Sunday, March 30, 2008

lemons and crabapples

I got up at 3:30am this morning to catch a 6am flight. I had three hours of sleep last night. I slept for 3 hours during the flight from Oakland to KC. I just got home, finished unpacking, had a lunch, and now I'm beat.

Screw homework, I'm taking a nap. Oh, and since I'm so tired, here's some pretty pictures of a lemon "tree" (shrub? mini-tree?) and a fruitless crabapple tree in bloom.

I often wonder whether I should quit law school and become a professional photographer.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

banana caramel cupcakes

I bought this new cupcake book at Barnes and Nobles. There's a lot of good recipes for "gourmet" cupcakes, but I haven't had time to try any of it out. Plus, I don't have a lot of baking stuff in my apartment and don't want to buy all of it and have more to pack when I move after graduation. So, when I was packing for spring break at L&G's in sunny California, I packed the book along.

For Easter, I decided to attempt the banana caramel cupcakes. Sooooooo yummy. Below is the receipt and pictures of the process. Sour Cream Banana Cake:
-6 tbsp butter, softened.
-1/2 cup firmly packed brown suger.
-2 eggs.
-1/2 cup self-rising flour
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp allspice
-2/3 cup mashed overripe bananas
-1/3 cup sour cream
-3 tbsp milk

Filling and decorations
-3 tbsp caramel sauce
-1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
-2 medium bananas (14 ounces), sliced thinly
-chocolate chips to top (or shaved chocolate)

Baking Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 6-hole oversize (Texas) or 12-hole standard muffin pan with paper baking cups.

2. Beat butter, sugar and eggs in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.

3. Stir in sifted dry ingredients, banana, sour cream and milk. Divide mixture among baking cups; smooth surface.

4. Bake large cakes about 25 minutes, small cakes about 20 minutes. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool.
5. Remove baking cups from cakes.

6. Fold 3 tbsp of the caramel into the whipped heavy cream.

7. Cut cakes horizontally into three slices. Re-assemble cakes with caramel whipped cream and banana slices. (cake, whipped cream, banana slices, cake, whipped cream, banana slices, cake).

8. Top with layer of caramel whipped cream and chocolate chips.
This is the finished product. Get a fork, a glass of milk, and devour away.

Easter Eggs

Last year, my birthday was on Easter and I went to Easter Service at a Presbyterian church. This year, Easter is starting off our spring break and I went to Easter Service at a Southern Baptist church. Boy, that was quite an experience. Hallelujah!

After church, L was preparing Easter dinner and she wanted me to decorate hard boiled eggs. I haven't dyed Easter eggs since I was ten years old, but I'll do anything artsy that involves getting my hands dirty.
So we boiled the eggs and then I prepared the colors, 1/2 cup warm water plus 3 tbsp vinegar and a tablet of dye. Turns out the red is really orange, and blue and green dyes the best.

I used the wax crayon to draw on the eggs before dipping it in the dye. It's kinda hard to draw on a white egg with a clear wax crayon and not be able to see what you just drew. Turned out okay, I guess. At least you can tell this one is a flower.

The plate of finished eggs, sitting and drying. There was a weird looking rabbit that I drew -- it was kinda sadistic looking. Oh well, I'll be breaking up the eggs and making egg salad in about an hour.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 14, 2008

a shot of dessert

Tonight's spur of the moment dinner was at PF Changs, one of my favorite Chinese-food-made-for-the-American palate (aka as authentic Chinese as you can go without scaring off the Americans). We had the PF Changs Spareribs (not shown), Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Fried Shrimp Dumplings (both shown below).

The ribs were finger licking good (although, PF Changs is probably not the kind of place to start licking your fingers at the table). The sauce was probably hoison based, and the meat was nice and tender, sliding off the bone with ease.

The chicken lettuce wraps were delicious, too. To make it more authentic, a side of hoison sauce should have been included -- oh wait, that's Peking duck, nevermind.

I was quite surprised that the fried shrimp dumplings (image below - up close and personal) were quite large in size. I was expecting dumplings that were about an inch and a half in diameter, but these things were almost two inches all around. I wasn't able to pop a whole dumpling in my mouth, which is what I normally do. I had to bite it and break it apart.

The "surprise" of the meal were the shotglasses full of dessert. We had asked for the dessert menu, and instead the waiter came by with this arrangement of shotglasses of various kinds of desserts ("I'm the dessert boy tonight, can I interest you in a shot?"). There were eight different shots, ranging from PF Changs Great Wall of Chocolate Cake to Carrot Cake.
To satisfy our dessert craving, we chose the Strawberry Cheesecake (shown below) and the Banana Sundae (shown above). For $2 a shot, it was a perfect size to quell the sweet tooth and not have any guilt associated with eating a regular slice of cheesecake or a whole banana split sundae.
All in all, it was a perfect portioned meal. By sharing three appetizers and having these smaller versions of the dessert, we had variety, we felt full and satisfied, and most importantly, we didn't feel like we had to throw up because we stuffed ourselves with too much food.

Next time I'm at PF Changs, I'm totally going to forgo real food and just eat the eight different shots of dessert.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

q-pig rap

My friend told me a funny story about why she changed the name of her blog. Her blog website is just her name, but her whole blog is about her cooking adventures and thus is mostly about food and not really about her (well, I guess her cooking is about her). Anyway, she told me that she initially titled her blog "Hungry Little Asian Girl" but changed it because when she googled that name, the results turned up some "naughty content."
I laughed for quite some time. But then I thought what would happen if I googled my own blog. Well, "pigs in a blanket," "pigsinablanket" and "pigs n blanket" did not list my blog on the first page. Obviously, "pigsnblanket" was a direct hit.
Then I tried "q-pig" and there were many links talking about this stuffed toy pig that raps. Apparently, it was THE toy for Valentines 2008.
There's a video of this q-pig rapping too. It is HILARIOUS!! I could not stop laughing. I don't know if I want the actual pig or the necklace it's wearing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

increase in price on stamps

USPS (and the powers associated with it) is increasing the price in stamps by a penny, effective some time in May.

If you don't believe me, click here and see for yourself.

It's getting more and more expensive to send a letter by snail mail these days. I still remember the days when I was a little girl in Garden City, KS and I only had to pay a quarter for a stamp to send a letter to my penpal in Hawaii. And NO, it was not decades ago (it was only ONE decade).

Sunday, March 02, 2008

family style, the Italian way

I always heard of the Italian Restaurant, Buca di Beppo, but never had a chance to try it out until this past weekend. People warned me that the servings were large, and it was family style eating, but I didn't realize how LARGE the servings were until after we ordered.

Above, is my "side order" of sphaghetti and "side order" of spicy sausage. I refrained from getting the side order of 1/2 pound meatball (the meatballs were HUGE when a waiter walked by with another table's order of the meatballs).

Below, is the "side order" of fetteccini alfredo. I'm putting side order in quotes because according to our waiter, a side order is sufficient for a single serving. It was not, it was twice that. I could have shared my dinner with another person.

Above, the chicken parmeson, which looked really tasty. The couple of the evening were the only ones who was actually eating "family style" because they shared this dish, along with a side of sphaghetti.

Below, the only one at the table to eat dessert ordered the apple crostata. Even dessert was served with the purpose of sharing. Now, if I wasn't cold and hungry for some warm food, I might have eaten a whole dessert myself. We'll have to test that theory out next time.
And the entire time we were eating our giant size meal, C and I were fortunate enough to be seated in front of this picture. Imagine it being larger in size, and just staring at you in the face. It was quite disturbing. It was so hard to try and NOT look at it, that I kept looking at it. *shudders*