Mango Coconut Smoothie

Mango Coconut Smoothie

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen” -John Steinbeck

After reading this quote in a cookbook earlier, it just stuck. I love the versatility of it in that it can apply to any realm that you are inquisitive about. Well, I’ll have to assume you’re at least passionate about food-related subjects if you’re reading my blog post. Whatever it is that you are craving and cooking now or even experimenting with, it takes a few tries to know the ins and outs of your dish before you are comfortable enough to help others with troubleshooting. If ideas really were like rabbits, then I’m sure many of us would be hoarders haha.

Anyways, for the past few weeks, I was on a smoothie roll. I kept it to the basics- frozen fruit, milk, honey- and it was satisfying for both breakfasts and study snacks. It got a little boring though and I figured I would change it up, while still keeping it simple. No one wants to make a 20 ingredient smoothie in the morning.

The mango in this smoothie is complimented by the creaminess of the coconut milk and the slight acidity of the lemon juice. It’s a guilt-free smoothie and perfect for those who are dairy free or vegans. Of course, you can adjust it to your like. If you like smoothies that are thicker, add more frozen mango chunks or if you like it on the watery side, you can reduce the amount of mango. This is a great base for any smoothie and if you want to highlight a distinct fruit then simply switch out the mangos for something like pomegranate or raspberries.

Mango Coconut Smoothie

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

Adapted from KitchenConfidante

 

 

 

Advertisements

Mason Jar Pecan Pies, Watermelon Bubble Tea, & More

pecanpie

Today’s lesson: You and only you have the power to turn your day into a great one.

My weekend was supposed to end with a relaxed swimming day with some friends. Nope. The stormy, rainy weather thought otherwise. My pool day was canceled and I was left with… A choice to either nap in, finish off some work, or host a cooking day instead. I chose the last option and sure was I glad that I decided to do so! Yes, I was pretty disappointed at the bipolar weather, but what better than great food and fabulous friends to spend your day with? Mason jar pecan pies. Watermelon inspired bubble tea. Soft & chewy chocolate chip cookies. Homemade mochi with mango and blood orange sorbet. My focus tends to be on the desserts, but I promise we ate some real food before all of this. Definitely can’t forget the chili cheese macaroni and buffalo chicken nacho pasta that was on the menu for entree.

filledpies

Mason jars just offer their own homey and special atmosphere. I have no idea what it is about mason jars, but I love them! These mini 4 ounce jars are just enough to satisfy you, especially if you have just eaten dinner or lunch. Not too much, not too little. And you know what’s best? You can use the lid and store them in your fridge for later, so no hassle of finding an empty Tupperware to store it.

pies

To top it all off: a scoop of classic vanilla bean ice cream. The cold creamy texture of the ice-cream perfectly balanced out the warm, chewiness of the pecan pie.

Mason Jar Pecan Pies 

Makes enough for 12 (4 oz) mason jars

Preheat: 350 F

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
  •  A ready made pie crust (store bought or homemade)

Directions

  1. Mix together the sugar, brown sugar, salt, syrup, vanilla, butter, and eggs.
  2. Get a round object (like a circle cookie cutter) that is a little wider than the mason jars to cut the pie crust
  3. Press the cut crusts into each of the mason jars so that they reach at least half way up
  4. Sprinkle some pecans in the bottom of each of the mason jars
  5. Pour your prepared syrup into each jar (about 3/4 full)
  6. Put your mini mason jars on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 F (if they start to burn on the top, take them out)

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman can be found here

watermelon

Any bubble tea fanatic will appreciate this drink right here. Once you’ve tasted a majority of the usual bubble tea flavors such as thai tea, green tea, jasmine, etc. you will find that you may want something new; something a little more exciting. Now, the classics never get old. I could legit order green tea or thai tea for days and still love it as much as I did the first day.

The bubble tea above is made of a honeydew base and topped off with a watermelon slush and tapioca pearls for the “seeds”.

Watermelon Honeydew Bubble Tea

Directions:

I really have no exact measurements for this, because it truly is best done without that. I will still give a general recipe as to how I made it. The bottom is a honeydew base. It is basically honeydew blended with a few ice cubes added and half a cucumber. The top is purely watermelon. No ice cubes there. Blend enough watermelon till your desired amount is reached and add a few scoops of lemonade powder as it complements it nicely. Add prepared tapioca pearls and you are done!

