Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lemon Drop Jello Shots!

These are just awesome. I was going to just bring these potato wedges to a Halloween party, but then I found this on Food Gawker and couldn't resist. Here is the link to the recipe. My friends loved the idea and said that they tasted good. They're basically just lemon Jell-o mix, water, & vodka, but they look really cool. Scroll down for more ideas!

Before you slice them into little wedges, you refrigerate them like this:

Here are some other great ideas I'd love to try in the future:

(1) Strawberry margarita Jell-o shooters
(2) Caramel apple shots with real apples
(3) Candy corn Jell-o shots
(4) Watermelon lime Jell-o shots
(5) Pink lemonade Jell-o shots
(6) Strawberry Jell-o shots in mini chocolate bowls

Aren't those creative and pretty? I've gotta make these either for or with my cousin, Ashley, who loves Jell-o.


(1) Empty out the citrus of your choice to create a little cup
(2) Juice citrus first to make pulp removal easier (I shoulda done this). Save extracted juice for later recipes.
(3) Use either a grapefruit knife to hollow out the citrus or turn them inside out & dig deeply into the pith until you catch the thin membrane holding the pulp and then peel back. * Make sure to completely clean out your citrus or the pulp will show in the wedges*
(4) Make Jell-O according to the instructions on the box & then reduce the cold water portion by ¼ cup & replace with your chilled drink mix (I just added vodka)
(5) Place emptied citrus into muffin pan holes
(6) Pour mixture into emptied citrus & chill overnight or for at least a couple of hours (maybe 3?)
(7) Use a sharp, straight edge knife to cut into wedges to avoid leaving track marks

 *Note: I used one 6-oz box of lemon-flavored Jell-o and used a little less than 1/4 cup of vodka 'cause I was afraid of making them too strong.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Garlicky Baked Fries/Wedges

Oh my goodness I love potatoes. Blake and I both said that if we had to choose between RICE and POTATOES, we'd choose potatoes. And yes, we are both Japanese. Crazy, I know. I love both, but potatoes are just sooo awesome. Anyway, my Cal friend, Erin, introduced me to Food Gawker recently (I don't know how I didn't know about that until recently!!), and I went NUTS and wanted to make everything (well, everything that wasn't made of crab and stuff I hate)! Here's one of the recipes I made because it seemed easy and I just love potatoes and garlic. I saw the recipe here, but the recipe is here from The Purple Foodie.


Adapted from The Purple Foodie's recipe.

* Changes or decisions I made (when there were options):
- used big garlic cloves
- used cornstarch
- used regular salt (no sea salt when I'm in R-side)
- used regular black pepper
- used garlic salt instead of garlic powder (I didn't adjust the salt and just hoped it wouldn't be too salty, and it wasn't as far as I could tell)
- used chili powder instead of cayenne

I guess I made a lot of changes. I'm sure if you make a few changes to this basic recipe below, it'll still turn out delicious. Maybe add some parmesan...add MORE garlic (haha)...use seasoning salt...etc. You don't have to make it spicy with the cayenne or chili powder either, of course.

8 garlic cloves, minced (I used big cloves!)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 russet potatoes (about 8oz each), each cut into 12 wedges
3 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour (I chose cornstarch)
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (I used regular salt)
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (I used regular pepper)
½ tsp garlic powder (I used 1/4 tsp garlic salt)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I used ~1/8 tsp chili powder)
  1. Preheat oven to 225°C/440° F
  2. Combine garlic & oil in a large bowl, warming it until the garlic is fragrant (~1 minute)
  3. Transfer 5 tablespoons of the oil (leaving garlic in the bowl) to the baking dish, coating it well
  4. Add potatoes to bowl with garlic mixture & toss to coat
  5. Wrap bowl tightly in plastic wrap & microwave on high power until potatoes are translucent around the edges (3 to 6 minutes), shaking the bowl to redistribute the potatoes halfway through cooking
  6. Combine cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, & cayenne in a small bowl & sprinkle over  hot potatoes & toss well to coat
  7. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet & bake, turning once, until deep golden brown & crisp (30 to 40 minutes)

    Optional: Serve with ketchup, mayo, or sour cream, or whatever you want!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spencer's Restaurant - Bakersfield, CA

Spencer's Restaurant
10437 Rosedale Hwy
Bakersfield, CA 93312

I love diners...and fast service, low prices, delicious food, and friendly service. Go here if you want that too and you happen to be in Bakersfield. Blake recommended this place to my parents and me, and it was perfect!

