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Monthly Archives: December 2011

All day baking away…

As I write this, 2011 is less than 6 hours away from transitioning into 2012. I can’t think of a better way to spend the last day of the year than to do one of my favorite things: baking.

I’d already planned to bake today, because tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, and, well, of course I’m going to volunteer to make the cake. But then I got an invite to a New Year’s get-together at my friend’s house, so… Hello! Ding, ding ding… Another excuse to bake.

I’d come across a recipe for champagne cupcakes a few days ago and had been dying to try it ever since. I figured my friend’s party would be the perfect occasion to try it out.

Anyone detect a red flag here?

I’m pretty sure there’s a saying somewhere about not serving something you’ve never made or tasted before to others. If not, there should be a saying like that, because as it turns out, the cupcakes ended up being terrible. Rock hard, slightly burnt top, just completely unworthy of being toted to a party. Seriously, I was not going to hang my hard-fought-for baking reputation on these!

Thing is, I was desperate. I’d already said I was going to bring champagne cupcakes, so one way or another, I was going to bring some. Luckily, I came across this recipe, and much to my relief, I had all the ingredients on hand. Ok, game on.

I whipped up a new batch and I’m happy to report that they turned out much better. I even made a few substitutions that ended up tasting quite nice: I used coconut oil instead of butter, and buttermilk instead of sour cream. I must say, I was very happy with how the substitutions worked out.

Champagne cupcakes

Anyone fancy a little bubbly?

Having averted a champagne cupcake disaster, I now had to move on to my dad’s birthday cake. At first, I was going to make another batch of champagne cupcakes; I was so happy about making a good batch that I wanted to see if I could recreate the magic. But it is my dad’s birthday, and I wanted to make him something that I knew he’d want to eat. This led me to the decision to make his favorite cake: a mocha cake, in the style of Goldilocks, a Filipino bakery.

Every Filipino is familiar with the famous Goldilocks mocha cake; it’s just so iconic. It’s a coffee-flavored chiffon cake that’s light and spongy and oh-so-good. I think my dad loves it so much that it might have even been the cake that my parents had at their wedding. I’d made it for his birthday a few years ago, but sadly, overmixed it, and it ended up coming out way too dense. Boo. I was determined to redeem myself this year.

I used the same recipe that I used before, but this time, I was careful not to mix it too much–just enough to get all of the egg whites folded into the cake batter. We’ll see later tonight when we cut into the cake if I succeeded this time around. I sure hope so. I confess, I did do a little touch test earlier to see if the cake bounced back when I pressed on it; I’m happy to say that it did spring back, so that is a good sign indeed.

Mocha cake

Think Goldilocks has a reason to quake in its boots?

And with that, I will now sign off for the last time this year. Back with more food chatter in 2012! Happy, Happy New Year to everyone… Catch y’all on the flip side :).


Lunching at home

I’m very fortunate to work for a company that allows me to work from home every Friday. And one of my very favorite things about working from home is that I get to make my lunch from scratch and eat it fresh out of the oven or off the stove (or freshly assembled, if I happened to make a salad or a sandwich :)).

Today’s menu featured a lot of veggies, because I love veggies. I try to eat 2-3 veggies with every meal if I can. I find it’s a great way to make a meal feel substantial without bumping up the portion size of the things that you probably want to be more reasonable with in terms of portions (indulgences are good–even necessary, I would argue :)–but by definition, indulgences can lead to… well, overindulging :)).

My lunch for today:

  • Kale chips (I could seriously eat these for every meal)
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Fontina, pancetta, and fig jam panini (more on this particular fig jam in a bit–YUM)
A homemade lunch

A homemade lunch... Veggies, anyone?


So speaking of this fig jam… Being that I am a Trader Joe’s fanatic, it’s not uncommon that I will discover a new food item each time I go shopping there (which is about 1-2x a week–told ya I’m a fanatic). Last week’s new discovery was this AH-mazing fig butter that I couldn’t wait to start using.

Trader Joe's fig butter

Trader Joe's fig butter... more, please!


I watch Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel obsessively, and one of the recipes they featured was a taleggio, fig jam, and prosciuto panini. Now, I usually don’t like having anything remotely fruity in a savory dish, but I really love most of the recipes they have on the show, and so I figured I’d at least give it a shot before I wrote it off.

I didn’t have taleggio cheese handy, but I did have fontina, and armed with my Trader Joe’s fig butter, I set about to recreate this panini. I. Fell. In. Love. Seriously, all kinds of yummy. I decided I needed to make this again, and soon. So I resolved to make it for lunch today, only I decided to tweak it a little and make it with pancetta instead of prosciuto, since I also wanted to try this delectable-looking gem.

Well, the fig butter is now going to be a staple in my fridge. And I will be looking for more ways to incorporate it–I’m already thinking about making some ravioli cookies (so dubbed by my friend, Emma, because they are soft shortbread cookies stuffed like a ravioli) with this divine fig butter in them.

Who knows, you may be seeing a post on that really soon…

Will run for food…

I often joke that I run so I can eat [fill in the blank here] (chocolate, cupcakes, cheeseburgers, pizza, whatever other goody I can think of). And while that’s not actually the reason I run, let’s just say I don’t mind the side benefit of getting to eat a bit more as a result* :).

* It should be noted, however, the contrary to popular belief, running a lot does NOT ensure weight loss. I’ve learned this the hard way, too.

Take today, for an example. This morning, I went on my weekly 6AM “buddy run” with my friends, a run that takes place every Thursday morning, all 52 weeks of the year. Because we’ve formed a family of sorts, we often celebrate life events for each other, and my friend Victoria is about to have a baby, so we decided to throw her a surprise baby shower after the run.

My friend Janine, expert baker that she is (and I should know, because she famously beat me in a Pumpkin Bread Smackdown nearly 3 years ago–the loss still stings), brought her famous pumpkin bread and lemon tea bread for us to all munch on as we celebrate Victoria’s little (soon-to-be-born) bundle of joy.

When people ask me why in the world I would willingly get up at 5 in the morning every Thursday to run, I point them to things such as this as an explanation :).

Pumpkin bread and lemon tea bread

Janine's famous, award-winning pumpkin bread, and her lemon tea bread. She'd give you the recipe for both, but she'd have to kill you afterwards.