Tips:

-Recipe for Tapioca Pearls can be found here (My post about it is still in progress)

mochi

Mmmmmochi! I’ve always seen this delectable and chewy delight in frozen yogurt shops, yet I had never really tasted it by itself to appreciate it to its fullest. One of my friends brought the recipe for this with her and so we got to add it to our great menu of desserts for the day. It goes great with sorbet especially blood orange and mango (pictured above). I will have a special post dedicated to how to make this delicacy later with step by step pictures so keep posted :)

 

 

 

Houston Bites: Ca Phe Phin- Vietnamese Coffee House

Cà Phê Phin. The name has a catchy sound to it. Cà phê is actually the Vietnamese word for coffee and phin is the drip by drip brewing process that they use to make the coffee. Me and my friends were looking for a cafe that we hadn’t been to before in Houston, and so this place seemed like the perfect find. You may have driven by this place numerous times not knowing what quenching drinks lay inside (If you are a Houstonian, that is). This coffee house lays tucked away in the middle of a shopping center on Nasa Rd 1. It is right next to Akimi Sushi & Stir Fry, which is a great landmark to have to find this place. Located in Houston, this cafè has quite the prime location as it is a minute’s drive from Nasa Space Center. If you are looking for a laid-back, calm atmosphere to talk to your friends, do some homework, or just get a drink, then this is a place that you should put down on your to-do list. I, myself, will be coming back for sure to try some of their different drinks.

Right when we walked in, we instantly felt the inviting and cozy atmosphere. The sunlight, shining in from the large windows, lit up the whole interior and gave it a very nice and natural feel. The funky cultural artifacts around gave additional character to the small space.

Ca Phe PhinCa Phe Phin

Here is the menu that we spent forever looking at. I personally am a big green tea and thai tea person, but I decided to try something different while here. The Ca Phe Sua was described as a translucent, rich smooth drink with light condensed milk and so I tried that one out in frappe form!

Menu

The delicious Ca Phe Sua frappe! It had a strong coffee taste but was creamy and satisfying. If you love coffee, but want a cold drink for the day then I would suggest you try out the Ca Phe Sua.

Ca Phe Sua Frappe

One of my friends got the Banana Japanese Green Tea Frappe, but without the bananas. This drink did not have a bitter after-taste as some green tea frappes do, so this is one you will enjoy!

Green Tea Frappe

And finally, pictured on the left is the pineapple slush. Even though this a coffee house and you would think that the only good products would be the coffee, the pineapple slush did not disappoint. For those people who prefer fruity over coffee drinks, this is a go-to! On the right is the salted caramel frappe, which again tasted just as one would expect, with a hint of salted caramel. All of us finished our drinks and left with the intention of returning to try the other delights that we did not get a chance to. I really wanted to get the toasted sesame frappe. I am curious as to how that one will taste, but we will have to wait till the next visit.

pineapple slush

 

Green Tea Frappè with Tapioca

Green Tea Frappé

Mason jars have just opened a whole new world to me. It’s crazy the amount of desserts or drinks you can make in them! They also end up looking ten times nicer, because the mason jar just adds this special effect to any photo. Well, asides from the mason jar, the green tea is definitely a winning flavor. It tastes perfect in just about anything- macarons, ice-cream, cake, and even lattès. Any bakery that serves this flavor instantly earns five stars from me haha. If you have not tried this flavor before, it would probably be a good idea to get that on your priority list. Usually I’m a regular with the “green tea” bubble tea served at tapioca houses, with the “thai tea” bubble tea coming in to a close second. I have also tried the green tea frappuccino from Starbucks, but I was disappointed with it. It felt that it was too sweet and had too much ice, like most of their drinks. Check below to see how to make this one of a kind green tea frappuccino!

Green Tea Frappuccino

Makes: One Serving

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice-cream
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla syrup or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until at a smooth consistency
  2. Serve with a scoop of ice-cream if desired

For directions regarding the tapioca, check out this link here. I will be posting my own step-by-step for it soon!

Tips:

-Green tea matcha powder can be found at a local Chinese grocery store or at amazon where I bought mine

-The matcha will be a little bitter, but the vanilla syrup or extract will cover up that bitterness

Batman Fondant Cake, Chocolate Trifles, & Tropical Punch

Batman Cake

Finally MCAT and finals free!!! This was the first thing I baked after depriving myself of baking while studying. My sister’s birthday was originally the week before my test. I know, what perfect timing… I told her, if she wanted me to make a cake that she’d have to move her party to the week after. This time, I made her cake the day before her party (best decision ever btw). Last year I decided to make her cake the day of and was still decorating it till even after guests started to arrive, which was pretty stressful. You can check out her last year’s Chinese Takeout Box Cake here.

