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9 posts tagged baking

Summer Fun

I can’t believe it’s the end of August already!  I’ve always loved the summer, from all the wonderful festivals and the long hours of daylight to traveling abroad (in our case, to Tokyo at the beginning of June!).  It’s been a great summer, and I’m thankful I’ve been able to enjoy the summer months in my pregnancy with enough energy.  I thought I’d share some of our adventures with you through these photos!

It’s been a tradition ever since I was young to visit the exhibition whenever it came into town (known as Klondike Days or Capital Ex for us).  Indulging in carnie food is a must, so we ended up trying “The Colossal Onion” (a delicious deep fried onion that looks like a blooming flower!), freshly cut and fried chips, cotton candy, a caramel milk chocolate apple (this has always been one of my favourite treats), and a corn dog.  Don’t worry…we shared all this food among five people!  This would’ve been wayyy too much for just the two of us!

One of the most beloved festivals here is called the ”Heritage Festival" in which 62 pavillions representing over 85 cultures from all over the world are featured to showcase Canada’s multiculturalism.  Each pavillion makes their own specialty dishes and crafts and demonstrates different performances.  This festival always happens during the first weekend of August, and it is always very hot since it takes places in an open park with little cover and shade!  We braved the heat and tried some delicious food items.  One of our favourite items was the "Mango’s Loco" from Guatemala, which is a mango on a stick rolled in lime juice and spices.  Everyone was carrying these, and they were so juicy and ripe!  You can try making your own with this recipe here!

It’s also been fun trying different recipes this summer too!  Last month I blogged about our lychee frozen yogurt recipe.  I decided to try making a pineapple sorbet as all you need to do is puree pineapple, add sugar, churn it and then freeze it!  Sorbets, gelatos, ice creams and frozen yogurts are perfect for summertime :)  We’ve also been eating a lot of fresh fruit, and I had to use up some blueberries before they went bad, so I found this absolutely amazing recipe here for blueberry muffins (they are aptly titled “To Die For Blueberry Muffins”!). The streusel topping is so delicious, and the muffin itself is very moist- I highly recommend checking this recipe out!

One summer day I had a baking date with my foodie friend Lillian who blogs over at “Beyond Umami”.  We made madeleines, which are small French sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape.  It was my first time making them, but Lillian brought all the necessary supplies and gave me baking tips along the way.  Check out my piping skills and the beautiful finished products :)

I love love love Chinese desserts, from sweet tapioca soups and tong yuens to lian gao.  Whenever we go to Chinese bakeries, I always search for “boot jai goh's”, which are chewy Chinese pudding cakes with a delicious almond flavour.  I've been trying to make some of these desserts at home, and I found a recipe for boot jai goh that I really like!  You can find it here.  I’ve been experimenting with different recipes, but this one is the best so far.  Apparently if you’ve followed the recipe correctly, a “belly-button” in the little cake should form…thankfully they appeared in mine!  Don’t they look yummy and nicely-shaped?  I substituted yellow rock sugar instead of typical white sugar which gave them a more authentic taste!  

I’m so glad I got to finally host another give-away this summer too!  It’s always fun with the level of participation and hearing from people all over the world.  Two of these prizes went to the US and one went to Australia!

Another exciting thing that happened this summer was the purchase of our sewing machine!  Home ec was never offered at my school, so learning how to thread the machine and sew was a daunting task for me!  I’m so thankful for sewing blogs, tutorials and youtube videos that made everything a whole lot easier.  There were mishaps along the way, but it was fun trying out all these different stitches.  Our first major project were the curtains for our nursery!  I will show you the results once our nursery is finished, but I’m pretty proud of how the curtains turned out!  I’m such a newbie at sewing and I can’t wait to try more projects!  Do any of you pro sewers have any tips or ideas for good beginner projects?

