Tuesday, March 30, 2010

cookie scooper ease

I love kitchen gadgets, even if there really isn't a need for the gadget.  For example, you can easily use your hands and fingers and two spoons to scoop out cookie dough onto a cookie sheet, but this process can sometimes leave your hands messy because you have to use your fingers to dig out the cookie dough from the spoons if the dough refuses to separate from the spoon.  Or, you can just use a cookie scoop -- one handed operation and keeps the hands cookie dough free!

The cookie scooper

I made this purchase a month ago, but haven't had a chance to actually use it.  I was really excited when I bought it.  And I was even more excited to give it a test run.  As mentioned above, I usually use two spoons to eyeball out a tablespoon of cookie dough.  Sometimes I would just use the tablespoon measuring spoon to measure out the dough, but in that scenario, the cookie dough usually got stuck in the measuring spoon.

cookie dough

For this test run, I decided to make coconut chocolate chip cookies because 1) I like coconut and chocolate chips, and 2) I had plenty of both in the cupboard that I needed to use up.  I used the recipe for mint-chocolate chip cookies, and obviously substituted the coconut for the mint.  And though this cookie dough looks really yummy, I still will not eat cookie dough.  Ever.  It's all just ewww.

look ma, no sticky hands!

Anyways, the cookie scoop worked like a charm. I was able to take a picture with one hand and scoop out cookie dough with the other!

cookie scoop = efficiency and ease

uniform scoops makes uniform cookies

And, after the baking was done, I got mostly uniform sized cookies.  Looks so pretty!

mostly uniform in size

But, cookie scoop or not, same size pretty cookies or not, these cookies were definitely yummy in the tummy.  I think there's only a few left, and I made two dozen last Friday! =)

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday, March 28, 2010

beautiful orchids

We spent a really quick thirty minutes at the National Botanical Garden and here are some of my favorite pictures of the beautiful orchids I took.  I wish I had a house full of orchids!

Malaysian food

The roomie and I had dinner at Penang last weekend.  I had this groupon coupon for $35 worth of food at Penang and I only paid $15 for the coupon.  Our bill ended up to be around $45, so minus the $35 coupon and our total was $10!  $25 for dinner for two is pretty good.

Penang is a Malaysian restaurant in the Dupont Circle area of DC.  It's actually not that far from GWU either.  The place had a very nice atmosphere and it wasn't very busy, especially for a Sunday evening.  They have a pretty extensive menu and the prices are pretty decent too.

Here's what we ended up getting for dinner:

Sayur Poh Piah -- Vegetarian Eggrolls -- and Malaysian Iced Tea (kinda like Thai ice tea but a zillion times sweeter because there was a bunch of sugar in it).
Sayur Poh Piah & Malaysian Iced Tea

Mee Gorang -- pan fried noodles with tofu.
Mee Gorang

Tofu Mango -- fried tofu sauteed with bell peppers and mangos in a spicy sauce. This was my favorite!
Tofu Mango

I will definitely go back to Penang to try out some other items on the menu!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

cake decorating, for real this time

Remember way back when I decorated my friend's wedding cake back in the day (before law school happend and all?  wow, that was eons ago!)?  Well, I just recently attended a real, beginner's class for cake decorating.  I sure could have used all this information back then...

The class was provided by CulinAerie in DC.  A few of us were taking it and we had a pretty fun time eating all the cake trimmings and licking off the icing as we were decorating (okay, maybe that was just me).  I felt a little rushed, though, as the instructor spent most of the time demonstrating and didn't allott very much time for us students to decorate our own cakes.  Though, I know if I had the time to practice, I think my piping would get a little better.

Well, let me just give you a photo show and tell:

Here are the materials presented to us at the start of class: pre-baked cakes, frosting, jam, spatula, knives, etc.
tools of the trade

The piping tips (clockwise from back right): star tip, small hole, big hole, petal tip (yes, my names are very professional):
piping tips

Step 1: Level the cake.
leveling the cake

Step 2: Making a ring of icing so the jam filling doesn't make the cake turn into the shape of a tire:
icing ring for filling

Step 3: Adding the second layer of cake.
layering and trimming

Step 4:  Putting on the crumb coat, and then chilling it so that your icing doesn't have cake crumbs in it.
crumb coat icing

Step 5:  While the crumb coated cake was chilling, we were practicing our piping.  The top row are rosettes, and then I tried to do a line with the star-tipped, but it didn't turn out so well...
piping practice

Step 6:  Icing the cake.  If you zoom in on the picture, you can see that there are still some cake crumbs on the icing...
fully iced cake

Step 6:  Decorating the cake.  I attempted to use an icing comb for the side of the cake.  As you can see here, it didn't work out too well.  I'm not sure if it's because I didnt' have enough icing on the sides, or if I trimmed too much cake off and it was smaller than the cake board.
attempt at using an icing comb

Since I couldn't use the icing comb properly, I decided to just add almost slices to the side.  Looks even better, I think!
almond crusted side

And here is my finished cake!  The yellow things are supposed to be daffodils and the red blobs are supposedly some rosebuds...the red blob with the yellow center is just my interpretation of a red daisy. 
Finished Cake!

