February 16, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Valentines Day gets a lot of hate, you know?  I get the arguments.... "It's a product of Hallmark", "More like single awareness day!", and the one that probably rings the most truth: "Why show your love on only one day of the year?"  While Valentine's day can sometimes get us down, let's just take it for what it is.  A little overdone cheesy love stuff for everyone to celebrate.  Let me tell you, I had my fill this year when I had to frost one heart shaped cake after another at work and am now probably getting carpal tunnel from holding my offset spatula.  Even so, cheesy heart shaped things are cute.  There's no getting around it.  I'm bringing you an easy way of showing your love more than one day a year!  Homemade peanut butter cups!  I made them for my valentine, hence the heart shape.  But you can make these in any shape you want.  Show your loved ones you care on a day other than February 14!  Impress the pants off of them!  They don't know these are super easy!

Step 1: Figure out what you are putting them in.  You can use cupcake tins and liners, or the mini versions.  I lucked out and already had this heart shaped silicone ice tray from IKEA.  The silicone helps because you can move it around to unmold your chocolates.  I think IKEA still has them.  Super cheap!
Step 2:  Melt your chocolate in a double boiler, or in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time so the chocolate doesn't seize.  I used a mixture of milk and semi-sweet chocolate.  Use what you prefer in peanut butter cups.  The whole time I was making these I was only thinking about the Milk Chocolate PB Cups from Trader Joes.  If you haven't had them, get up, leave, and go buy some.  Seriously I don't even love chocolate and peanut butter together, but those get me every time.

Step 3:  Brush your chocolate on the bottom and sides of your molds.  Make sure it covers the whole bottom and there are no holes.  Freeze until the chocolate hardens.
Step 4:  Mix peanut butter with powdered sugar.  Add some honey or vanilla if you so choose. 

Step 5:  Take out your chocolate molds.  Pipe peanut butter mixture or use a small spoon to fill molds with peanut butter a little less than all the way full. 
Step 6: Cover peanut butter filled molds with chocolate. 
Step 7:  Scrape off excess.  Touch up any areas where you can still see peanut butter.  Freeze again until hard.

Step 8:  Unmold your peanut butter cups!  Enjoy!  Share with your loved ones!

October 18, 2012

Forgive Me

I've done a bad/awesome thing.  I've made ice cream.  But not just any ice cream....
This ice cream doesn't mess around.  It's not trying to be something it's not.  It is straight up baller and knows it.  It doesn't even need to be turned into a milkshake to bring the boys to the yard.  Lil Wayne would rap about this ice cream.
Ok enough.  I'm ridiculous.  BUT. GET. THIS.
Cookie Dough flavored ice cream (no dough involved) + NUTELLA + Crunchy Cocoa Cinnamon Granola! 
Please re-read.  If you aren't on the same page as me on this, no need to read beyond this point. 

Here's what happens.  You make granola, and coat it in cocoa, cinnamon, and all the good things in the world, i.e. butter, maple syrup, and honey.  After you cook it, you let it cool.  Then you toss in some chocolate chips.
You make a custard base with brown butter and brown sugar for flavor.  You chill it.  Then you throw it in the ice cream maker.   When it's almost frozen, you sprinkle it with your granola and drizzle it with (large) scoopfuls of nutella. 
You eat it immediately and you do a dance with your hands because it is so good.  You are almost mad that you haven't made this before and almost mad that you will have this in your recipe book from here on out.  Forgive me on not letting you live before this date.  Forgive me for the massive amount of ice cream in your future.

October 3, 2012

Emotional Baking

I've come to realize I am an emotional baker.  Not like, I am a baker, and I am emotional (like my boyfriend pointed out much to my chagrin).  I mean that when I'm in heightened emotional states, my therapy is to bake.  See examples below.

When I'm frustrated with my job, I make pizza concotions. 
This one was brussels sprouts, bacon, and carmelized onions.  Then I do my best to not let us eat it all in one sitting.  Then I fail. 
When I'm trying to show my love, I make pie.  Either it's an "I'm in the Doghouse" pie.  Or, a "Hey, We All Love Each Other and Let's Eat Pie Together" pie.  Add tea.
Recently, it was a "Sometime's I'm a Dipshit" Banana Cream Pie with a fudgy "I'm Sorry" Ganache.  It turned into a "Let's Eat this for Every Meal" Pie.   I threw in some mini peanut butter cream tarts for good measure. 

When I'm angry, bread is the best medicine.  Kneading is therapeutic.  Really.  When angry tears come, all I want to do is knead the crap out of some dough.  Solution: Pretzels.
You can't go wrong.  You get to knead out your problems.  Then you when you are more composed you get to reflect for an hour while your dough rises (perhaps with a cocktail).  Then you get to focus on something else, like rolling and shaping them into perfect, twisted, salty morsels. 

