Monday, August 29, 2011

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!


I love chocolate chip cookies! Especially when they are homemade, fresh out of the oven, and chewy. This recipe I tried turned out great! It was easy and they stayed fresh and chewy for  a week! The secret ingredient is... JELLO pudding mix! Try it and I guarantee that this will be the only go- to chocolate chip cookie recipe you will use!

  • 2 1/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C. butter, softened
  • 3/4 C. lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) pkg instant pudding mix. I used butterscotch flavor
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a bowl combine and mix flour and baking soda. In another bowl cream the butter, brown sugar and white sugar for at least 2 minutes. Add the pudding mix and vanilla and beat until creamy. Beat the eggs one at a time. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

I used my handy cookie scooper.
Drop the dough by a tablespoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and spread them an inch apart. Bake for 10- 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Leave the cookies on the sheet for 1-2 minutes before you transfer them to a cooling rack.

Enjoy and happy baking!

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Weekend Baking Frenzy

On the weekends, I practice my baking skills at my boyfriend's place because the house I rent my room from doesn't have a very functional kitchen. Anything I bake that turns out "edible", I have my boyfriend take it to work to share with his coworkers. This recipe I tried was a huge hit: Ina Garten's blueberry crumb cake. Forget the store bought varieties when you can make your own! Bake these for a sunday brunch or just have some with a cup a joe!

Blueberry Crumb Cake

For the Streusel 
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1/3 C. light brown sugar
  • 1tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 C. flour
For the Cake
  • 6 T butter, room temp
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 2 xtra large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2/3 C. sour cream
  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C blueberries
  • Some powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9 inch round cake pan.

For Streusel: Combine sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in melted butter, then flour. Mix to combine and set aside.

For the cake: Cream butter and sugar for 4-5 min until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Then add vanilla, zest, sour cream. Add flour just to combine. Fold in the blueberries. It's very important not to over mix the batter, or else you'll end up with a tough cake.

Pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly with a spatula. Crumble the topping evenly over the batter and bake for 40- 50 min, or until the cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar.

I used frozen blueberries for my cake. I made sure to toss the blueberries with about one tablespoon of flour before I added into the batter. This prevents the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the batter and it also absorbs any extra juice. Usually when you use frozen berries in a recipe, you have to adjust the cooking time by increasing it to 10 minutes. Mine was done by 50 minutes.

Enjoy and happy baking!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Cheesecake" with a Twist

So what's the "twist" in this cheesecake? Well, this cheesecake is completely RAW!! That means nothing is cooked, it's dairy free, gluten-free and super healthy for you! You will be pleasantly surprised how delicious this cheesecake is. It's creamy and rich, just like a regular cheesecake, but way better for you.

The main ingredient in this recipe is  CASHEWS! Cashews?? YES, cashews!! You won't believe it when you taste it; I even tricked my boyfriend, haha. I'm telling you, you won't miss the cream cheese! Give it a try with an open mind!

Pretty in Pink, Raspberry Cheesecake!
Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

For the Crust:
  • 1 C. raw almonds
  • 1 C. raw macadamia nits
  • 1 1/2 C. pitted dates
  • 1/2 C. dehydrated coconut flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
For the Filling:
  • 3 C. raw cashews ( soaked in water for at least an hour, rinsed and drained)
  • 3/4 C. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 C. coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 C. raw agave nectar
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 C. fresh raspberries
For the Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 C. fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 C. pitted dates
Combine all the ingredients for the crust, and process in the food processor until they come together (when you squeeze the mixture between your fingers, it should hold its shape) Form a crust on the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan by patting the crust out evenly with your hands. Set aside.

The crust
Combine all the ingredients for the filling into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour 3/4 of the filling over the prepared crust, and smooth it out with a spatula, tap out any air bubbles. Add 1/2 C of fresh raspberries into the remaining filling and blend until it turns pink and the raspberries are blended. Pour the pink filling over the white filling and smooth it out with a spatula, tap out any air bubbles. Place the cheesecake into a freezer for 4-6 hours. Defrost for an hour before serving.

Ready for the freezer!
For the sauce, combine raspberries and dates into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce through a mesh strainer to strain out the seeds. Drizzle the sauce over the cheesecake when you serve.

I didn't have a spring form pan, so I used a regular cake pan and lined it with saran wrap, so I can easily take the cheesecake out when it's done. I also poured my raspberry sauce evenly over the cheesecake before I stuck in the freezer for another pretty layer.

This cheesecake is so healthy with protein, minerals, and healthy fats, I actually ate some for breakfast! YUM!

Interesting facts about cashews: a few handfuls of cashews provide 1000-2000 mg of tryptophan, which will work as well as prescription antidepressant. Who would've thought??

Monday, August 15, 2011

Be Inspired

I'm always looking for ways to improve myself; whether it's for my health, my education, or my general outlook in life, I'm always striving. Lately, I've been looking into raw food diet to improve my diet and my overall well-being.

