Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jimmy!

I want to send a late happy birthday to Jimmy at What One Man Can Do, Another Can Do! Sorry that I did not find out that it was your birthday yesterday until now! Happy 49!

Snow Day

It snowed again. We really have enough this year. Even though I don't like the traffic problem and shuffling problem due to the snow, I do like the beautiful looks of snow on trees and houses. More pictures are on my Flickr page.

I had a very peaceful Christmas. Spent time with my friend's family and exchanges some gifts. I got an ice cream maker, some more baking wares. Guess everybody likes my baking goodies such as those Christmas cookies.

For Christmas dinner at my friend's place, I made a moister 2-layer chocolate cake. The filling was the chocolate ganache with the whipped cream. The frosting on the side was the butter cream and the top was whipped cream sprinkled with peppermint crushed candy pieces. Decorated with homemade chocolate trees and "Happy Xmas" text.

I did join part of the post-Christmas sales crowd in the mall to pick up some dressing pants and the Christmas ornaments (75% off!) for next year. Overall, it is a relaxed holiday. Now I just have to start to prepare the 3-week long Europe work assignments after the New Year. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Cookies Gift

Merry Christmas! This is my Christmas cookies gift!

Monday, December 24, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 12 - Thumbprint Cookies

This is the ultimate cookie gift I gave away this year. Seven different kinds of jams are used for this cookie: strawberry, raspberry, grape, apricot, orange, cherry, apple. The cookie itself is the nice pastry dough mixed with coconut flakes and chopped pecans/walnuts. It is pretty and tastes very good.

Well, this is the end of my 12 Days of Christmas cookies. Hope that everybody has a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 11 - Mint Chocolate Cookies

This is not the average bland girl scout mint chocolate cookie. The fresh mint chocolate coating on the nice Ritz crackers and topped with the crushed peppermint candies almost make this cookie my favorite this year! And it starts to snow again outside. Aw, well, guess it will be a white Christmas here for sure.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 10 - Cranberry Squares

This is a nice cookie bar recipe that utilizes the cranberry. The crust is made of quick cooking, oats, flour, and sugar. The filling is made of the cook down cranberries and sugar. Good taste. Again, I did not have time to take the picture of this one so I used one of the picture from Kraft Foods, where I got the recipe from.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

12 Days of Christmas cookies - Day 9 - Citrus Cooler

This is basically a sugar cookie brushed with food colored lemon juice/powder sugar mix on the top. Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas cookies - Day 8 - Citrus Squares

Finally, it is the weekend. The weather is warmer (around 40'F) but very foggy. the visibility is so bad that you can only see about 50 yards away. The good news is that the snow starts to melt.

Since I had to rush to send all the cookies out to my friends, I did not get a chance to take the pictures of the Citrus Squares and Citrus Coolers. I used the pictures from the Food Networks, where I got the recipe from.

The citrus squares have nice cookie dough crust, top with a layer of raspberry jam, then add another layer of mix of eggs, sugar, sweetened condensed milk,lemon and clementines juice/zest. Very citrus if you like orange/lemon taste.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 7 - Peanut Butter Jelly Bar

The Whole 16oz jar of Skimp peanut butter used to form the dough and topping. And the filling is a jar of 16 oz grape jelly. Wonderful taste and it made the house smelled like heaven during the baking.

Due to the sudden increasing amount of tasks at work, I could post until now. That's the reason why 3 cookies got post in one day. I guess everybody just tries to finish all the work before holiday vacation. Do let me know if you are interested in the recipe of any cookie I post.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 6 - Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know what this is. :)

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 5 - Lemon Drop Cookies

Lemonade concentrate mixed in the dough with nutmeg/sugar on the surface. Soft nice cookie.

Monday, December 17, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 4 - Anise Cookies

OK, apparently, I did not count the days correctly so I will have to post one more cookies today to make it on time for Christmas. Fortunately, the recent cold weather (only 10'F outside now! Cold!) actually helps make this cookie.

This is actually an old Germany/Italian recipe from one of my friend's great aunt. It has eggs, flour, baking zest, anise oil and lemon zest. Let it sit out and uncover in the cold environment overnight to form the glaze. I formed the dough and use a spoon to scoop and drop the small size of dough on the cookie sheet. Then, I put all the cookie sheets/cookies in my car and parked the car outside the garage over night in the frozen weather. On the second day morning, all cookies formed the glaze, then baked them in the oven at 350 degree for 15 minute. A really nice cookie for dipping in coffee or milk.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 3 - Chunky Chocolate Jam Bar

Here is the second bar cookie I baked so far. Flour, quick-cooking oats, coconuts and chopped pecans make the crust and crumble on the top. And the filling is a layer of raspberry jam over a layer of the chocolate chips. The combination of the chunky chocolate, sweet/tart raspberry jam and the multi-flavor of oat/coconut crust actually makes this cookie the crowd favorite so far.

I was actually a little panick at work today because I thought today was Tuesday. I still have not sent most of the Christmas cards. Guess I need to speed up!

As request, you can find the recipe of this cookie here. Have fun!

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 2 - White Choc Sugar Cookie!