If you look closely at the picture, you can actually see the Batman sign that I wedged in the cake, burning haha. Someone yelled out that it was on fire after I had lit all the candles. Without thinking, I blew them all out, pulled out what little was left of it, and had to relight all the candles.

Choc Cake Trifles

Other than the cake, I also decided to make these small chocolate trifles. I found these plastic disposable cups from Dollar Store. Definitely made for an easy clean up, which is always a great goal to have for any type of party!

Batman IceCubes

Of course, I had to top it all off with these Batman ice cubes for the punch. I guess I was so excited about these, that I forgot to even take a picture of the punch!!

**Check below for recipes for the Batman Fondant Cake, Chocolate Trifle Cups, & the Tropical Punch**

Batman Fondant Cake

-For a quick overview, the cake was made from four layers that I stacked.

-The two that I used for the base were vanilla. For the top two layers I used a Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe.

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Cake recipe found here

Vanilla Sour Cream Cake

Makes: two 8 or 9 inch cakes

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Whisk the egg whites, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl
  2. Combine together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and lightly mix
  3. While the mixer is on a low speed, add in the butter (chunk by chunk) until the mixture is crumbly
  4. Now add your milk and egg mix to the crumbly mixture and mix for a minute
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated
  6. Add the sour cream next and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds
  7. Spread the mix in a cake pan (use springform pan for ease of removing the cake)
  8. Bake the cake for 23-30 minutes or until well done

Tips:

-If you want the cake to come out cleanly, line the pan with parchment paper and use a springform pan as well

-Instead of black fondant, you can color the white fondant with black gel food coloring & you can also buy edible black paper for the buildings and Batman signals

-The yellow parts on the cake are white fondant colored with yellow gel food coloring

-The toppings for the cake are wire cake toppers from Hobby Lobby & I printed out Batman signs that I cut out to paste onto them, because I had run out of the of the edible black paper

Mini Chocolate Trifles

Makes: 25 cups

Ingredients

  • Leftover cake pieces, about 1/2 cake
  • 3 boxes of instant chocolate pudding
  • 10 Oreos, crushed
  • 1 can of whip cream

Directions

  1. Make the pudding according to the instructions on the box
  2. Cut the cake into small pieces, size does not have to be exact
  3. Fill each cup with a few small pieces of cake
  4. Top with a few spoonfuls of pudding
  5. Add whip cream on the pudding with a handful of crushed Oreos
  6. Serve and enjoy

Tropical Punch

Makes: Two large punch bowls (50- 4 ounce servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 46 fluid ounce can pineapple juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 2 two-liter bottles of lemon-lime carbonated soda

Directions

  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil for 2-3 minutes
  2. Stir in the pineapple juice, lemon juice, and orange juice
  3. Divide the mixture into three large ziploc storage bags and place in freezer
  4. When ready to use, mix the lemon-lime carbonated soda with the juice mixture

 

Batman Cake

Batman Cake

 

 

Peppermint Shakes & Macarons = Pure Joy

College winter breaks are seriously the best!! Totally beats the measly two weeks we would get back in high school. One of many things that I was looking forward to making once I had finished with the busyness of all my exams was macarons!! This soft delicate cookie along with the slight crunch you taste when you first bite into it, is truly one of a kind. The hundreds of flavors that you can make it in, not to mention the crazy fillings you can come up with, only make it more desirable. In a previous post, I made chocolate macarons with 3 different kinds of fillings- chocolate espresso, chocolate chip cookie dough, and chocolate coconut. This post along with the recipe can be found here. Today though, I made a pink coconut flavored macaron and filled it with chocolate espresso. Needless to say, they disappeared within seconds. Can’t wait to make these again!

photo-5

The day before I made these macarons, I was really craving something sweet. Hmmmm, what to get?? I decided I must get a shake! Sadly though, there are no places near my house that are known for their shakes. I was quite disappointed with the ones from Sonic. They tasted more like ice cream and were so thick I had to use a spoon to eat it. The best shakes I have tried where at Chicago at a chain restaurant called Steak N Shake. I guess you can deduce from the name that they must be famous for their shakes! There is a Steak N Shake in fact near my area, but the fact that it has not opened yet is killing me!!! Oh well, the next best thing I guessed would be a homemade shake. Being it the winter season and all, I’ve been reading about all these peppermint desserts so I resolved that I would make a Peppermint Shake. A quick search on foodgawker and I had my recipe ready to go. It really is quite easy. All you need is vanilla icecream, white chocolate, milk, and peppermint candy canes. Blend it all together and top with crushed candy canes and whipped cream and you are good to go!

photo-4

What Better Than A Pumpkin Spice Latte with Choc Swirl Pumpkin Pie?

