Cranberry Chocolate chip Cookie Coming Right Up!

It has been raining all weekend long. What’s best to do on a raining day? Staying indoors! After having a dim sum brunch with friends and family, I headed straight home as I had a sudden urge to bake. My mom suggested to make some steamed buns, which I fulfilled. But somehow I wasn’t satisfied because I was making the same kinds of buns as I did before. Nothing interesting. Then something struck me. I want to make a test batch of cookie which I plan to make for a cancer fundraising event this upcoming week. I use one of Anna Olsen’s recipe from Oh Yum with Anna Olsen YouTube channel with some alteration.

Ingredients

4oz of soften unsalted butter

1/2 cup of light brown sugar

1/2 cup of granulated sugar (I use a little less than 1/2 cup as my family members don’t like it too sweet)

1 large egg

1 tsp of vanilla extract (I used almond extract because I ran out of vanilla extract)

1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp baking soda (I used baking powder in this case)

1/2 tsp salt (I use a pinch)

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I didn’t measure mines, I just add as much as I like)

1 cup of chopped pecans (instead of nuts, I use dried Cranberries)

Methodology:

Combined both sugars with butter using a spatula until well blend. Then add an egg to the mixture and blend it well. Next fold in all the dry ingredients and mix it well. Lastly, add chocolate chips and dried cranberries into the mixture.  Before baking them, Use a spoon to scoop out the dough to form small individual balls,  place them onto a cookie sheet 2-3 inches apart from each other and refrigerate it for an hour.

What I learned and noticed when I bake two batches of cookies one on each rack inside the oven is that the lower rack will always cook faster than the top ones. After about 20 mins, I let it cool and enjoy.

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Cream Cheese Pan Fried Buns

Recently, I have experimented on steamed buns and have continuously making them for a period of time. Today I want to try something new, something different. I YouTube some recipes and stumbled upon a recipe from Amanda Taste. Her recipe doesn’t required any baking nor steaming. She introduced me to a new method of preparing buns: pan fried. This is so intriguing and quite interesting. Thought I’ll give it a try. The ingredients are quite simple (I do not own the recipe, credit goes to Amanda Taste’s channel on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmhb2HTrbKE):

250g Bread Flour

125g of milk

1 egg

1tsp of active yeast

3 Tbsp of sugar

pinch of salt

60g of softened butter

100g powdered sugar

150g cream cheese

The method is very simple. First, combine bread flour, milk, egg, yeast, salt and sugar together until the dough is formed. Next, slowly add the softened butter in 3 parts to the dough so that dough can be absorbed. Set the dough aside to rise, this takes roughly about 2 hours depending on the temperature. I usually place it on the upper rack inside the oven with a bowl of hot water right under the dough so it can rise faster. In the meantime, on a separate bowl, whisk the cream cheese until loosen and add the powdered sugar into the mix. This will be the filling. Once the dough is ready (rise twice in size), divide the dough into small individual balls. Flattens each dough balls into thin round sheets and wrap the fillings with it. Place the uncooked buns unto a parchment paper and transfer them into a pan, cover the pan with a lid. Turn on the stove and put it on the lowest setting. Wait until the buns expand in size and flip the buns over. According to Amanda’s Taste, it takes 8 minutes to be cooked. For some reason, mines took an hour or so. I thought maybe the difference in stove setting, pans, or size of the buns? I want to play it safe and cook longer than expected. But definitely 8 minutes is nowhere near cook in my case. I make this twice, the first batch with all purpose flour and the second batch with bread flour. Because the first batch I use was all purpose flour, I thought maybe that might be the reason my batch takes so much longer than what was shown. Therefore, I went and purchased bread flour for the second batch which sadly turns out to use the same amount of time. The texture on both type of flour used is slightly different in my opinion. Overall, it was a fun new experience. It does takes a lots of patience in pan frying these buns in my case.

 

Party with our house specialty- Sushi

Sushi has gain its popularity in Chicago over the past decade. It is so popular that a lot of youngsters start to learn this form of artwork; some went on to become chefs and some start their own sushi business. In some parts of town, there are new sushi places open a few block from each other every year. Some places even offer sushi buffet at an affordable price so everyone can try.

I took the tenancy to learn a few tricks myself while watching the sushi chefs make sushi. When I was confident enough, I made the first batch of sushi for our family gathering. Since then, it has fast became a favorite must have food whenever we host parties. Usually the sushi will be all gone by the time the last person shows up. You know what they said: you snooze you lose. DSC_0407

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Homemade Tacos- Taste just like Home-made

Today, for some reason we have the urge to made tacos. While shopping at a local Jewel-Osco store, I spotted chicken breast was on sale. Perfect! Just what I need. Our style of tacos is very simple and so far nowhere in Chicago (as far as I know) sells them.

The recipe is fairly simple:

chicken breast

cilantro

yellow onion

red recado and salt

hot sauce (optional)

corn/ flour tortilla

We seasoned the chicken breast with red recado and salt and put it in a pot of water, then slow cook it until the meat is so tender that they are shredded. This process may take an hour to two depending on the amount of meat. In the meantime, we dice the onions and cut the cilantro in smaller bits. Once the meat is ready, we place the meat, cilantro, onions and hot sauce (optional) on the tortilla and roll it up to be eaten. It was delicious! The meat was so juicy. The only downside was the tortillas, it crumbles as it gets cold. I wish I can find freshly made tortillas like I did before at a flea market many years ago. That stall makes the tortilla from scratch infront of you as you order your tacos. Unfortunately, a year back when I visit the place, they were no longer there. I have tried to make the tortilla once from scratch after watching them performed but failed. They made it look so easy yet so hard to accomplished. Maybe someday I’ll give it a try again.

Taste of Aloha!

Over the recent years, there’s a few fast food chain on the rise includes Chipotle that serves American style Mexican burrito and tacos. Last year, I was introduced to another fast food place that hid in the loop and Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Aloha serves sashimi (raw fishes) over a bowl of rice with condiments. At first when I heard about Aloha, I thought it was a restaurant that serves Hawaiian cuisine. I was super excited as I never had Hawaiian cuisine before. Much to my surprise, it was a fast food place. It is a sashimi version of Chipotle. I believe it got its name from the colorfulness of  the bowl. Their menu style is so much similar to Chipotle, where you choose the size of bowl, select the base (white rice, brown rice or greens), pick the poke (tuna, salmon or tofu) and finished it off with condiments to go on top of the bowl. The food was quite refreshing, tasted nothing like sushi (raw fish over rice) nor rolls (raw fish with condiments rolled with rice). It does give you that Hawaiian feeling (although I never been there). Most restaurant are beginning to incorporated recycling ideas. This one in particular uses empty cans to grow small house plants for their decoration. I believe it supply people with idea on how to recycle their empty cans as well.

Eagle Point & Guano Point- Grand Canyon West

 

Two and a half hour from Las Vegas Strip is the closest Grand Canyon West – Eagle Point. Eagle Point got its name from the rock formation of the Canyon that resembles the shape of an eagle with both wings spreading out. Another main attraction on this side of the canyon beside the beautiful scenery of the canyon  is the skywalk. The skywalk is a horseshoe like glass bridge that extended outward on top the canyon which was opened in 2007. Walking on the bridge, one can observed the Colorado river right under their feet. Besides viewing the Canyon at the top, one can also take a helicopter ride down the basin and take a short boat ride of the Colorado river. Although it was quite costly, there were a lot of tourist took the ride down the river. 20150129_12092520150129_12192020150129_13004320150129_12100220150129_12193920150129_13002720150129_125648

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2015

Taste of Spanish Tapas

I wonder when did all this food adventure started? I remember in the past, I don’t like to dine out mainly because I was a poor college student struggling to pay off school and expenses. At that time I was only exposed to Chinese and Mexican food, therefore food was not of my interest. It is not until the summer before graduation from college that my friend and I went to an Indian restaurant for lunch on the west campus of UIC  That was the first time I ever had Indian food; my overall impression was that all their dishes are heavily covered with sauces. I remember during that summer we set a goal to try out different cultural food by the next summer. Well, we failed that mission. Slowly as my gals are graduating one by one, we are trying to venture out different places for different occasions. Now that we are all out of school, we have more time venturing.

Tapas is a Spanish type of cuisine which serves several small portions of different appetizers or snacks which can be hot or cold.  Honestly, I never knew what tapas was until I had it first at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba in 2015. I’m not sure what we ordered, but when the food arrived, i was surprised. Surprised that it was unique, something i never had before; there was a little bit of everything on the plate.

A year later, we stop by another Spanish Cuisine: Tapas Valencia. I remember that night we had a musical to see, thus we calculated and prepared enough time to order and eat until our waitress came over and informed us that one of our dishes will take at least 45 mins. Because of the high reviews of that particular dish, we decided to wait for it worst case scenario we can pack it to go. As one may learn, it is not wise to trust your waitress; the 45 min dish came in 30 mins (yes, I do think it is fully cooked. No ambulance was needed).  The food was delicious, the bacon dates standout the most. It had a sweet and salty flavor combined with a rich sauce. Overall, it was a nice experience.