Tuesday, December 28, 2010

gingerbread cookies

About a week before Christmas, I attempted to make gingerbread cookies from scratch. I found this recipe, which I thought looked pretty simple, from a Betty Crocker magazine. I got all the ingredients, mixed it together as instructed, and then put it in a ziplock bag to chill in the fridge before rolling the dough for cookie cutters. I noticed that the dough was really runny, which I thought was really odd.

So, as that gingerbread dough was cooling in the fridge, I started on mixing another batch of cookie dough for andes mint chocolate cookies (I was preparing cookie dough to bake an assortment of Christmas cookies for the office). When it came time to add flour to the mix, I realized I was holding in my hand a 1/2 cup measuring cup, and NOT 1 cup measuring cup. Then it clicked and I realized why the gingerbread dough was so runny - I had added only half the required amount of flour as I thought I was using the 1 cup measuring cup when in actuality, I was holding the 1/2 cup measuring cup in my hand. Oh well, so that gingerbread mix went in the trash.

I didn't attempt the gingerbread again. Instead, I was at Williams Sonoma and found this:

gingerbread cookie materials

Gingerbread cookie mix! Just add eggs and butter - who can screw that up, right? I found the pair of gingerbread girl and boy cookie cutters at Crate and Barrel.

As an impromptu purchase, I also bought this fancier cookie cutter set from Williams Sonoma:

another gingerbread cutter

So, on Christmas Eve, all by lonesome in my apartment with the Christmas lights on and the TV blaring "A Christmas Story", I made me some gingerbread cookies.

getting ready for the oven

getting ready for the oven

After the cookies cooled down, I started putting on some expressions on these cute little guys.

happy ginger cookies

And looky at my gingerbread family! =)

Gingerbread People

I picked out all the pretty ones to bring to Christmas Dinner with my roommate's family.

Gingerbread Family

These gingerbread cookies and this apple pie below were a great hit at dinner.

Christmas Apple Pie

And I still have a bag of the "ugly" gingerbread kids (wherein my frosting work wasn't the greatest) sitting on the counter. I can't believe I'm saying this, but no more cookies for me. Well, at least until next year. =)

Monday, December 27, 2010

$0.99 sugar cookies

I was shopping at Trader Joe's and saw stacks of this sugar cookie mix set up in the corner by the free sample stand. Upon closer examination, there was a sign that boasted "Sugar Cookie Workshop - everything you need to make and decorate sugar cookies for 99 cents!"

awesome sugar cookie set

I still didn't believe that this box - which contains three cookie cutters, sugar cookie mix, frosting AND sugar toppings - was selling for a buck a box. So I put a box in my cart and waited to see if it actually checked out for $0.99 (I didn't really care for the sugar cookie mix as I just wanted the cookie cutters). And guess what? It rang up $0.99 at the register! SCORE!

So the next day, I made Christmas sugar cookies with my nifty "Sugar Cookie Workshop" kit!

After mixing the dough and chilling it for at least an hour, it was time to roll out the dough and start using the cookie cutters.

cookie cutters

I found rolling the dough on wax paper was a little tough as the wax paper was rolling along with the dough. I need to get one of these dough rolling mats. Then the cut-out cookie dough went on the pan and into the oven.

all cut out and ready for the oven

The cookies need to cool down A LOT before applying the frosting. So you can kill time by baking more cookies or sampling the ones you think are not in perfect shape (both of which I did).

sugar cookies cooling down and waiting to be frosted

Then you break out the frosting mix, warm it up in the palm of your hands and start squeezing it out. The colored sugar sprinkles were a little hard to get out of the bag because it seemed to be very moist. Fortunately, I had another jar of sugar sprinkles so I used my own instead of the one provided in the box.

edible Christmas tree

It was also a bit difficult piping frosting out of a corner of the small rectangular bag that the frosting came in...

frosting was a bit hard to do

Then you have to let the frosting set, which takes at least two hours. Since I was baking really late into the night, I just left it on the dining table overnight and went to bed.

My cookie production line, all prepared by one production person - me.

Christmas cookies

I made all the cookies so I could bring them to the office. I laid out two full plates of cookies at 9am. By noon, they were all gone. I got no complaints so I guess the cookies were all tasty.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

o christmas tree o christmas tree

I wanted to get a little tree for our apartment, but without a car, I wasn't sure how I'd get one home. I even thought about buying this Charlie Brown tree I saw at Walgreens. Fortunately, I happened to be at a Michaels and they had this cute 4 foot pre-lit tree on sale for $14.99. And it was packed up small enough that I could carry it home (on a train, nonetheless).

