5 More Minutes, 2017…

Hold up and slow down. 2017? Is it just me? Or is time really going by so fast?

2016 just started, right? 

It’s been quite the year. And January 2016 felt like so long ago, though it went by so fast!

2016 has been a milestone year in my life, and not just because I turned 16 years old. So much more happened than that. I created this new blog. I finally found something I want to do with my life job-wise. I got to know myself a whole lot better. We moved to a new part of New York and settled in strangely fast. Not to mention the AWESOME music I’ve found and fell in love with!!

Like any other year, it’s had ups and downs. But overall, 2016 was one of my best years (so far). I’m sad to see it go so fast, but I’m ready for 2017 and whatever it has to bring. 

A Innovative Way to Cupcakes

I’m sure this idea has been around for awhile, but I think it’s really smart. Instead of just regular cupcakes, why not try mini layer cakes?

I forget where I saw this, but when I did, I knew immediately that this would be my next kitchen project.

Aren’t they cute?

Ok, so maybe they’re not the prettiest dessert I’ve made. In fact, they’re very messy. The chocolate cake recipe I used was not the right one for this. But the idea is just genius. 

I made vanilla ones that turned out much better. 

It seems complicated. And honestly, it’s not the easiest recipe. 
For this, you use a regular cake recipe. You want one that isn’t super wet. The vanilla recipe I used from the Food Network was perfect. The batter is thick and smooth. The chocolate recipe was absolutely delicious, but for this purpose, it wasn’t right. The reason why I say this is because you don’t bake this in a cake pan like a normal cake. It’s more like a sheet cake, baked in a 9×13 dish. The consistency of the batter affects the way the cakes bake. For this, you want cakes that are sturdy and don’t crumble easily. The chocolate cake, because of the too-wet batter, fell apart after baking. 

So make sure the recipe you’re using results in thick batter.

What you’re going to need is 9×13″ pans (I used two and made the cake in two batches). Also, a circle cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. I used the biscuit cutter. Once you have that, the cake recipe and the decorating supplies, you’re good to go!

Step one is to make the cake as instructed in the recipe. Instead of using the normal cake pans, pour batter into the parchment paper lined pans. You need the parchment for easy removal, so don’t skip that. 

Next, bake the cake. The recipe I used called for 30-35 minutes in the oven, but I reduced it to 20 because the pans make the cake thinner. 20 minutes was just enough time. They’re were perfect. Take the cake out of the pan and let cool.

The third step is when you know for sure whether you used the right recipe. At this step, the chocolate cake I made crumbled when I tried to cut them. As you can see from the pictures, I was able to salvage some but they are definitely more crumbly than the vanilla ones. 

3) After cooled, take the cookie/biscuit cutter and gently cut circles out of the cake. Make sure the circles are close together so not too much cake is wasted. Set the little circles aside. 

Depending on how thick your cake comes out to be, you may need to cut each circle a little to make the layers thinner or more even. I did, and it’s not that much of a problem.

Fourth, make the buttercream frosting (or whatever type your using). I used this recipe from Add A Pinch, and added about 2 teaspoons of blue gel food coloring. Fill a piping bag with frosting. I used the Wilton tip 1M.

Start with the bottom cake layer. Swirl a circle around the edges, just enough to see it when you top it with the other cake. Completely cover the top of the cake, but don’t make the classic cupcake peak with the frosting. Top with the top cake layer. This is the pretty layer. Frost like you would a cupcake.

Repeat and garnish with sprinkles!

Mini layer cakes should be stored in a airtight container and can be left on the counter unfrosted. If frosted, refrigerate up to no more than four days. I freezed the cake scraps in a gallon ziplock bag to use later. 

Enjoy!

The Flatbread My Family Has Been Living On


Not too long ago, everyday for a straight week, my sisters and I only ate this recipe for lunch and dinner. It is just so good. In fact, it’s so good that we’re still not sick of it. The only reason why we haven’t made it in a few days is that we ran out of a certain ingredient. That being, the best thing on the planet.

“The best thing on the planet” may be a little bold as a title, but I certainly have been in the mood where the title is 100% accurate. I’m talking about fig jam goat cheese. I’m sure you’ve seen blueberry goat cheese. You know, the goat cheese that’s covered in a blueberry syrup. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the blueberry goat cheese. However, it’s been awhile since I’ve had it, so I’d like to give it another try.

But back to the fig jam goat cheese. Really, it was a no brainer that I’d love this. I love fig jam (with Gouda, it is the bomb. It’s so “good-a”…. *snickers at lame pun*). I love goat cheese. Add the two together and it is beautiful. Like peanut butter + chocolate, it’s a combo that couldn’t go wrong. 

