
Best Cooking Adventure: While I've enjoyed cooking my way through Alison Roman's recipes on NY Times Cooking, I was completely surprised by the paella I threw together quickly last month. It was relatively easy to make and tasted so delicious.
Best New Eatery: Poke is the new craze in KC (the city is a few years behind the rest of the country) and I totally enjoyed the sushi burritos at Pokéloha. Flavorful, the vessel holds together and tasty!
Best Cupcake: I absolutely loved the Chocolate Guiness Cupcake I gobbled up from Dolce Bakery in Prairie Village, Kansas.

2019 By the Numbers:
40 blog posts
11 different chocolate chip cookie recipes baked
3 first-place bar trivia wins (very proud of this)
3 cupcakes eaten
2 cities visited overseas

December 29, 2019

The Eco-Friendly DIY Gift

As it has been tradition for me for the past 8 years, I've been crafting a DIY project as Christmas gifts for friends and family. This year I wanted to gift something that was useful but also good for the planet. I've recently been inspired by my friend Fabrice who is trying to live more waste-free so I've been using reusable produce bags, reusable food storage bags and beeswax wraps.
Since I've been enjoying using beeswax wraps as an alternative to plastic wrap, I thought it would be fun to make my own and use fun fabric too. I scoured pinterest for as many tutorials on how to make them. However, I was sorely disappointed when I purchased cute, organic fabric from Spoonflower (at the recommendation of one tutorial) and didn't realize it was jersey knit and not thin, quilters cotton, which is easier to use for these wraps. They'll still work but require way more supplies to cover the fabric well (the confusion came when she recommended organic cotton but didn't realize organic knit cotton on Spoonflower would be too thick--fear not, I'm repurposing that fabric into fabric napkins).
So after much trial and error (I tested three different methods), I *think* I've found the easier method to make these beeswax food wraps. This has been a more labor intensive project (and is quite messy if you're making these in bulk, like I did) but I'm happy to spread eco-friendly products to friends.
DIY Beeswax Food Wraps adapted from Better Homes & Garden and Seaside Steps
1-2 yards of quilters cotton (organic, if you can find it; wash before proceeding with crafting)
Organic beeswax pellets (makes fabric water resistant)
Pine resin (creates tackiness for the wraps)
Jojoba oil (also available at Trader Joe's; used to make fabric more pliable)
Pinking Shears (to prevent fraying of fabric)
Parchment Paper
Salt shaker and fill with pine resin (got mine from the dollar store; this allows an even distribution onto the fabric)
Iron/ironing board
Old hanger
1. Cut fabric into an assortment of sizes. Small wraps: 7x8; Medium: 10x11; Large: 13x14 inches
2. Place a piece of parchment paper on your ironing board and place fabric on top. Then sprinkle the pine resin and beeswax pellets evenly over the fabric and add a drops of the jojoba oil all over the surface (this site gives measurements of how much beeswax/resin/jojoba oil is needed for each size of fabric). (Materials only need to be applied to one side of the fabric since the mixture will saturate both sides when ironed).
3. Place another piece of parchment paper over the covered fabric and then iron the parchment paper over medium-low heat until the wax is melted and distributed over the fabric. (If the resin is still clumpy, keep ironing the fabric until it is melted).
4. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and carefully lift the fabric off the bottom layer of parchment paper. Drape the fabric over an old hanger and let cool. (The fabric will feel tacky but will mellow out after a few washes).
5. Repeat until desired amount of wraps are made (I made about 35+ wraps, which is overkill but I made a set of 3 sizes of wraps for friends--hence this being quite labor intensive. I'm sure it isn't so bad if made in small batches).
6. Once cooled, fold to store. Wrap food or cover bowls with the wraps by warming them up with your hands, which allows them to seal.
7. Wash in cold water to prevent melting and also with mild soap. They'll last up to a year.
8. Enjoy!

***There's a method that melts the ingredients in a jar over the stove, which seemed great but is messy and uses up the supplies pretty quickly. ***

December 23, 2019

Swirly Cookies + Holiday Baking

The past week has been filled with lots of flour, sugar, butter and eggs, in a frenzy to make little baked goody gifts. It happened completely by coincidence that two of the cookies were of a swirly nature.

Recipe No. 1: Cinnamon Swirl Cookies from America's Test Kitchen
As you can see from the picture above, the swirls were more visible in some but not all. The cinnamon sugar filling should have been weighed and divided in half. Instead, I eyeballed it and my first batch ended up with not as much filling as need to make the beautiful swirls.

These were reminiscent of the buttery sugar cookies I would consume as a child from those large tins of assorted cookies. These are delicious but I would prefer a cookie with more pizzazz. But they do receive bonus points for being great eye candy.

Recipe No. 2: Chocolate Sea Salt Rugelach from Molly Yeh
I started my love affair with rugelach two years ago and this year I wanted to make a Christmukkah hybrid by adding some Christmas-colored sprinkles. These were buttery and deliciously chocolately and a complete hit! I used nutella instead of adding in melted chocolate, which sped up the assembly process.

Recipe No. 3: Dark Chocolate Marzipan Scone Loaf from Molly Yeh
This is one of my favorite recipes from Molly's cookbook and were made in small loaf form with the help of these cute baking tins from World Market (I have last year's version). I decreased the baking time to 24 minutes and it easily makes three small loaves---perfect for gifting.

Happy Holiday Baking, everyone!

December 15, 2019

Cupcake Day 2019

It's finally sinking in that these are the last few days of this decade. So as a fond farewell to the Cupcake Days of the 2010s, here is my last National Cupcake Day cupcake of the decade (which was consumed a couple days early since I wouldn't have had time to purchase this cupcake on the actual day).

I'd been following Twig Cake Company on instagram for a while now and have been eyeing their beautiful cupcakes that are sold on the weekends at Monarch Coffee. The coffee shop is only a couple miles from my apartment but it took National Cupcake Day for me to finalize get my hands on one.
There was only one (festive) flavor available: gingerbread with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and crystallized ginger, priced at $5.50 (a little $$$ in my 8 years of cupcaking).

I'm so happy to report that this year's National Cupcake Day cupcake was spectacular! It was perfectly moist with a very flavorful cake. It had the right balance between the robust flavor of the molasses-y cake and the tanginess of the cream cheese frosting. I was a little skeptical because of the price but was more than happily surprised by its deliciousness.

Happy National Cupcake Day!

Twig Cake Company at Monarch Coffee
3550 Broadway Boulevard
Kansas City, Missouri

December 14, 2019

The Chewy Snickerdoodle

Last week was the start of marathon Christmas concerts at work and the best way to uplift a group of tired musicians is always with food. What better way is there to help my colleagues through the holiday season than with some festive baked goodies. While I bookmarked a couple recipes from The Perfect Cookie book for this year's round of Christmas cookies, I immediately changed my mind after seeing this article from The Kitchn about the Best Snickerdoodle Recipe.

I chose to bake the version that would yield a chewy cookie and the end result was a buttery, perfectly chewy and with the right punch of cinnamon sugar. My only complaint is that they weren't as puffy and domed as I'd hope a picture-perfect snickerdoodle would be but I suppose that is the risk I took by choosing the chewy option (there is an option for a cakey texture, which requires more mixing).
I'm excited to see what the Holiday Baking Season has in store for me---I have a few ideas stored away but I can foresee my exhaustion from my holiday craft taking over in the coming week (more on that soon).

The Recipe: Bon Appetit's Best Snickerdoodles