We went to some fabric stories to look for patterns for our nursery, and look at this awesome sale on buttons we found- 2 bags for $1!  I picked up these green and fuscia pink buttons to use on baby hats and future projects :)

At a friend’s birthday tea party this summer, everyone made their own fascinators!  There were shoulder pads (for the base), flowers, lace, ribbon, tulle and plenty of materials available, and I thought it was such a great idea.  Everyone’s fascinators looked so unique and beautiful, and group photos were cute with these lovely pieces adorning everyone’s hair!  Here is the one I made!  It just so happened this lace matched perfectly with my crocheted top :)

I love Broadway musicals, and I was disappointed when we were unable to get tickets to see Mary Poppins the last time we were in New York.  I was very excited when I heard they were touring across Canada and making a stop here!  The magical effects and tap dancing were wonderful, and I loved the choreography and performance of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!

Ryan is a big anime fan, and we’ve been watching plenty of anime shows and movies since getting married.  One of the events we were greatly looking forward to attending this summer was the “Animethon”, and we went with my brother (another big anime fan)!  I love seeing all the cosplaying and although we didn’t cosplay (I’m sure one day we will!), I wore my Hello Kitty glasses from Tokyo and ”Nerdy but Cute” Hello Kitty shirt!  We watched some anime, browsed Artist Alley (so many talented anime artists!), watched the cosplay contest and some of a Smash Bros tournament and shopped around the Vendor Hall.  While in the Vendor Hall, I got to try out the “Necomimi”, a set of battery-powered cat ears that supposedly react to brainwaves, making the ears wiggle.  It was fun trying them out, but I couldn’t control them very well…plus they were a hefty price!

Trying to get into the spirit of all things cute and kawaii, this is the bag I carried around the Animethon: my popsicle/ice cream/dessert bag adorned with some Totoro keychains I got from the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, buttons courtesy of Oborocharms and my cotton candy amigurumi teddy from last year’s giveaway.  I also picked up this absolutely adorable pink dumpling from the Vendor Hall of Animethon- wouldn’t this make a cute amigurumi?  I’ll have to keep this in mind for a future project…   

The other purchase I made were these kawaii buttons!  Food looks so much cuter when they have faces :D  I thought these all would make great ideas for future amigurumi too!  Animethon was lots of fun, and one day we hope to go to Comic-Con in San Diego….it is definitely on our must-do list!!!

Thanks for joining me as I recounted my highlights of the summer!  It’s a great way for me to journal and chronicle what we did over these past few months.  I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant now, so our due date is fast approaching!  We had our prenatal classes during the last weekend of August, and they were very informative as they taught us everything from breathing and relaxation exercises to swaddling and bathing baby.  September is absolutely going to fly by (we will be having a baby shower too- so excited for that!) and then October will be right around the corner.  I am very thankful for all of you who have been reading my blog and expressing your support and encouragement throughout the months!  I hope you had a great summer too, and let’s look forward to the fall with new adventures ahead!

I loove bagels, and I never thought of making my own until my sister-in-law started baking them for her family!  What could be better than having fresh, chewy, homemade bagels?  They’re easier to make than I expected, and it’s very cheap since the ingredients are so basic.  I followed this recipe here.  It’s neat because you actually boil the bagels with sugar and salt to give them that chewy texture before baking them in the oven!

I loove bagels, and I never thought of making my own until my sister-in-law started baking them for her family!  What could be better than having fresh, chewy, homemade bagels?  They’re easier to make than I expected, and it’s very cheap since the ingredients are so basic.  I followed this recipe here.  It’s neat because you actually boil the bagels with sugar and salt to give them that chewy texture before baking them in the oven!

We’ve been absolutely loving this recipe for Fluffy Pancakes when we feel like whipping some up for breakfast, especially on a lazy weekend.  Who would’ve known that souring milk with vinegar was a substitute for buttermilk?  This is one of our favourite recipes since the pancakes turn out so very tall, fluffy, and delicious.  Growing up, we used to make pancakes from those boxed pancake mixes, but no more!  Making pancakes from scratch is super easy and all the ingredients are usually readily on hand.  Give this recipe a try here this weekend, and serve them with some fresh fruit and syrup :)

We’ve been absolutely loving this recipe for Fluffy Pancakes when we feel like whipping some up for breakfast, especially on a lazy weekend.  Who would’ve known that souring milk with vinegar was a substitute for buttermilk?  This is one of our favourite recipes since the pancakes turn out so very tall, fluffy, and delicious.  Growing up, we used to make pancakes from those boxed pancake mixes, but no more!  Making pancakes from scratch is super easy and all the ingredients are usually readily on hand.  Give this recipe a try here this weekend, and serve them with some fresh fruit and syrup :)