And here's my little tree.

my little tree

I LOVE this little, fat penguin glass ornament.  He was the last one on the shelf too.  It was quite funny actually.  I saw the rows of snowman and santas in the same kind of design.  My friend told me to get the snowman and I said, "I only want it if it's a penguin," then voila!  I looked up and there was this lone, little penguin on the top shelf.  And he was 60% off too...score!
another cute little penguin

The picture is dark here, but it's also of a cute, little penguin.  Someone took a simple bell, and decorated it to make the bell look like a penguin with a santa hat.  So cute!  Someone had re-gifted this and gave it to me and these are the kind of re-gifts that I like!
cute little penguin

All lit up!
all lit up

It's so adorable and pretty. It's also quite calming. With the tree lights on and the rest of the house dark, I just sit in front of my pretty, little tree and relax.

Okay, maybe it's time I start going out more...

Saturday, December 04, 2010

thanksgiving grub

Prayer for dinner:

Dear Lord, rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub. Amen.

Deviled Eggs - An hour to boil, peel, slice and mash these things, and it lasted about five seconds on the plate because everyone was grabbing one. I was lucky I got one for myself.
My plate of deviled eggs lasted about 5 seconds.

BBQ Weenies - So good and very addictive. I couldn't eat just one.
BBQ weenies

I made the cranberry sauce! hahaha well, I got it out of the can and put it nicely in a bowl...
cranberry sauce - I made it!

Turkey #1 and Turkey #2 - both were yummy yummy in my tummy tummy.
turkey #1

Mr. Ham was lucky I didn't have any more stomach space for him.
mr. ham

Yams and Potatoes - I love yams.
yams and potatoes

Cornbread Stuffing - More yum.

Pasta Salad - a bit sweet, but still good to eat.
pasta salad

And here's the damage I did at Thanksgiving dinner:
my plate of chow

I actually want some of this food right now. Some mashed potatoes and gravy, and another turkey leg would do well to get me in a food coma right about now.


For all of you readers who have been following me (all three of you), you may have noticed that I've complained about law school a lot and graduated from law school twice (once with a law degree and second with a masters). And then there was all this whining about this miserable right of passage called the California Bar Exam.

Congratulatory or Consolation?

Well, people, I finally did it. After all that bitching and moaning, I passed the hardest bar exam in this country, got sworn in and took three oaths that I will use this newfound power for good not evil, and am now licensed to practice law in the state of California. Whoop dee do!

A big thank you to all my friends and family, who supported me through the years, especially this last month of tears and me threatening to jump off the bridge if I got another fail in addition to the heartache I've been miserable with.  I'm thankful to have such wonderful people who love me and are proud of me.

Now on to the next challenge - finding a real job where I can make use of this license to practice law.  I wonder if the Food Network needs an addition to their in-house counsel...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

speaking of ramen

We started Day 2 of our shopping spree with a breakfast at Ajisen Noodle in Fremont.  Here's our spread:

Bean sprout salad with chili and seaweed sauce.  There was a bit too much mayo-like sauce on this dish for my liking.  Upon further digging, there were also some beef underneath all those bean sprouts.  The beef was tender and it was really good with the chili sauce that the whole salad was drenched in.  Due to my dislike for mayo, I probably won't give this dish another try.
bean sprout salad with seafood and chili sauce

The ramen noodle dishes!  We ordered two and shared.  The first was the handmade bbq pork noodles.  The noodles were handmade, and it was not bbq pork noodles.  The bbq pork was the meat in the noodles.  The bbq pork was very savory with just the right taste of that Chinese bbq pork flavor. 
handmade bbq pork noodles

The second bowl of ramen was the handmade tender ribs noodles.  Ohmygosh how tender these ribs were.  I don't recall any bones in the meat, but if there were, these ribs were fall off the bone tender.  And whatever marinade it was sleeping in was so flavorful. 
handmade tender ribs noodle

The broth of both ramen bowls were the same (well, the same to me anyway), and perhaps it's because of the meats, but the broth was "meaty" for lack of a better word.  I want to say the broth is juicy, but that doesn't make sense since broth is already liquid in itself.  I also loved the mushrooms in the dish.  I believe it was shitake mushrooms - oh how I have such expensive taste.  In any case, these ramen dishes were two thumbs up and I now need to find out where there is a ramen place in SF so I can get me some ramen ramen.