Here is L's cake - very simple yet very pretty!
This is S's cake -- So cute and colorful!

And this is J's cake, chocolate buttercream flowers were delicious!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

white house sundae challenge

Before you wonder why you didn't see any official notice about any White House Sundae Challenge, let me explain that this was a personal challenge from me for us (me and two friends) to eat a ginormous ice-cream sundae at Giffords Ice-Cream & Candy Co.  Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

After a long day of walking around another Smithsonian (separate post to follow) and around the national botanical gardens, my companions and I decided to take an ice-cream break.  CG just wanted a milk shake, AL wanted a scoop or two, and the shop was having $2 scoop happy hour.  I was looking at the sundae menu and my eyes immediately lit up and excited I exclaimed to the others: "We HAVE to get the White House Sundae!!!"  They asked what it was and I explained that it was the biggest sundae they offered and the three of us could totally take on six scoops of ice-cream.  It took a little pressuring, but CG and AL finally caved in to my request for the White House Sundae.

"What is the White House Sundae?" you ask?  Well, it's six GINORMOUS scoops of ice-cream, four toppings, all covered in whip cream and cherries on top.  Yeah, sounds like a lot, and it was a lot.  Here are pictures of the entire process of The White House Sundae Madness, from beginning to the very last drop:

This nice lady didn't even know what the White House Sundae was or that it was even on the menu.  But she was curious to see the other guy make our giant sundae.
Making the giant sundae

He needed some strong muscles to get our six scoops of ice-cream.  Each "scoop" was like four regular scoops.
piling on the ice cream

Our choice of flavors for the ice-cream: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, caramel apple, roasted coconut and mint chocolate chip.
six ginormous scoops of ice cream

Our choice of toppings: swiss sauce, caramel sauce, strawberry sauce, and peanuts.  All the ice-cream and toppings were then topped off with a ton of whip cream, and then cherries make it complete.
The White House Sundae

And the eating begins!

digging in

making a dent

making progress

getting down to the bottom

As we were eating it, the nice old lady at the counter kept bringing us more candy and even a bowl of sugar cone bits.  She probably thought we were slowing down in our eating efforts and needed some more sugar to boost.
even more toppings were given to us

Adding sugar cone pieces in to finish off.

All gone!

Surprisingly, CG and I both felt fine afterwards.  AL, however, felt a bit sick and said she needed some substance food in her belly.  So we went for a little walk down to a pub and she had some potato soup and bread.  I think it helped settle down her belly full of ice-cream.

I so totally want to do the White House Sundae challenge again.  Perhaps I'll even try to eat it myself next time... =)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

cheesecake factory goodness

I've been battling a really bad cold/cough for the last week or so, and was feeling a teensy bit better yesterday.  Well, okay, better enough to actually start eating real food again.  So AL and I went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch and we discovered some new goodies on the menu (or at least we haven't seen these items on the menu since the last time we each were at the Cheesecake Factory).

Sliders with fries and pickles

Mini-Corn Dogs -- These were soooo cute!

Fried Mac & Cheese

Not a favorite of mine since there were onions in the mac & cheese and I hate onions.

Banana Cheesecake

Of course we had to have a slice of cheesecake to end our meal with.  AL had to cut the slice down the middle to ensure that she didn't catch any of my germs. 

Don't know if this was good food to have while getting over a cold, but it was yummy food in the tummy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

blta and curly fries goodness

On my last day of my spring break in SF, The Boy and I visited our favorite, local eatery, Toast, for some lunch.

Toast Eatery

I'm always conflicted between choosing the Nutella Madness (stack of pancakes loaded with bananas & nutella) and the B.L.T.A. (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avacado sandwich). I wanted something savory this time so I went with the B.L.T.A. and substituted for curly fries.

BLTA & Curly Fries

Do I know how to take a picture of food or what?


Looks so good, I want to eat it again!


The Boy ordered his usual Breakfast Burrito:

Breakfast Burrito

Yeah, not as exciting...

Breakfast Burrito

And they sell t-shirts too:

Toast T-Shirts

Notice the wider length photos? I just discovered the "wide" feature on my camera. Who knew my camera could take wide length photos?  I have to play around with the features more often.