Best. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.  As you know, I love baking, so I’m always on the hunt for new recipes.  You must try out this recipe by Alice of Savory Sweet Life.  The cookies turned out so moist, chewy and delicious, and everyone loved them!  Some people even commented that they tasted like the scrumptious cookies from “Cookies by George”. 
To prevent the cookies from coming out flat, be sure to cream the butter and sugars for three whole minutes on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy as Alice states in her troubleshooting section (she provides some other tips too).  I also used coarse sea salt instead of table salt as per her suggestion, which gave the cookies a nice flavor. Since these cookies were so big, the centres were chewy and moist :)  This will definitely be my go-to recipe when I’m craving some traditional chocolate chip cookies or if some friends are coming over!

Best. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.  As you know, I love baking, so I’m always on the hunt for new recipes.  You must try out this recipe by Alice of Savory Sweet Life.  The cookies turned out so moist, chewy and delicious, and everyone loved them!  Some people even commented that they tasted like the scrumptious cookies from “Cookies by George”. 

To prevent the cookies from coming out flat, be sure to cream the butter and sugars for three whole minutes on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy as Alice states in her troubleshooting section (she provides some other tips too).  I also used coarse sea salt instead of table salt as per her suggestion, which gave the cookies a nice flavor. Since these cookies were so big, the centres were chewy and moist :)  This will definitely be my go-to recipe when I’m craving some traditional chocolate chip cookies or if some friends are coming over!

Skor Toffee Crunch Blondies

My favourite chocolate bar of all time has to be Skor.  There’s just something about that delicious crunch of butter toffee covered by milk chocolate that is irresistible to me.  Once I take the first bite out of a Skor bar, I pretty much can’t resist and end up eating the whole thing!  This may be random, but I remember eating Skor bars when I was younger and reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.  I always envisioned Skor bars to be Wonka bars, and I thought one day I might find a golden ticket as I peeled away the wrapper!  

A while ago, I went to a friend’s house and she made “Toffee Crunch Blondies" using Skor toffee bits.  This dessert was sooo yummy and quick to make.  She whipped them up right in front of me and told me that the recipe could be found on the back of the Chipits Skor toffee bits package.  The recipe can also be found here on-line.

Mixing all the ingredients together is really quick.  It’s kind of like making one massive cookie, but you save a lot of time since you just pour the batter into a pan rather than individually shaping each cookie!

Once it comes out of the oven about half an hour later, you sprinkle the remainder of the Skor toffee bits ontop (I’ve made this numerous times, and sometimes I forget to save some to sprinkle ontop :S).

This Skor toffee crunch blondie is so incredibly delicious.  It’s moist and chewy with a delightful crunch from the toffee bits.  It’s the most delicious when you eat it while it’s warm out of the oven paired with ice cream!  However, it does stay chewy and moist for days :)  I knew I’d love this dessert given my affinity for Skor chocolate bars.  I’ve made it many times since then, and I always keep a stash of Skor toffee bits in my pantry in case I need to whip up a quick dessert!

Chocolate Banana Bread

I love discovering new blogs whether they’re crochet, fashion, craft, baking or food-related.  As soon as I found Alice’s “Savory Sweet Life”, I scoured her site and found so many delicious recipes I wanted to try.  I love Alice’s writing style and beautiful, crisp photos.  Alice is a busy mom of three who started her blog as a creative outlet and an expression of all that she loves: food, photography, and sharing with others.  It’s always interesting hearing how people start their blogs and share their passions and interests with the world!

One of her recipes that immediately jumped out at me was her “Chocolate Banana Bread with Sour Cream and Chocolate Chips" recipe listed under her “Best Recipes of 2009”.  I thought it sounded like a good twist on the traditional banana bread (which we frequently bake), and I already had most of the ingredients at home.  I just had to go out and buy some bananas and sour cream!  I love using sour cream in cakes since it makes them extra moist.  Find the recipe here.

The batter is all ready to go into the oven!