And when I'm homesick and starting to get burned out from working two jobs, I make my mom's chex mix.
Then I eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  And snack.  And dessert?
Turns out, baking and cooking are how I relieve stress and sometimes how I express my feelings.  I'd have to say turning my frustration into creating something in the kitchen is a pretty healthy way for me to handle everything.  Although the heightened carb intake that comes after this therapeutic creating is likely not so healthy in the long run.  Such is life!

Want some recipes??
For the pizza, similar is here from Tracy at shutterbean.com.
For the pie, I adapted mine from the Williams Sonoma book Home Baked Comfort.  I'll post this later.
Pretzels. YUM!
Chex Mix is as follows!

16 cups of your favorite chex (I did 5 cups wheat, 5 cups rice, 6 cups corn)
2 cups pretzels (If my sister had her choice, she would omit these.  I use about 1.5 cups)
2 cups peanuts (I omit these because I don't like them much)
1 stick of butter
3 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
7 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.    Stick your butter on the pan you are cooking in and stick it in the oven as it is warming until it melts.  Pull out your pan, add the seasoned salt and worcestershire, and stir.  Add all of your chex.  Toss to coat.  Throw the pan in the oven for an hour, rotating chex every 15 minutes.  Add pretzels and peanuts after a half an hour. Let cool and try to keep your paws off of them!  I usually eat them while they are hot because I can't resist.

June 29, 2012

Dos and Don'ts of Champagne Brunch

I take champagne brunch seriously.  I don't schedule anything else for the rest of the day, because I know I will likely want to take a nap post champagne campaign.  I've been getting better at handling myself in an all you can drink champagne brunch.  My first time I may or may not have ended up hugging the toilet.  Graphic, I know,  but I've progressed, at least a little.

Here are some Dos and Don'ts that I've learned along the way:

DO hydrate the day before and during the hours before.  It'll make things better later.
DON'T take shots after. ARE YOU INSANE?

DO find a place that will keep the bubbly coming for a reasonable price.  I love Overland Cafe in Los Angeles because it's only $4.99 on top of your meal!
DON'T be picky about the quality of champagne.  No big.  You're going to have a headache in the end anyway.

DO maintain composure while waiting in the bathroom line after 4 cups of mimosas.  Pacing or dancing is welcomed, but hopefully you are the only one in line.
DON'T get locked out of your house when you have had 8 cups of mimosas.  Drunken landlord conversations are not fun, especially when you can't stop moving because you have to pee so bad.

DO take public transportation or walk!  Preferably take the bus to the beach after.
DON'T have a designated driver lock his keys in the car.  Also don't pass out on the lawn while waiting for AAA to come get the keys out.

DO have great conversations and play games with your friends when you have a two hour time slot to drink.
DON'T try to race someone who can easily drink you under the table.  You will win, but the end result may not be worth it. But still, winning does feel good.

DO Host your own!  Potluck brunch and homemade mimosas are highly encouraged.  Make quiche!
DON'T say no to life!  Don't stay home because you want to get things done on a Sunday.  Champagne brunch is great, but the company is even better!

June 25, 2012

Easy as Pie

I have friends that don't know idioms.  Or maybe they don't know western idioms.  They are both Taiwanese and grew up in Asian households. One night there was a competition between the two of them.  An "Idiom Off" so to say.  One of them would take a turn and say, "The grass is greener on the other side!" and the next would reply "Better safe than sorry!". Probably after 5 comical and struggling rounds of this, it soon became me whispering into my friend's ear and another more "westernly cultured" friend whispering into the competitor's ear.  After a few more rounds I leaned over and whispered, "Easy as pie" only to be met by a harsh face of doubt and hesitation to say it out loud.  "That's NOT one!"... "Haha hey everyone, Kalen says, 'Easy as pie' ppfffftt!" ....then everyone else responded yelling "THAT IS ONE!!!!"
Easy as pie.  Apparently the easy is referring to the eating of the pie, and not the making.  It makes sense.  Pie is easy to eat.  I don't think you meet a lot of people that don't like pie.  When someone doesn't like cake, they definitely like pie.  When someone isn't that into sweets, they still like fruit pies.  Pie is inherent in our nature  (Go with it).  Who says no to eating pie? 
Turns out, I love making pie.  I know pie crust can be woeful, but I can now make a good pie crust in a jiffy.  I've figured out I really enjoy cutting cold butter into flour.   It's therapeutic.  Cheesy, I know.  But really, pie can be easy to make and eat.  It just crust, rolling, fruit, sugar and spice, a thickener, some butter, more rolling, and pinching. Easy as pie! 
Baking in my mom's kitchen is so nice.  Everything is open and organized and fancy as compared to my tiny apartment kitchen.  When I was home we BBQed some steaks, had some caipirinhas, and had an impromptu game night with some old friends.  We had bought rhubarb the day before because I had never baked with it and was curious.  So before we sat down to games, I threw a strawberry rhubarb pie together and popped it in the oven.