I got meatloaf (is it weird that I love meatloaf and always have?) with mashed potatoes and fried okra. This was my first time trying fried asparagus, and it was goood. I still love it in stir-fry dishes though!

My chicken & dumplings soup (so good!):

 I also love cornbread. This had the perfect grainy, firm-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside texture:

 My dinner came with a pie or cobbler, so I chose this cobbler but gave it to Blake. He said it was good, and it smelled awesome!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte & PSL Frappucino @ Starbucks

First, the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte. I used to dislike it because my first one was too sweet and did not taste like pumpkin, but that was years ago, and the last couple of PSLs have been great! So warm and comforting. Perfect for the fall but amazing anytime. Got this one with Lisa (you can see her foot under the table...haha):

This doesn't look so great if you don't know what it is, but it really is delicious.

And now the Frappuccino version (I asked if they could make a cold version of the latte, and the employee said that they could make it an iced drink or a blended one, so I got the blended one). I just LOVE their whipped cream. Even the lower fat whipped cream (pictured below) is yummy. I didn't think this tasted much like pumpkin though.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Facebook group HERE. Twitter HERE. Just FYI. I'm not sure how people have been finding me on Twitter lately, but that's awesome. Thought I'd make it easier for a day by posting links here.

Occasionally I have random urges to make muffins. I almost always want to make delicious things, but not everything is easy to make like muffins are, so when I have a muffin making craving, I just do it. Usually.

* Delicious when eaten immediately
* Delicious but drier when eaten the next day (almost scone-like after a couple of days)
* Freeze well

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins
Adapted from this recipe here.

*Changes I made:
1. I used about 1/3 cup non-fat milk mixed with 1/3 cup whipping cream instead of just milk. I also added extra milk to make up for the added oats.
2. I excluded the walnuts.
3. I added a bit of oatmeal for looks on top and for general texture.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
½ cup butter (melted and cooled)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (11 ½ ounce) package milk chocolate chips (or less)

(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
(2) Grease 12 muffins cups
(3) In large bowl mix together flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder & salt
(4) In another bowl stir together eggs, milk, butter & vanilla until well blended
(5) Make a well in the center of dry ingredients
(6) Pour milk mixture into the well & stir until well combined
(7) Lightly stir in chocolate chips
(8) Spoon batter into muffins tin
(9) Place into oven & bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
(10) Remove from oven & allow to cool for 5 min

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Carrot Cupcake /w Cream Cheese Frosting - Teaser

I wasn't sure how long to keep this a secret, but M&M and I (mostly M&M) made carrot cupcakes for Jason's birthday. That's not the secret. The secret is that M&M and I are making a cupcake blog...but I can't link you just yet. That is why this is just a "teaser." We will post the carrot cupcake recipe there, along with other recipes and reviews of bakery-bought cupcakes.

America's Original Pumpkin Ale & Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

I don't really know if my opinion on this is valid because I'm just starting to like beer and taste different kinds, but Melissa and Mia didn't like it either (M&M are my main pumpkin friends). All I can say is that it wasn't fun to drink, it didn't taste like pumpkin at all, and none of us finished. Sad! We tried though, really. I like it a little at first, but it had a really strong flavor that I can't describe (I still need to go beer tasting so I can figure out what phrases like "really hoppy" mean so I can use them here. I have seen TV shows comparing beer flavors, but I have to try them myself to really understand.

Anyway, we thought that this Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale tasted better, although it still did not taste like pumpkin at all. Do any pumpkin-flavored beers taste like pumpkin? If not, what the heck is the point? I probably sound like such an amateur right now...and there are probably people out there who can (or at least claim to) taste the pumpkin in both of these drinks.,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

DIY: Vanilla Extract

I made vanilla bean sugar and vanilla extract the other day! I posted about the vanilla sugar here.
Figured I'd post about this now so you can start working on them if you want to
give these out as holiday gifts.
I used these Madagascar vanilla beans for both projects:
 The bean flecks up close (like caviar, I tell you!):
 Day 1 for the extract (before it started to change color):
 Day 2 of the extract (I'll take pictures by the week from now on and will update this post as I do so):

After 1 week:

 All it is is vanilla beans + vodka. I used Seagram's 'cause it had a middle-ish price (I figured you don't need the FANCY fancy vodka for vanilla extract):
 I think I like bottles better than actual drinks.

VANILLA EXTRACT RECIPE (found here at Bake at 350):

Whole vanilla beans

Ratio = 1 vanilla bean per 1/3 cup of vodka

(1) Split the vanilla beans, leaving one end intact. (I cut mine in half to fit them.)
(2) Place in airtight bottles (if you use clear ones like mine, store them in a dark place)
(3) Top with vodka
(4) Store in a cool, dark place for at least six weeks before using. The longer it sits, the darker the extract will become.

DIY: Vanilla Bean Sugar

I finally made something with whole vanilla beans! Scroll down for pictures! I also made vanilla extract, which you can read about here.
Vanilla sugar uses: Coffee, cookies, cupcakes, etc. I have yet to try it on different things, but I imagine you could eat it with anything you want. Maybe on buttered toast? Have you tried regular sugar on buttered toast? Yeah.
Found the idea and recipe here at Cookin' Cowgirl. I'd been thinking of something homemade to make for Christmas gifts, so I got really excited when I found this. I went crazy and spent an hour or so looking for other ideas and ordering vanilla beans. Those things ain't cheap, but they're so awesome. Here's the really simple vanilla bean sugar recipe:

Homemade Vanilla Bean Sugar

12 oz mason jar
1 1/2 cup sugar (or brown sugar, powdered/confectioners sugar)
2 vanilla beans (I used Madagascar)

(1) Pour sugar in a large bowl
(2) Cut 2 vanilla beans length-wise with a sharp knife & gently scrape knife across bean to get vanilla flecks off (See pics below!)
(3) Add vanilla to bowl of sugar & mix (and squish those gobs so the little flecks spread out).
(4) Put the 2vanilla beans in the jar
(5) Pour vanilla sugar over the beans & seal tightly
(6)  Let vanilla sugar sit for 2 weeks before using to get the maximum flavor
(7) Take 1/2 a cup of either the vanilla brown sugar, powdered sugar, sweetener or regular sugar and pour it into one of the small jars (if repackaging). You can transfer a vanilla bean over to the small jar if you prefer. You can decorate the jar with ribbon or twine & attach a gift tag.
 2 whole vanilla beans:

 I ordered 16 off of Amazon:
 The flecks up close (it kinda looks like caviar):

The empty bean pods:

 The sugar before mixing:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Four Pizookies from BJ's!

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
Website here - many locations

Don't worry...I am aware that there are only three Pizookies above. Keep reading.

Pizookie = A "freshly baked, hot out of the oven, rich and delicious cookie topped with two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream and served in its own deep dish" (See menu)

Lisa and I went to BJ's in Moreno Valley (near Riverside) and ordered their Pizookie Trio ("Pick three from your choice of Chocolate Chunk, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Cookies ’N Cream or Triple Chocolate made with Ghirardelli®").
We chose Cookies 'N' Cream, Triple Chocolate made with Ghirardelli, & Chocolate Chunk, but they gave us the Red Velvet instead of the Triple Chocolate, so they let us keep that and also brought out the Triple Chocolate.

Here's their regular Pizookie (sooo good):

Triple Chocolate (the fourth pizookie) - Ghirardelli just knows how to do it:
Cookies 'N' Cream (delicious!):
 Red Velvet (tasted like a cupcake...I can't explain how, but it was way different than the other ones):

We both agreed that they were all good, but that the Triple Chocolate was the best and the Red Velvet was the least best (not that it was bad!!!). Man...what a sugar rush. They didn't list all of the types I just listed (got those options from their website). I wanna try the peanut butter one! 

I'm really happy (or maybe this isn't good) because the last time I tried one of these, I decided it was way too sweet and never wanted to try it again, but I chose to give it another chance and try different types, which is what I do for most foods (I just can't get myself to like most wines, raw celery, or oysters though).

In case you wanted to see the insides of each:
SOOOOOOO GOOOD!! And chocolatey, obviously.