And here’s the cake one hour later!  Mmm…you could smell the chocolatey-ness :)

And now to cut a slice of the moist, rich chocolate banana bread…

Instead of baking your traditional chocolate cake or banana bread, why not combine the two and give this “Chocolate Banana Bread" a try.  It’ll certainly satisfy any chocolate cravings you may have!  I can’t wait to try Alice’s other recipes…everything looks so delicious :)

Sweet Treat: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today my mom and sister are coming over for a baking day!  We’ll be baking some of our favourite treats including classic chocolate chip cookies :)

We love the “Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies" recipe found on All Recipes here.  Mmmmm…yummy-looking cookie dough….

One of the reviewers of this recipe provided a great tip: mix in a small package of instant vanilla pudding to the batter before adding the chips.  This helps make the cookies chewier and puffier!

These cookies stay chewy for days.  Whip out your mixer and share these with family and friends- they’ll love ya for it ;)

Sweet treat: Tres Leches Cake

It was my sister’s birthday recently, and she requested that I bake her a cake.  I had always wanted to try the “Tres Leches Cake”.  I came across this recipe in a beautiful scrapbook recipe binder that my sister-in-law and mother-in-law made for me as a bridal shower gift. They got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's blog (found here).   Do check out her recipe and blog as her photos and descriptions are much better than mine!  I had never heard of this Latin American cake before, but basically it’s a light sponge cake soaked with three milks (hence the name): evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whipping (heavy) cream.  I thought this recipe looked really interesting and unlike anything I had ever baked before, so I was dying to try it.  Let me tell you, it was well worth it!

Interestingly, the five egg yolks and egg whites had to be beaten separately.

I’m so glad I had the Kitchen Aid mixer to help me beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks!

After mixing all the ingredients together and baking it in the oven for 45 minutes, this is how the cake turned out (after inverting it in to a dish):

Next came the fun part: I punctured the surface of the cake 40-50 times with a fork!

I loved doing the next part: I poured the mixture of the three milks over the cake.

Here is the cake drenched in the milk mixture (I used the whole thing although the Pioneer Woman did not use the last cup of the liquid- I didn’t want to waste anything!).

Would you believe this is what the cake looks like after only half an hour?  It absorbs the liquid so quickly!  I suppose it is, after all, a sponge cake :)  Mmmm…look how moist it is!

I then whipped some heavy cream.  This was my first time doing it as I would previously buy cool whip or whipped cream in a can!  It was pretty fun.

I then covered the cake with whipped cream.

And then added some chopped-up maraschino cherries ontop!

Here is what a slice of the tres leches cake looked like:

This cake was a hit at my sister’s birthday dinner.  It was incredibly moist, sweet, and delicious: it tasted so heavenly and divine.  I would make it again in a heartbeat.  And the great thing is that this cake does not get soggy!  Give this unique cake a try- you won’t regret it!  Thank you Pioneer Woman for posting such a great recipe!

Sweet Treat: White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

No, I did not crochet white chocolate and cranberry cookies, although that would be super cute.  When I first started this blog, I mentioned that I would not only blog about amigurumi, but also my other interests, such as baking and traveling.  And so, while I am still working on other crochet projects, I thought I’d do a post about some delicious cookies I made :)

I absolutely love baking and sharing the treats I make with friends and family.  It also helps that I recently got a KitchenAid mixer- what a difference it makes!  My previous mixer would rattle and shake like crazy, and I frequently had to scrape the sides of the mixer bowl.  I love my KitchenAid mixer and how well it works!

I had some dried cranberries and white chocolate chips I wanted to use, so I looked up a recipe on All Recipes, a website that I love.  You can type in the ingredients you want to use, and they list recipes that contain those ingredients!  The “White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies” recipe I used can be found here

Getting ready to cream the ingredients together…

Adding white chocolate chips and dried cranberries…yum!

The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of brandy, but I substituted 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract instead.  Here they are all ready to be baked!

They turned out deliciously sweet, moist and chewy.  This is a recipe I’ll definitely be using again in the future.  I love baking cookies, so this is a nice variation of the typical chocolate chip cookie!  Give them a try if you’re in a baking mood :)

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