I've always been fascinated by this genre of vegan diet that will only consume raw foods or anything that has not been cooked over 118 degrees. Naturally, a diet that's high in plant-based products. The theory here is when you cook food over 118 degrees, not only are you destroying the vital nutrients, but also the enzymes that help your body absorb the vitamins and minerals. When the natural enzymes in foods are destroyed, your body has to use its own enzymes to help digest the food. This is the reason why you get a "food coma" after you eat; you body is using a lot of energy to replace the enzymes that were lost during the process of cooking.

Love and eat your veggies!

I have tried a couple recipes and tried a few raw vegan restaurants, and I gotta say, I'm very impressed with the creativity that goes into creating delicious food without cooking. The only "cooking" they will do is by dehydrating, blending, and processing the food. I'm not going to convert to a full raw vegan because that's just crazy talk. I love my cooked carbs too much and raw diet will be an inconvenience when it comes to socializing, but I believe incorporating some of this diet can be beneficial to my health. Plus it's a great way to get more veggies and fruits into my diet

This weekend I was even more inspired by the benefits of raw food by my Pilates instructor/mentor, Leah's first "Pilates in the RAW" workshop at Livelife Pilates that include a 90 minute mat Pilates followed by a raw food demo. The mat Pilates was pretty brutal; I've forgotten how difficult mat Pilates can be, lol. Leah showed us 4 recipes: almond milk, raw zucchini pasta, dates torte, and peachy green smoothie.They were all so delicious and very simple to make.

Leah lecturing on benefits of raw foods.

From now on, you will see me posting some raw recipes as I experiment with them so be prepared!

My goal: Be more conscious about what I put in my body, nourish my body and eat more foods in their purest form. Try to avoid heavily processed food as much as I can.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for a friend's potluck party to celebrate her birthday and housewarming! A special day indeed, so cake mix cupcakes are not good enough! However, scratch made lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese will do.

Lemon Cupcakes
If you love lemons, you will dig these cupcakes. They have the perfect balance of sweet and tartness; especially with the lemon cream cheese frosting. The cake is derived from Ina Garten's Yogurt Lemon Cake recipe and the frosting is from an online source that I tweaked a bit.


  • 1 1/2 C. flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 C. plain yogurt
  • 1 1/3 C. divided
  • 3 xtra large eggs
  • 2 tsp of grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C. veggie oil
  • 1/3 C. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla. Whisk in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the veggie oil into the batter. Pour batter into the muffin cups using 1/4 measuring cup. Bake for about 18-20 min.

Meanwhile, cook 1/3 C. lemon juice and remaining 1/3 C. sugar in a small pan until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

When they're done, allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Place the cupcakes on a baking rack. While the cake is still warm, dip the muffin tops into the lemon-sugar mixture for 3-5 seconds and allow them to soak in. Let them cool before frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 C. softened butter
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 4 C. powdered sugar
Beat the cream and butter together, add lemon zest and lemon juice. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time while beating.

Simply decorated with sprinkles.

I had some left over lemon juice-sugar mixture, so what did I do with it? I made lemonade!

Mmm, refreshing!
And to conclude this post...

Amen to that!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hand-sewn Teddy Bears

These teddy bears I made from my pure curiosity of whether I could make one from scratch. I believe the first one I made was for a gift and the second one was because I was really bored.. These are hand-sewn bears with movable joints. I love them! They are so cute and because they are handmade, they add character.

I found the patterns and "how to" online. Honestly, I can't live without the internet.

My first teddy bear I made. It is quite deformed.

Teddy bear #2, I named Rupert.
Oh yes, and Happy friday

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Easy Breezy Creme Caramel

Making creme caramel or flan seems intimidating when there's so many recipes out there, but it's so easy and simple to make! Especially this basic recipe; it's fail proof and guaranteed delicious!

Recipe from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio

For the caramel:
1/2 C. sugar
2 Tablespoons of water

For the custard:
2 C. of milk
8 oz eggs ( 4 large eggs)
1/2 C. of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp of salt

The recipe is enough to fill 5 (6oz) ramekins.

Combine the ingredients for the caramel in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar turns brown, swirling the saucepan to mix the color. Keep a close eye on the sugar since it can turn from caramel to burnt sugar  in seconds.

Pour the caramel into the ramekins and swirl around to evenly coat the bottom to about 1/8 inch thick. Set aside to cool and harden. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Combine the ingredients for the custard and whisk until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins and place them into a roasting pan.

Pour boiling water into the roasting pan, 3/4 way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil loosely and into the oven and bake for 30-60 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your ramekins, so make sure to keep checking. When it's done, the custard should be almost set; not runny, but jiggly when you shake it. Let it cool in the water bath for 5 minutes before you chill it in the fridge. ENJOY!!