There’s no season for me when it comes to pumpkin spice anything. It can be eaten anytime & anywhere. Some foods though do just happen to taste better in certain types of weather than others. I guess we can say that Pumpkin Spice is one of those, because it just goes perfect with the nice crispy & chilly fall weather outside! I am in love with this weather because it brings back so many of my past memories from chilly Chicago winters. I always look forward to the Starbucks signature seasonal drinks, one of them being the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The last time I bought it though, it just tasted too sugary and syrupy so I decided that I should attempt to remake it on my own terms. The recipe I found was amazing because it makes enough to last you for about 8 lattes. You can just refrigerate it during the week and take it out whenever you please.

The Famous Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ingredients:

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup:

  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree or 2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mixture or ( 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp ground dried ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp allspice)

Remaining Ingredients:

  • ready made coffee
  • whipped cream

Directions:

  1. Combine all the pumpkin spice ingredients in a blender and puree for about 30 seconds or till your desired consistency
  2. Pour about 1/2 cup of the mix in a mug and microwave for about 15 seconds
  3. Add a cup of hot brewed coffee and stir
  4. Finish it off with some whipped cream and pumpkin spices
  5. Pour the rest of your mixture in a container to put in the fridge (it will last up to one week)

Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Crust

  •  1 1/2 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt

Pie

  • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree or 2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella (or 4 oz of good quality chocolate)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin spices mix (1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat to 350 F

  1. Spray 9 inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside
  2. Combine the crushed gingersnap cookies with the butter, sugar, and salt
  3. Press into the prepared pie dish about halfway up the sides
  4. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes and let it cool
  5. Meanwhile whisk the eggs together and add all the ingredients for the pie except for the chocolate Nutella
  6. Keep one cup of the mix on the side and pour the rest of it into the pie crust
  7. Mix the one remaining cup of pie mix with the Nutella
  8. Drop spoonfuls of the mix all over the pie and swirl it gently with a knife
  9. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is set

Any favorite seasonal recipes or foods?

Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes and Cherry Lime Soda!!

Whenever you get milkshakes, you think of the traditional chocolate, vanilla, oh and strawberry. It’s always nice to try something different instead of ordering the same flavor every single time. The first time I tasted the wonderous Pumpkin Pie Milkshake was at Fuddruckers, a restaurant well known for their fresh and juicy burgers. It was their highlighted dessert around the October fall season when pumpkin spice is usually found as a special everywhere from the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte to Einstein Bagels’s Pumpkin Spice Muffin. A picture of the irresistible shake was displayed on this huge sign near the entrance and looked oh so yummy, so I decided I must have one! The shake was pure perfection and to me seemed the best way to enjoy pumpkin pie at any time of the year.

Pumpkin Pie MilkShake (makes 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of vanilla ice cream (amount depends on how thick you want the shake to be)
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 3 sheets of graham crackers
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of fine sea salt
Directions:
  1. Blend all the ingredients together until at a consistency suitable for you.
Some tips:
-If you reallyyy want to make this shake yet don’t have some pumpkin puree on you, it will be fine if you make the recipe without that ingredient because the pumpkin pie spice will give it the pumpkiny flavor ( though it really does taste better with the pumpkin puree which you can find directions for making it from scratch on one of my earlier posts )
-if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can make the mixture by using 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, pinch of ground clove, and a 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. There are many different ways you can make the pumpkin spice so adjust it according to what you have and to achieve the perfect flavor for you!
My first try at this delectable dessert

The second time around that I made it, I decided to put it in a fancy cup, along with whipping cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice to top it off

Now something else I’ve discovered is Cherry Lime Soda. It’s very simple and can be compared to Sonic’s Cherry Limeade (though I think this one is better because it is healthier and you know what is going in it). All you do is get a can of sparkling water-any brand- and add the syrup of your choice. I bought the syrup from Sam’s Club though it can probably be found elsewhere.

Cherry Lime Soda

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of sparkling water
  • 1 bottle of flavoring syrup

Directions:

Put some crushed ice in a glass. Add the sparkling water and then the syrup to your liking.