sugar rose, part 1

What have I been doing?

I attempted to make a four-layer, ombre cake one night last week. I’ve baked simple cakes and cupcakes, but nothing prepared me for what I got myself into. Baking in itself is a science. If you haven’t tried baking something specific without reading instructions, do not even bother trying to WING IT. Educate yourself. I failed to do this, thinking I knew what I was doing.

I don’t have a picture of that cake, but I do have a picture of a sugar/fondant rose I made the day after. I’ve been following several Pinterest and YouTube tutorials. There isn’t just one that works. You really just have to try them all and see what works for you.

Making gum paste or fondant flowers is very time consuming, but you can’t help but get lost in it. There is a lot of work that goes into each individual petal: the rolling, cutting, thinning, shaping, layering, and so on. This isn’t perfect, because I’m just starting, however, I notice myself improving each time.

corn chowder + scallops + bacon

Hello, again.

I haven’t touch this blog in nearly 4 years. I made the decision to stop blogging then due to personal reasons, but I feel like bringing it back from the dead. My camera and writing skills are non-existent right now, and to be honest, I haven’t used my dslr in years either. Ever since I got an iPhone and Instagram came out, I used those two for everything including food, personal pictures, and vacations. Having an iPhone made things and LIFE easier. But, it also made me lazy.

I cook a lot more than I used to. Just never anything different and exciting. About 2-3 years ago, I joined a gym and became addicted to a healthy lifestyle, which included clean eating. I started cooking simple and less appealing dishes that were made out of only less than five ingredients. I watched everything I ate and got really skinny. I was never overweight, but I wasn’t happy with my body. Today, I’m still concerned with eating well and exercising consistently, but I’ve learned to balance being disciplined and treating myself.

I want to improve my culinary skills, learn different techniques, and try cooking things I’ve never tried before. I want to make a seven layer rainbow cake from scratch. An authentic Sichuan dish. Bolognese sauce. Different hors d’oeuvres for parties. Paleo dishes that aren’t boring and typical. And so on.

The other day I made corn chowder with scallops and bacon using a recipe I found from Food & Wine. Cooking scallops is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I put it off for so long because 1) scallops are expensive and 2) I was scared I was going to wreck them and waste all that money I spent. I went to three grocery stores to find scallops that were a reasonable size. Whole Foods has U/15 ¬†scallops for $22.99 a pound. Fun fact: the number means how many units of scallops it would take to reach a pound. A U/10 scallop is much larger than a U/20 scallop. Typical grocery stores like Farm Fresh and Harris Teeter carry U/20 or U/30 scallops for about $13 a pound. These are tiny bay scallops and are not like the scallops that you would get at a restaurant.

I learned that prepping scallops is soooo much like making the perfect pan fried steak. Both have to be very dry before you season them with freshly grind sea salt and black peppercorns. Do NOT use table salt and pepper. So, so wrong. After your pan is super hot with olive oil and melted butter, sear each size for about a minute or a minute and a half until it’s golden brown.

See recipe here.

And here’s the final product!

strawberry & angel cake trifle

This is a dessert that I made on my own for the very first time for a friend’s bbq. My mom normally makes this every summer, so I never saw a reason to whip this dish up myself. I’m used to eating really heavy, sweet, and rich desserts, but this was a big change for me. This is a great way for me to get my serving of fresh fruits (cause I rarely eat them).

My mom doesn’t uses exact measurements while cooking, so bare with me…

  • 2 packages of vanilla pudding (each package has 6 individual cups. not the powder pudding mix!)
  • 1 13oz container of sour cream
  • 1 large container of frozen whipped cream
  • 2 pints (or packages) of fresh strawberries, stems cut and sliced
  • 1 pint (or package) of fresh blueberries
  • 1 box of angel food cake mix

Don’t forget to properly wash your fruits! Start off by preparing the angel food cake using the directions on the back of the box, or if you’d rather make it from scratch, but I can’t help you there. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the pudding and sour cream together. Once your cake is finished, dice it into small squares so that it can easily absorb the cream mixture.

1st layer — whip cream

2nd layer — evenly spread angel food cake squares

3rd layer — evenly spread sliced/diced strawberries and blueberries

4th layer – top with the pudding & sour cream mixture

…and repeat!

It shouldn’t be that hard, just eyeball everything as you go and make it work according to your needs and taste buds! It will look more uniform on the outside as you get higher.

thai tea

Nothing better on a hot day than ice cold….

….Thai ice tea to wash down all that….

…spicyness!

Btw, this was at Royal Thai Cuisine. I was actually looking for Bangkok, but I guess they no longer have their Chespeake location. Instead, we stumbled upon this. Hmm, Bangkok is so much better!

cutesy food!

I was working down in NC about two weeks ago, and I attended this catered event with lots and lots of¬† hors d’oeuvres. I love eating various little treats…I’ll never get sick of eating the same thing over and over. Except the shrimp cocktail… I ate that the entire night. I didn’t have my dSLR on me, so I had to take these on my Blackberry. Sorry about the poor quality!

shrimp cocktail

My second favorite was definitely the watermelon & pistachio spoons! Yumm.