Did more baking yesterday since it snowed again. This is a sugar cookie with dried orange cranberry and walnuts, coating with the white chocolate! Not too sweet but tasty.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Day 1 - Lemon Cream Bars

It is snowing again outside today. On the top of the already accumulated 2 feet snow, it really makes a mess. And it's only early December! What a long winter this year will be.

Anyway, I have started to bake different kind of cookies for Christmas. Every year, I bake multiple kinds of cookies so I can send them as the gift. Here is the first one I make this year: Lemon Cream Bars.

The crust and top crumbles are both made of moisture lemon cake mix with crush walnuts and eggs. The filling is the mixture of lemon frosting, cream cheese and eggs. Bake at 350 degree for 35 minute until the top is golden brown and you get these delicious, not too sweet, very tasty bars. The bonus is that it makes the whole house smells very lemony and good.

Red Velvet Amaryllis

The second Amaryllis now is fully blooming. It has the rare true velvet red, not the usual orange or salmon kind of citrus you see in any other flower. It makes a perfect gift for the Xmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First Amaryllis This Year

It's almost Christmas and my first Amaryllis is blooming like crazy now. Every flower is about 7" wide and every stem carries almost 5-7 flowers. Beautiful!

Happy Birthday, Derek!

I want to send "Happy Big-40" to Derek at Still Thinking!
Happy birthday, bud!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Helsinki, Finland Trip Conclusion

I have been back to US from Helsinki, Finland since last Friday. It was another 19-hour long trip and I was still trying to recover from the jet lag. The picture shown here was the pitiful Christmas tree in the front of the Helsinki facility. It was really like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree so I had to take a picture. And please notice that the picture was taken at 1pm during a clear day. As you can see, still very dark and almost no day light. Don't think I can stand to stay the whole winter there.

Another interesting thing is that all the local engineers wore only sandals at work. Very strange dress code there. :) I just wonder if they wore the snow boots to the office and changed into the comfortable sandals.

Next interesting thing is the way they made the bed in the hotel. I had a little bit difficult time to figure out how to sleep with those comforts. There were 2 pieces of comforts kind of stuff folded half on the bed. That's it. Not sure how I was supposed to sleep in. Should I just sleep in between of one of the folded comforts and left a big opening on the side of my body or should I just open up one of comforts to cover myself? I guess it is either way.

Well, the last picture is the Helsinki train station. The weather was miserable that night, rainy and old, so I could not take any good picture. There are a couple of more pictures on my flickr account if you are interested in seeing them. Overall, it was a good trip but the flight was just way too long and I had to change flights 3 times. Of course, it does not help that it was cold and snowy just like Finland when I came back to Wisconsin. And there might be an ice storm here tomorrow, yikes!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Helsinki, Finland, Day 3 - Night Out

Ok, I am dog tired now after the full day work, 3-hour dinner in downtown Helsinki and 1.5 mile walk in the cold to the downtown bar area and took the taxi back to the hotel (25 miles away from downtown actually). Just post a picture of downtown. Sorry that my poor cell phone camera could not take some high quality picture.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Helsinki, Finland Day 2

Ok, now I finally "feel" how north Finland is on the earth. This pictures was taken 8am from my hotel room and it looked just like mid-night! And it never really got bright through the day. Just cloudy, gray and snow. Yike!

Good news is that things went very well for work. We met the local team and had several good meetings and discussions. But it was quite a long day and we worked from 9:00am to 6pm and came out of the building to find out that it had snowed another 4" or so. Since we did not have cars, we all ate at the hotel restaurant again. Hope that I will get a chance to see something else besides hotel, manufacture, and airport tomorrow since I leave on Thursday 7:00am.

One thing I found out very interesting in the hotel I stay is the fire exit. It is located outside the hallway and it is lighted up as blue neon! I went outside to take some pictures and found out that it was covered by snow and ice. What a nice way to have people trip and slide from 4th floor to the first floor if they try to flee from the room during the fire!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Trip to Finland

After 19-hour travel, I finally got to Helsinki, Finland. Just checked in the hotel which is only 5 minute drive from the airport. There is snow everywhere on the ground, at least 5", and about 35'F. Not that cold since it is not windy.

The first leg of my flight was delayed due to the snow storm as you can see from the picture. I took it from the airplane window. We sat on the runway for almost 1 hour and finally got the permission to take off. As you can imagine, it almost messed up all the rest of my flights. When we got to Detroit, the next flight had started the boarding process so I had to run like crazy at the airport and barely made it before the cabin door closed.

The second leg of the flight was actually late again since the snow storm had caught up and moved from Milwaukee area to Detroit area as well. It was another fully booked flight and the woman sat next to me was really really smelly. It was like that she had not taken showers for weeks. I had to endure through the small seats and smell for the next 8 hours. Fortunately, at least, the entertainment unit on the plane worked and I played some video games and watched the movie, "Stardust". Very interesting movie.

We got to the Amsterdam late so I only got about 1 hour to pass the custom and walk miles to the other end of the terminal. Fortunately, no delay for the last leg of the flight. Checked in the hotel and as usual, very tiny room. I found this strange shower head thing in the bathroom and wondered what it was for. Wash ass or woman's private area?

Got to take a nap now. It's already dark and cloudy outside even though it is only 3pm.