And then I thought about what to put it on. It’s good all by itself, but it needed something. It needed salty. Crunchy. Like a cracker. Well, I found something better. 

A few months ago, I had the best flatbread at a restaurant. No joke. It was so good. Goat cheese, arugula, proscuitto and a drizzle of olive oil. I ate the entire thing. And I don’t usually eat bread. Save for a freshly toasted, cream-cheesed NY bagel or fresh baked Italian bread, I don’t really miss bread since I cut wheat and grains out of my diet. Now bagels and Italian bread have a new roommate on my Treat Foods List. Flatbread.

Trader Joe’s has amazing flatbread. (Ah, who am I kidding? Trader Joe’s has amazing everything.) It comes in a pack of three and they’re small but long. Perfect for one serving. When I saw the flatbread in the store, I nearly screamed with excitement. I know.

I’m such a foodie. I might as well add “Food” to the fandoms I’m in. Fangirl of Food. Foodie. Fanfood. I’m so hungry. 🥗🥖

Anyway… 

Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

Fig Goat Cheese Flatbread

Serves 1 – but this is super easy to double. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece Trader Joe’s Tandoori Naan (but any flatbread will do; I’ve used whole wheat and a garlic flatbread from Aldi)
  • Fig goat cheese, about a 1/4 cup crumbled
  • 2 slices proscuitto, pulled apart into smaller pieces
  • 1 small handful arugula

Note: if you can’t find fig goat cheese, it’s still possible to get the flavor. Just use regular goat cheese, and spread about two tablespoons of fig jam on the flatbread after toasting. 

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to broil (I use a toaster oven set at broil/toast). Put flatbread in the oven and toast until lightly brown and crispy, about 3 – 5 minutes. The bottom should still be soft. (That’s my favorite part about flatbread.)
  • When toasted, top with the goat cheese (see note), proscuitto and arugula. 
  • Pop back into oven until the cheese is just bubbly and browned. 
  • Enjoy!

This recipe makes a great lunch or dinner paired with a side salad. Or serve it to guests as an appetizer.

Warning: this post may contain spoilers!!


Well, I finally saw it. Rogue One, the latest Star Wars movie everyone’s been excited about. The trailers peaked curiosity in every Star Wars fan. Most of the thoughts that ran through my head upon watching the trailer for the first time were along these lines: 

“Is that the ‘Imperial March’????” *Internal squealing*

“Who are these people?” 

“Where’s Darth Vader???”  

“I don’t know who she is yet, but she’s awesome.”

“Whoa…”

“I need to see this.”

“OMG THERE’S VADER!!!” *External squealing* 

*hyperventilating because of the awesome epic-ness of this movie*

Last night, my dad, sister and I went to see it. The movie was just as awesome as I thought. I was not disappointed.

Now for the spoilers I warned about. Don’t tell River. 

So basically, they all die. I knew that going into the movie because it’s so obvious from the trailer. And the fact that none of these new characters are in the rest of the movies. But lots of people suspected that too. 

I’ve heard theories that Jyn Erso is Rey’s mother. Well, hate to break it to you, but Rey’s story and ancestry remains a mystery. Jyn is not her mother.

I have a new ship. Though according to some articles I read, Jyn and Cassian’s relationship is not technically canon, and 

with them dead by the end of the movie, there really is no relationship. But whatever. I ship who I want to ship. And I want to ship Jyn and Cassian. End of story.

Another thing I loved immensely was the strong female lead. Star Wars has always had strong women with prominet roles, starting with Leia Organa. There’s also Padmè Amidala, Mara Jade (in the books; she’s my favorite SW book character), and Rey Last-Name-Uknown. There are even more Star Wars women that deserve honorable mentions, such as Queen Amidala’s handmaidens, Shmi Skywalker, Mon Mothma, Ahsoka Tano, and Maz Kanata.

If I missed any, please comment and tell me! And share your personal favorites too!

Rogue One give us yet another inspiring female lead, Jyn Erso, and proves that us girls are capable of saving the world just like the guys. Outside of the Star Wars universe too, there are amazing women who carry out leadership roles (just a few that come to mind are River Song, Katniss Everdeen {thought I haven’t seen/read The Hunger Games}, Maximum Ride, and my very own Avalon Harlow). This makes me happy. Very happy.

Look at all the stormtroopers this girl took out!

I was also pleased with the comic relief of this movie. I thought it was so funny. K-2SO is such a funny droid, joining R2, Threepio and BB-8 on my favorite characters list. Of course, there are very dark aspects to this movie. After all, what is Star Wars without the Dark Side? But the comic relief ties the Darkness together nicely. The one-liners are just epic.

And lastly, Darth Vader. When I saw him at the end of the trailer, I knew that even if the rest of the movie didn’t meet my expectations, just the fact that my favorite villain would be in it again excited me. I honestly love Darth Vader so.dang.much. He had a one-liner that made me laugh louder than I want to admit.

“Be careful not to choke on your aspirations.”

As he starts to Force-choke someone. I think we can all agree on Darth Vader’s level of boss.

So all in all, Rogue One did not disappoint me and I was very happy with it. I would see it in theaters again (though, maybe not as many times as I saw The Force Awakens…or maybe I will) and I will buy it as soon as I see it on DVD in stores.

Did Someone Say ‘Chocolate’???

Are you sick of dessert posts yet? I sure hope not because here’s another and it’s about the most popular, most loved dessert. It’s comforting, it’s soothing, and better yet, sometimes it’s healthy!




Chocolate. Chocolate. My favorite word. 🍫🍫🍫

Today is not Chocolate Day. That’s October 28th. But happily, today does have to do with chocolate… it’s Anything-Covered-in-Chocolate Day!

Anything covered in chocolate. There’s so many possiblities, so many options. Besides the classic and delicious chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate covered pretzels, there’s chocolate covered potato chips (it sounds weird, but it’s not any more strange than the pretzels- sweet, salty, crunchy and unfortunately loaded with calories 🙄☹️). Also, chocolate covered blueberries, raisins, nuts, bananas, and chocolate covered cookies too!

See, the possibilities!!!

I love chocolate.

I even have a shirt that says chocolate is the solution to all problems. It’s true.

I have a few chocolate covered recipes. Just thinking about them makes me hungry 🍫

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls – Peanut butter. Chocolate. Enough said.

Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries – These are so good. So good. Just when you thought chocolate covered strawberries couldn’t get better, they did.

Chocolate Covered Bacon – I’m not kidding. Like the chocolate covered pretzels and potato chips, these are a sweet-salty-crunchy concoction.

What’s your favorite chocolate-covered treat?

Cupcake Day

I wonder why they chose December to have all these food days. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but I want to know why December. Don’t cupcakes seem more of a summer dessert? Well, I guess it depends on the flavor. Strawberry cupcakes definitely scream summer, while pumpkin cupcakes seem autumn of course.

But I’m not complaining. Cupcakes are adorable, easy, decadent and so versatile. There are hundreds of recipes, probably thousands of ways to decorate the cupcakes, and not to mention all the different ways to make cupcakes. Do you want mini cupcakes? A cupcake cake? Super big cupcakes? Muffins even. No two cupcakes are alike, even in the same batch.

Cupcakes are special.

Cupcakes are my favorite thing to bake. I love the beautiful delicacy. Decorating cupcakes with my favorite music in the background is so calming and fun.

So here is a post of my favorite cupcake recipes.

Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes – This is the best vanilla cupcakes recipe I’ve ever tried.

Banana Split Cupcakes – These. Are. The. Best. Kinda messy but totally worth it. I made these for a party and they were a hit! The recipe is below.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes – For that summer twist 🍓 ☀️

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes – These are more dense than the usual fluffy, airy cupcake, but still so delicious.

Banana Split Cupcakes

A fluffy chocolate cupcake with banana filling and topped with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry. 

For the cupcake:

I used this chocolate cupcake recipe from Add A Pinch. Or use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe.

For the banana filling:

I used this banana pudding recipe from Paleo Grubs. Just make sure the bananas are completely pureed with no chunks.

For the topping:

  • Whipped cream (homemade or store-bought)
  • Sprinkles
  • Hot fudge
  • Maraschino cherries

Directions

  1. Make the cupcakes as the recipe says. While cupcakes are baking, make the pudding. Set aside.
  2. When the cupcakes are done and slightly cooled, use an apple corer to slice a small circle out of each cupcake. Use the corer as you would with an apple, but more gently and do not go all the way through the cupcake.
  3. Spoon about two teaspoons of chilled banana pudding into each cavity in the cupcakes. Don’t overfill, otherwise you’ll just end up with a sticky mess (not fun). Replace the top of each cut-out circle on top of the pudding and press gently so it looks like a normal cupcake.
  4. Pipe whipped cream on the cupcakes.
  5. Don’t put the hot fudge and other toppings on until immediately before serving.
  6. Enjoy!

Note: For the hot fudge, I just used the Smucker’s ice cream topping. I poured it onto a spoon and lightly drizzled it around the whipped cream.

Classic Cheesecake with a Classic Twist

Everyone loves classic desserts: good ol’ cheesecake, Grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, fudgy brownies with the crackly tops, vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. These are all basic desserts that never grow old. Of course though, we like to put new spins and twists on old recipes.

Like this one here. Classic cheesecake. Classic chocolate chip cookie. Fresh, new twist on both: Cheesecake with a cookie dough crust.

Okay, maybe not new. I’ve seen this idea floating around a few food blogs, and I saw a version of this idea in a deli. Most of the recipes were for chocolate chip cheesecake bars. I wanted to to try it that way, but my mini cheesecake pan was calling out to me. So my recipe is mini cheesecakes with a cookie crust. But the idea is basically the same.

It was really easy and came together in about forty minutes (excluding baking and cooling time, which always takes a while with cheesecake). It would’ve gone even faster if I had a second Kitchen Aid mixer, but I enjoy baking so I don’t mind the extra time. I just took a chocolate chip cookie and a cheesecake recipe, tweaked them a bit, and voilà, chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. CCDC for short.

I wasn’t quite sure how they would come out. I wasn’t sure if the tang of the cheesecake would pair well with the sweet chocolatey-ness of the cookie, even with the bar recipes floating around. So I thought about doing half batches, but I figured that if it didn’t come out any good, I would just bake a regular cheesecake and regular cookies with the extra batter/dough.

No need for a regular cheesecake or regular cookies.

The tangy-sweet cream cheese pairs really well with the crisp chocolatey cookie. It’s like a party of unexpected delicious-ness in your mouth, with cheesecake and choc. chip cookie dancing together for the first time. It’s not overly sweet either, which is something I was worried about, even though I reduced the amount of sugar. 

Overall, this is a recipe I will definitely make again, and I will be experiementing with different variations.

Maybe I’ll do a full cheesecake with the cookie dough crust…Stay tuned!

Cheesecake with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

For the cookie crust:

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • chocolate chips (I don’t usually measure them, but for this recipe I used about 1/2 cup; I don’t want to use too many chocolate chips because it makes it hard to press into the mini-cheesecake pan)

For the cheesecake:

  • 24oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, room temp

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together butter and sugars until combined, then add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined, only a minute or two.
  2. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Add chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon about little less than a tablespoon into the cavities of a mini cheesecake pan (you could also use a regular/mini muffin tin). Press the cookie dough flat in the bottoms.
  4. Bake the cookie dough for about five minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese on high until fluffy. Add the sugar, vanilla, and sour cream and combine. Add each egg one at a time and beat on low until smooth, thick and silky.
  6. When the cookie dough is done, let cool but don’t let it harden. The cookies should be puffed up and soft. With a spoon, scrape out some of the dough until only a thin layer is left in the pan. Otherwise, there won’t be enough room for the cheesecake. (Underbaked cookie dough is now one of my favorite things ever because of this step.)
  7. Scoop about a tablespoon or two onto the cookie dough, filling the cavities to the brim. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. The cheesecakes are done when puffy and lightly browned, but still wet in the center. Let cool completely.
  9. Repeat until all the dough and batter is gone.
  10. After cooled, place the cheesecakes in an airtight container and store in the fridge.
  11. Enjoy!

It’s Brownie Day!


There are a lot of food-dedicated national days in December. It’s only the 8th, and there’s been more than five already. Including Pie Day, Red Apple Day, Fritters Day, Gazpacho Day, Cotton Candy Day, Cookie Day and now Brownie Day. I’m not complaining, of course. It’s fun to dedicate a whole day to daydreaming about a specific food.

I’m especially excited for Anything-Covered-in-Chocolate Day on December 15th. That’s going to be extra fun!

Like with Cookie Day, here’s a round-up of all my favorite brownie recipes, plus a few that I added to my Food Bucket List. 

Here you go:

Paleo Brownies – These come out so fudgy and dense. If you don’t follow paleo strictly, I suggest subsituting peanut butter for the almond butter. Chocolate + Peanut butter = ❤️

Brownie Mug Cake – Can’t beat mug cakes. This recipe comes together in about five minutes.

Raw Brownie Bites  – These are amazing for a quick snack. While training for a marathon, my parents used these instead of energy gels, so they’re great for workouts too.

Grasshopper Brownies – These took a little longer to make than I expected, but it was totally worth the extra time. My family would not stop raving about them.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies – Okay. Though technically not a brownie, these low-carb, grain-free blondies were too good to leave out.

Now the recipes I’m dying to try:

No Bake Brownie Batter Truffles – Enough said. I need to make these soon.

Brownie Batter Waffles – I think this idea is genuis. Bonus: it’s grain-free and low-carb.

Brownie Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake – Chocolate + Peanut butter + Ice cream = ❤️❤️❤️

I could go on and on about the brownie recipes I want to try. Brownies might be my favorite dessert and I love all the variations of them. It’s kind of fitting actually, because our last name is Brown, so my sisters and I are called ‘Brownies’. I guess it’s only right that brownies are my favorite dessert. Now make a batch (or few) and enjoy!