The pie was easy!  I swear!  It was also really easy to eat it.  Almost too easy because we couldn't even wait until it was cool enough to slice it.  The tartness of the rhubarb was complemented perfectly by the sweet farmer's market strawberries.  Because of the heat, it hadn't thickened all the way, but it was still delicious.  Go figure, pie is awesome in every form.

June 19, 2012

Summer Bucket List

It's been awhile since I've posted.  Things have happened.  I've been busy trying to get started on the BEST SUMMER EVER.  It's silly, but my friends and I have all decided this is THE one.  That is, until next year.

Summer starts tomorrow, June 20, I know.  But in Los Angeles it feels like it has been here for weeks.  I remember being a kid and in May, everything changed.  More things were going on after school, more slurpee runs happened, and the air was charged with the excitement of the fun to come.  I'm pretty sure this still happened this year.  From January to April, all of my friends and I had crazy schedules and we weren't seeing each other as much.  But all of the sudden, come May, we're going to happy hours on Monday nights that spontaneously last until 1 AM.  We are having beach days and potluck brunches.

I'm not sure if it's us getting older, or us starting to get afraid that we all won't be in the same place for long, but we keep talking about making this the BEST SUMMER EVER.  I'm not following the calendar, so I'm going to make this summer go from April to October.  That's basically how it feels anyway right?

Let's talk about things that have happened or that are on my bucket list for this summer.
Bake Sale!  It was a success!  I made frosted sugar cookies, black bottom cupcakes, red velvet cakes in mason jars, and mini apple pies. It was stressful, but I had help from my sister, her friends, and our friends: gin and tonic.
GRILLED CHEESE FEST.  It was my third attendance.  Every time I love it.  Every time I leave thinking why I ate so many grilled cheese samples.  Glorious all in all. 
I want a lot of this to happen this summer.  Every time I have one of these bags of spicy juicy fruit in my lap, I feel like swinging my feet around and doing dances with my hands.  I LOVE spicy mango and pineapple.  They are a sign that summer is HERE.
I've been infusing alcohol.  It started with cucumber vodka and grapefruit vodka.  Of the vodkas I've done, they are probably my favorite.  I made jalapeno tequila.  Mind blow.  See below.  I also want to try pineapple rum and to start dabbling in bourbon and whiskey.  Found: one vanilla cardamom infused bourbon recipe here.
I want to drink as many spicy cocktails as I humanly can.  I've been obsessed with chile infused drinks and my friend and I have been ordering them wherever we go.  I took a stab at it on cinco de mayo with a blood orange jalapeno margarita.  I think the best one I've had so far is at the Corner Door.  Their Miner Incident: bourbon, honey, apricot, lemon, and Thai chiles is bonkers.  Don't eat the chile garnish though.  I am a beast with spicy stuff, and I was coughing and suffering because I thought I could do it.  The shame!
More popsicles. Whole fruit ones.  Coconut chunks.  I think yes.
I want more beer floats to happen.  Ice cream and beer.  Enough said.
Spontaneous lazy board game Sundays are always welcome.  Mostly I just like hanging out with friends in my pajamas.  Quirkle, Bananagrams, Spoons, and Uno are added bonuses.

More things that are on my bucket list this summer? Reading. Excessive amounts of sundresses. French-bulldog sitting? (i need to make friends with someone who has a frenchie that goes out of town all the time!) Picnics. Palm Springs. Night bowling. And keeping up with this dang blog!

Happy Summer!

April 26, 2012

Food Blogger Bake Sale!!!!

What are you doing this weekend? 
Personally, this weekend is set out to be pretty epic for me. Let's talk details.

1. I'm going to the Girlled Cheese Festival. You heard it!  It exists and I am going and eating as many cheese and carb conglomerations as I can.

2.  I'm going to a birthday party where at the same party last year someone I did not know who was wearing a metallic blazer bought everyone at the party 3 rounds of shots.  Needless to say, I'm a little nervous.

3.  At 8 AM the day after said Cheese Fest and said party I am running a 5K.  This could be dangerous and painful. 

4.  Most Importantly!  I am going to and participating in the Los Angeles Food Blogger Bake Sale!!!!
Come join me on Saturday, April 28th from 11:30AM to 2:00PM at BLD Restaurant (7450 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036) to support Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale for the No Kid Hungry Campaign.
Everything is donation based and there are a lot of talented bakers that will be attending, so you will be able to score some awesome goodies!  It is a fun event for a good cause so come join us!

and yes, that means I'm running a 5K after copious baked goods and grilled cheese, and with a possible hangover.  We'll see how this goes.  Overall, I'm excited!