Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010!

Happy new yearWish all my friends here happy new year 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Cake

Hope that everybody has a wonderful Christmas weekend so far. I made this Christmas cake for family. White chocolate cake with cranberry filling (cook down cranberry with brown sugar, clove and cinnamon). Frosting is white chocolate vanilla frosting.

Also made some cute bears as cake tops with marzipan. They are the size of a ketchup bottle cap as you can see in the picture!
By the way, this cake is a 4-layer cake with 3-layer of cranberry fillings. It was a success for sure!

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009 Christmas Cookie Tray

There you go! All 12 cookies plus one bonus German Kebkuchen bars! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 12 - Coconut Marmalade Crescents

It is Christmas eve and we have heavy rain after snow this morning and it will all turn into ice tonight. Would be terrible to drive tomorrow! Here we save the best cookie for last: coconut marmalade crescents. This is a cream cheese based cookie. Dough contains cream cheese, rum flavoring and coconut flakes. Once the cookies have been baked, they are frosted with glaze made of orange juice, apricot preserve and powder sugar. Yummy! Happy holidays, everyone!

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 11 - Peppermint Snow Cookies

It snows several inches here last night but fortunately nothing too dense. But it is going to turn to rain this afternoon and it might be all ice tomorrow. Yikes! To reflect the beauty of snow and ice, here I present the peppermint snow cookies! It is based on snowball cookies (Mexican wedding cookies) but without powder sugar. Both cookie dough and red color icing have peppermint extract. And the cookies are sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies. It gives a sense of cold in this cold weather!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 10 - Caramel Dove Chocolate Bars

Snow and ice are coming tonight so I'd better get all baking done! Here is one for all the chocolate addicts!The cookie base is a shortbread dough. A layer of toasted chopped pecans is added. Then, it is covered by a layer of caramel topping. Sprinkle a layer of semi-sweet chocolate chip then it goes to oven. At the same time, I then melt Dove silky smooth dark chocolate on a double boiler. Once the cookie is done baking and cool several minutes, pour the melted chocolate on the top of it and smooth the surface. Refrigerate overnight and cut into bars the second day. Super strong chocolate will any chocolate lover swoon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 9 - Double Vanilla Delights

It starts to snow again and another round of blizzard is on the way from west coast to here! Hope that the weather will not cause the problem for everybody who travels during Christmas. Here is another new cookie I made this year, "Double Vanilla Delights". Good vanilla beans are the main ingredient in this cookie. The vanilla bean is mixed with chopped pecans in the melt-in-your-mouth feeling dough. I made the frosting by cooking the half and half cream with whole vanilla bean then mix with powder sugar. If you love vanilla taste, this will be a heavenly cookie to you!

Monday, December 21, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 8 - High Tea Lemon Cookies

Happy Monday before Christmas! This is one of the most delicate cookies I have ever made. It is covered by a layer of delicious lemon frosting. The cookie is just melt right in your mouth. The secret of this cookie is the big amount of cornstarch in the ingredients. Its bite size just makes this cookie even more delicate. This cookie is mainly for afternoon tea party but I think it works just well for Santa with a glass of milk!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 7 - Dried Fruit Cookies

Definitely not the nasty kind that is hard enough to be used as weapon! This one has figs, chopped pecans, candied cherries, and raisins all soaked in sherry for flavor. This is another cookie that gluten-free tastes better than flour version!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 6 - Golly Polly's Doodles

Holiday is coming and I am running behind the schedule of these 12 cookies! Here is another new one I tried to make gluten free this year, Golly Polly's doodles. It is an interesting cookie but also takes quite some works to make/ The outside layer is chocolate dough mixed with some peanut butter. The inside filling is peanut dough. Then, you wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter ball to form the cookie and coat the final ball with a layer of sugar. It smells just wonderfully when it is baked. If you like peanut butter, this is the one you will enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 5 - White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

Worked whole night last night and have not slept for almost 25 hours no but got to get everything done before the end of year for work. Here is the white chocolate and raspberry cookies. The simple sugar cookie dough mixed in with melted white chocolate to increase the flavor. After baking, put raspberry jam on the top and decorate with splashed melted white chocolate.

This gluten free version of the cookie is much better than the flour version since it is more chewy than hard. I package this kind of cookies with the chocolate thumbprint from yesterday and make beautiful holiday gift for my co-workers. Isn't it a quite nice looking Christmas snacks? :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 4 - Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Here comes a new fancy new recipe I tried first time. It is a cream cheese unsweetened chocolate base sugar thumbprint cookie with raspberry jam on top. It takes quite some works to make the dough, roll into small balls, dip in the sugar, thumb push a hole in the middle, put on the jam, and bake. But the result is great! It is soft and chewy inside and light crisp outside and the taste of chocolate and raspberry jam match wonderfully!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 3 - Raspberry Chocolate Cookie Bar

It is a bright sunny day today but that can be deceiving! It is actually freezing cold. The average temperature now is only 5'F (-15'C)! Bundle up or stay indoor! LOL. Continue the holiday cookies baking marathon. This is another back to basic cookie recipe (man, I watch too much "Barefoot Contessa"). It has a shortbread base mixed with chopped pecans. We then add a layer of semi-sweet chocolate followed by a layer of raspberry jam, then, another layer of shortbread/pecan/oatmeal topping! Can you say yummy! :) By the way, I made this one gluten free too!

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 2 - Million Dollar Cookies

The weather outside frightful, and we have lots of cookies to bake for. Quite Christmas scenes already. It is so cold that all snow on the ground freeze to rock hard ice. Here is 2nd day of Christmas cookies, Million dollar cookies. It is a delicious traditional sugar cookie with additional chopped pecans and sprinkled with sugar. