Long hiatus, I know! I haven’t really found the time or energy in the last few months to grab a new recipe to try. There’s been a lot of holidays, birthdays, graduations, helping my sister move out, a weekend visiting LA friends, summer concerts, and of course, catching up with all the TV shows. I’m not really sure where May and June went after my vacation in April! And speaking of vacation, I’m pretty excited for two weeks in the motherland with my sister in the fall. So I’ll try to blog about that when I get back =)
Now, I really don’t have anything significant to blog about, but I thought I’d just share a very simple, healthy, and delicious avocado shake recipe to get back in the swing of things. Had lunch with my neighbor today, and she nudged me to blog a little more. HAHA….so this is for you Christine. ;) Continue reading
I haven’t had time to bake in awhile, but that’s because I was busy planning my trip to Arizona and traveling! This is my first travel blog post and I wasn’t planning on blogging it, but a couple people have been asking me for some travel tips to Arizona so this seemed like a good idea. Since I spent quite some time planning and researching, I thought I’d share the knowledge. Not sure when road tripping to Arizona became a popular thing, but I definitely recommend it now!
We decided to plan a mini vacay in AZ since our friends were getting married in Scottsdale. Might as well make good use of the flight out there if we were going to head out that way anyway. Apparently, Scottsdale is the “Beverly Hills of Arizona” as the bride described, and I saw it ranked as #4 on a list of top 100 best places to live in the U.S.! That being said, it was our final destination.
Here’s the general itinerary overview:
Day 1–Fly into Flagstaff, AZ and drive up to Grand Canyon (1.5 hrs). Check out sunset and some rim trails. Sunset supposed to be good at Hopi and Pima points, or if you want to drive farther out–Desert View or Lippan Point. Due to snow, we ended up just going to Yavapai Geology Museum for a quick look before dusk.
Day 2–Caught sunrise in the canyon at Mather point. Explored the blue and red lines. Really enjoyed Maricopa Point. Drove up to Page, AZ (3 hours) and stopped by Desert View Watchtower on the way up. Got to Page around 3pm and caught the 3:30pm tour for Ken’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. (Probably the highlight of my trip!) After the sandstone canyons, trekked up to Horseshoe Bend to catch the sunset. A-mazing and super exhausting but fun day!
Day 3–Drove down to Sedona (3 hours). Took lots of pictures of red rocks. Chilled in downtown for lunch. Did the Cathedral Rock Hike. Took more pictures of red rocks. Got awesome dinner at Elote. RELAXED at our hotel.
Day 4–Visited Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Frank Lloyd Wright partnered design. Drove down to Scottsdale (2 hours). Checked out Cornish Pasty Co for lunch (yum!) and partay-ed at a wedding!
If you read more, I’ll break down the itinerary in more detail, along with some recommendations, pictures, and good travel tips!
I first tried this banana pudding at a Yelp Elite Christmas event back in 2010, and Magnolia Bakery had set up a booth offering samples of their many delicious bakery items. Everyone was all “Oo cupcakes!!” And I just rolled my eyes because cupcakes are slightly overrated. But then my friend handed me a sample cup of their banana pudding, and I almost died before I rushed back to pick up seconds and ask what this heavenly stuff was. I’m pretty sure I never had a good banana pudding before this, or let alone tried banana pudding before this because honestly..it sounds kinda mushily gross. But that night changed my views on banana pudding forever.
Then, I stumbled upon the actual store in Beverly Hills one random yet glorious day, and I immediately halted all activities and semi-demanded that we had to pull over for the banana pudding. My sister, who was visiting, looked at me like I was crazy, and our other friends driving thought I had lost it too. Parking on 3rd is a freaking nightmare, but they were converted believers after that day too!
This delightful treat is apparently very simple to make and appears in the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, as presented by the witty Kristan at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. I found her post to be hilarious to read and insightful with tips, so credits to her. And thanks for making this recipe public knowledge, Magnolia Bakery!
When I finally visited Hawaii for the first time in 2012 after graduating, I caved and bought a musubi maker from the musubi shop that we visited 4 times in our 5 night stay. Pretty impressive, huh? I took my parents a few times when we visited in 2013 too. If you haven’t been here yet, the next time you’re in Honolulu, definitely check out Iyasume Musubi which is close to the Sheraton. Their spam and egg musubi is my absolute favorite! So, seeing as many of my friends are on vacation in Hawaii recently, I guess a sudden overwhelming desire to eat spam overcame me and I decided to finally dig out my musubi maker and make some!
There are many variations on how you can fry your spam, the sauce, how to make egg/tamago, etc. To be honest, I rather just pay my $2.28 and get one from Iyasume. But alas, it is an ocean away, so I’ll suck it up and try to make these at home for now until the next time I can go. This was also my first time buying Spam, and geez why is Spam so expensive?! I don’t want to know what they put in there, but man..I must be paying for the crazy preservatives or something. Anyway..I decided to appease my stomach despite the health freak in the back of my mind reprimanding me because spam musubi is kind of delicious in the way that all junk food is so bad and so good at the same time. Oxymorons exist.
Apparently, good vanilla cupcakes from scratch are hard to come by. I have actually never made them from scratch before because let’s be honest..box mixes are simple, cheap, and practically foolproof! However, I wanted to give this a try from scratch. So I started researching recipes and eventually settled on one for Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Cupcakes because I love Magnolia Bakery! The original one is in New York, but I used to frequent the one in Beverly Hills. Sadly, I ran into a few hiccups and cannot honestly say I loved this, but I learned a few lessons from it to be applied next time and I think I’d give it another trial.
I have a lot of Hawaiian influences in my life, oddly enough. And it’s not a bad thing. People from Hawaii are really awesome and some of the most hospitable people I know and love! From my college best friend to my coworkers and bosses to friends I’ve met throughout my college and grad school years, I’ve subconsciously assimilated to a lot of Hawaiian culture, idiosyncratic lingo, and food, of course!
Butter Mochi is one of those things that I learned to love from my Hawaiian friends. I had forgotten completely about this chewy delicious dessert until someone at work brought it to a potluck and I decided I needed to learn how to make it! The best kind is when it’s chewy and “Q” (as my Taiwanese peoples would say) in the center and crunchy on the browned edges from the pan.
The recipes I researched are really quite simple. Some recipes call for more egg or different variations of milk, but I went with something simple to start with and something that wouldn’t leave me with extra ingredients that I’d have to dig up another recipe in order to dispose of it. I hate wasting ingredients! Try this out for an easy and delicious dessert, and don’t let the name disconcert you! It has as much butter as a batch of chocolate chip cookies. So if you’re okay with that, you’ll live with this for sure. I’d be hard pressed to find someone to tell me they don’t like butter mochi!
A good friend of mine saw these adorable cheesecakes on Pinterest two years ago and asked if I would bake them with her. Naturally, I was excited to and we had a lot of fun making them. AND they were delicious! This year I wanted to make them again since I have more free time now and the cheesecake is actually quite delicious!
As I was about to start baking, my wonderful boyfriend pulled out one of his Valentines’ Day gifts to me and I was shocked to see a beautiful shiny powder blue KitchenAid Mixer!! Two days early but what perfect timing since it would help mix the cream cheese and sugar so much more efficiently! You don’t need a fancy stand mixer for this recipe, though. A regular hand mixer will work too. It’s just that I have been notorious for mixing everything by hand when possible and I may have done it here.
The recipe is actually simple enough and very easy to make. It’s the execution that can be tedious, but I find it fun! Be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting. This could be a two-day project if you don’t have time to spare. I did laundry in between..!