Thursday, January 15, 2015

Taking on SoCal: January 7th - 8th, 2015

With our month-long winter break coming to an end, a little spontaneity was in order. Let's rewind to last week, a handful of friends and I took on Southern California (at least what we could in two days..). I mean, where else would a bunch of college kids go? After weeks of nonstop work over Christmas and New Years, I was so glad to finally catch a break.

5:00am Wednesday morning, some of us didn't get much sleep, but we were on our way...only to be pulled over an hour and a half later, but our experiences with California police during this trip is a whole other story.

We definitely chose the best time of the year to go to Six Flags. All California students were already back in school so #nolinenoproblem. Nothing beats being able to ride all of the good rides back to back (:. After a good 5 and a half hours of walking up and down the park with little to no sleep, you can bet that we were all pretty tired, but let me tell you, my nap in the car going to dinner was the best 30 minutes of my life. We headed to Korea Town in LA for dinner, and yup, I have never eaten so much Korean BBQ in my life.

From here on out, the rest of our trip was pretty much food, food, and more food...but that's okay, right? Before heading to wherever we were staying (we barely knew at this point), we headed to Milk. I can at least speak for myself when I say that I was so excited to finally try it, and I was so glad that they hadn't run out of Thai Tea ice cream sandwiches yet or else I probably would've cried.

We stayed at a small inn in central LA. It wasn't bad, it wasn't amazing, but it worked. Ya know, college kids on a budget. Just to let you know, 6 people in a one-bed room is completely possible... difficult, but possible. After a bit of sleep, we were onto the next adventure in Little Tokyo.

Our first stop of the day - Curry House. All of us love Curry Zen, here in Vegas, so we had to see how this place stacked up. I ordered tofu curry with minced ground chicken and spinach and garlic rice. It was really good, but my heart still belongs to Curry Zen <3. 

A good friend of mine (hi, Kevin) told me about a macaroon shop in Little Tokyo so naturally, I had to stop by Lette Macaroons to pick some up for my mom. After all that curry, of course we had to get some dessert, and really you can't beat $1 mochi ice cream keke. 

More wandering around Little Tokyo shops and Daiso lead to some unnecessary, yet completely necessary souvenir shopping, because why not splurge a little, right?

Our next adventure took us to Hollywood, a first for me. Did a little sightseeing, a little shopping, and for some reason while the girls were browsing around, the guys decided to buy a made for an interesting car ride to our next stop.

It was already past 6, but Hilary and I definitely couldn't leave LA without finally seeing the ever so popular lights outside of LACMA. So glad to finally be able to cross this off of my non-existent bucket list. 

We definitely didn't want to head back home on an empty stomach, so the search for food began. Our first stop, The Original Ramen Burger to tie us over until we actually decided where to eat. In my opinion, it probably wasn't worth the price, but seeing as we don't have anything like that here in Vegas, I'm glad we tried it. 

We finally decided on Guppy House, and my tummy was pretty satisfied. Actually, I wasn't the only one satisfied, the guys definitely had a good time staring at the good looking waitress lol.

If you thought that was it...nope! One more stop to go and it was Half & Half Tea House, another first for me. Probably wasn't the best idea to get drinks right before the 4-hour drive. By the time we got to Barstow, we all really had to go to the bathroom, but Half & Half was so worth it haha. 

11pm, and we were on our way back home. I'm so glad that we were able to experience so much on this trip in only 2 days, but now with a hole in my wallet, it's time for some R&R at home...just kidding, I had work the next day. It's good to dream though, right?

Until next time, Cali. It's been real.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Recipe: Red Velvet Cookies

One of my favorite cakes...other than chocolate...was always Red Velvet, which is a close cousin of chocolate, if you didn't know. And as per request from a good friend of mine (because apparently I owed her cookies), here's a recipe for  to-die-for Red Velvet Cookies!

Red Velvet Cookies
makes 36 cookies

What you will need:
  • 3 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temp)*
  • 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp red food coloring
  • 2 cup white chocolate chips**
*if using salted butter, omit 1/2 tsp salt
**can substitute with regular chocolate chips or anything you want!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a separate medium-large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (a hand mixer will work fine), cream butter on high until smooth and creamy. About 1 minute. Remember to scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl whenever you need to. 

On medium speed, beat in your granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Then beat in your eggs, milk, and vanilla.

Add your food coloring and mix until there are no longer any streaks of color (or no color) visible. The red color should now be incredibly intense and the dough should still be quite runny, however feel free to add more food coloring to intensify the color even more if you'd like.

Pour in your dry ingredients. With your mixer on low, mix your dough until just combined. You do not want to over mix.

Still on low speed or by hand, mix in your white chocolate chips until thoroughly visible throughout your dough. Your dough will still be rather sticky, so cover the bowl with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for AT LEAST an hour. THIS IS MANDATORY or your dough will be way too soft.

Prepare two baking sheets and line them with either parchment paper or silicon mats. Gather 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Place them on your baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 10-13 minutes.

When you take them out of the oven, they would have only spread just a bit. Using your clean fingers or the back of a spoon and gently flatten them while they are still hot. Also while they're still hot, use some extra white chocolate chips and push them into the top. This gives a little more contrast to the red cookie. Have them cool on the cookie sheet for about 5-10 minutes, then transfer them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

I swear, these are some of the best things I have ever made. They're basically a little cake in cookie form; aka heaven on earth (so my coworker says).'re welcome Hilary <3 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Recipe: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

The weather has been pretty gloomy around here lately. It's wet and rainy, but this is my kind of weather! I know not everyone's crazy about rain showers and the end of summer, but that's okay because I have the perfect pick-me-up. Who doesn't love White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies?!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

makes 24 cookies

You will need:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) *unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped salted macadamia nuts
*If you do not have unsalted butter, it may be substituted with regular butter. However, omit the 1/2 tsp of salt.

Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Cream together your butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffyIt should look something like this. Make sure to use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add your eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix until well combined. Your mixture should loosen up a lot and become runny.

Add your flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. You do not want to over-mix. The dough should start forming right away and on it's own. Once combined, scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl.

Add the white chocolate chips and coarsely chopped macadamia nuts. Fold them in with a rubber spatula until they are thoroughly incorporated within your dough.

Gather two tablespoons of dough into a ball and tear it in half. Place the torn side of one half face down onto your lined cookie sheet, and place the other half on top with the torn side facing up, like shown above. These are rather large cookies so place them about 2 inches apart for spreading.

Bake your cookies for 12-13 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. They will remain puffed up and appear undone when you take them out of the oven. Let them sit on the cookie sheet to cool for 10-15 minutes. The cookies' residual heat will finish off the insides and it will begin to flatten out. Transfer them onto a wire rack to finish cooling (but they taste the best when warm).

Quite a few people have been asking me for these lately, so I'm glad I finally found the time to make them!
The original recipe is not mine and I found it here. However, I did alter the ratios slightly and adjusted the proportions to fit my needs.
This is probably one of my favorite cookies to make and from what I've heard it's a lot of my friend's favorite too hehe.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DIY: Cheap and Easy Watch Stand

Finally, something other than food! (But then again, who doesn't like food...)

I've always liked watches, but they just never fit me! Last winter, when I finally learned how to resize my own watches (possible demonstration in the future?), I realized that there was hope for me and my tiny wrists. Thus, my love for watches flourished.

As my small collection continues to grow, I definitely don't want them scattered around my cluttered desk or stuffed in some box. And who wants to pay $10-$20 for a stand?.. Well for those who are just as cheap and equally eager to make things as I am, here's an easy DIY for you!

DIY Watch Stand (EASY)

What you'll need:
  • CD container
  • Paper towel roll
  • Felt
  • Scizors
  • Fast-drying glue (hot glue gun or E6000 recommended)
*Be cautious of glue fumes. Glue in ventilated area.

Fill the bottom of your CD container with wax or resin to give your base some body and weight. I recommend resin because it isn't as messy and will last longer.

Find the middle of the paper towel roll and cut a hole just big enough to fit the center of the CD container. Cut a little at a time to make sure the hole isn't too big. 

Most CD containers come with a plastic divider; trace and cut out a piece of felt. Cut it a little larger than the disk to ensure you can cover all gaps.

*If you do not have a divider to trace, use a CD or DVD

Glue the plastic divider onto your resin, followed by the felt piece on top. You can see that cutting your felt larger covers the visible resin/wax.

*Thick card stock paper or cardboard can replace plastic divider if needed.

Before covering your pieces in felt, stuff the paper towel roll. Scrap fabric or paper will work just fine. You want the paper towel roll to be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of your watches/accessories. Tape off the open ends to make gluing the end circles of felt easier. I recommend cutting the hole into the felt after covering the paper towel roll.

Cover the rest of pieces. Have all your seams at the back of your stand.

Put glue on the top of the CD container and insert it into the hole and hold firmly for a couple of minutes. Glue around the outside to make sure it is secure. Allow your stand to stand upright for 10-20 minutes to completely set.

At this point, your easy DIY watch stand is complete! But of course, you can always take it to the next level...

Decorating is the best part! Let your creativity run wild. I had some decorative ribbon lying around from a previous DIY and decided to use the rest of it for some simple embellishments. It really does make a difference!

And NOW you're done!

Since the materials used in this DIY are merely scraps found around the house, it won't always be very stable, especially with heavy watches and jewelry. So I recommend trying to balance the weight on both sides.
This DIY was really cheap and easy, and as my collection grows, perhaps I'll make another DIY that accommodates to more! Until then, here are a few of my favorite watches at the moment:

I really had a lot of fun making this and I hope to soon expand on this as well as expand my collection. Here's to more future DIYs!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recipe: The Best Banana Bread Ever

It's been a long time coming, but I'm back again with a not-so-new recipe. Everyone has had banana bread at least once in their life, and I've come across countless recipes, but there could only be one winner.

Banana Bread

makes 2 loaves

You will need:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temp.)
  • 4 eggs (room temp & beaten)
  • 6-7 (very ripe) bananas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
*TIP: The riper the bananas, the better!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 2x4x8 loaf pans by coating them with butter/oil and dusting them with flour.

In a large bowl, mash your bananas. Breaking them up into small pieces makes the process a little faster and easier. I like using a fork, but if I'm in a hurry, I break out the potato masher...go big or go home!

The end result is basically a huge vat of banana guts. It is going to be a little chunky, but try to avoid super large chunks. You don't want wet spots in your banana bread. 

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand electric mixer, cream your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add your bananas and beaten eggs and mix well. At this point your batter will look a little curdled (but it's not, don't worry it's just the bananas). In another separate bowl, sift together your flour, baking soda, and salt and mix into your batter, but just until incorporated. You do not want to over mix!!!

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Tap each pan on a flat surface a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Test the banana bread with a tooth pick or skewer. Don't worry if it is still a little wet near the surface, that can happen since there are so many bananas in this recipe.

When finished baking, place pans on a wire rack for about 10-20 minutes or until they are cool enough to touch.

Once cool enough, use a butter knife or spatula to help flip the loaves out of the pans to finish cooling completely on the wire rack. (This batch's center, as you can see, remained a little wet, which is why this little crater formed while cooling.)

My dad has had this recipe for years, ever since we still lived in San Francisco ten years ago, and we have still yet to find another that has even come close to competing with ours. If you don't believe me, you're just going to have to try it for yourself!