We also had the deep fried tofu.  You would think that all tofu tastes alike and what matters is how it's prepared.  So not true.  I don't know where this tofu came from but it was so delicious.  The texture of the tofu was very smooth when I bit into it and it was like a creamy feeling going down my throat.  It was like eating the dim sum dessert dish of tofu with ginger-sugar sauce over it, except that this fried tofu was savory and not sweet.  I'm craving this dish now that I'm writing about it.
fried tofu

Upon leaving the restaurant, we found this Domo doll on the ground near where we parked the car:
lost domo

YW didn't want it to get run over, so she put it on the top of the car next to hers. I hope it found a home!

moving noodle bowl

After we were done chowing down on yummy dim sum, we headed for the mall. But before I could leave this one-stop-Asian-shop locale, I had to take a video of this giant bowl of ramen noodles that had chopsticks moving the ramen up and down. I found it hilarious because the sign said "Don't Touch" and yet all I wanted to do was touch it.

Without touching, and staring at it for a good two minutes, I figured out how they made it work. Pretty creative!

ABC Dim Sum

This is the first of a few "catch-up" posts as I have been a bit busy with worry about this thing and the Thanksgiving holiday.

So, sometime in early November, I went down to Fremont to do some shopping with YW.  What was supposed to be a day trip turned into a weekend shopping spree with YW and her mother.  It was fun and we got some pretty good deals with our purchases.

And with all that hard work shopping, you gotta feed the tummy!  Before starting our shopping bonanza, we stopped at ABC Seafood Restaurant for some dim sum.  YW is a frequent dining patron here, as she lives close to this place, and thus, this was my first time here.  

dim sum eats

The dumplings consisted of shiu mai - a pork/shrimp combo:
shiu mai

xiao long bao - a Shanghainese dumpling where there is soup inside the dumpling, so you have to put the whole thing in your mouth or risk getting soup being squirted out when you bite:
xiao long bao

ha gow - a shrimp dumpling.
har gao

Then we needed some veggies, well at least this one, which is cailan aka Chinese broccoli.

This is wu gok, or taro cake. It's a savory sweet dish that's also fried!
wu gok

What I like to call the mini version of a BBQ pork bun, but this is not really a bun and it's not doughy. It's a pastry version of the classic pork bun.
cha siu so

We also had some beef rice porridge with fried dough pieces. I think I was quite full by this point.
rice porridge with fried dough

But of course, I had to indulge in my guilty pleasure, the fung chao. I only eat this in the company of Asian friends because most of them non-Asian peeps are grossed out by this dish. More for me!
fung chao

If I had a car, I'd definitely go back to ABC for more of their food. They're also located in a stripmall consisting of all things Asian, so it's like a one-stop shop for any kind of Asian fare as well as groceries, tapioca drinks, cleaners...

Friday, November 12, 2010

ads vs. reality

I came across an interesting article on SFGate today about whether the real food items match what is advertised by the food company.  For instance:

Here's a link to the full blog post with more comparisons.  I'm not that surprised that reality doesn't match the ads, but makes me wonder if there is anything out there that is true to its hype.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

stone korean kitchen

Way back when (in January of this year), I purchased a couple of Groupons for Stone Korean Kitchen because I love Korean BBQ but a dinner for two usually became quite pricy.  Due to busy work/life schedule, I wasn't able to use the Groupon coupon until a couple of weeks ago, and Stone Korean did not disappoint.

A quartet of appetizers:


My dinner date and I wanted to try everything on the menu because the menu descriptions were just that appetizing. After some hemming and hawing, we finally decided on the "ssam for two" in which we could select two proteins and a kind of soup.

ssam for two

Our protein choices included Kalbi


and pork belly, which was so delicious and also deliciously fattening/artery blockade on a plate.

BBQ Pork Belly

We chose the kim chi soup.

kim chee jigae

In addition to these selections we made, there were also two bowls of rice, a mushroom side dish, a plate of lettuce leaves for wrapping and a selection of sauces to top off on our lettuce wraps.  The kalbi was really nice and bbq'ed to just the right tenderness.  I usually like to go to Korean BBQ joints where you can grill the food yourself, but after a long day at work, having the meet already grilled was a good way to end the day.

I still have one more groupon for Stone Korean that I need to use by the end of the year.  But even without the groupon, I might be stopping by again for some happy hour eats.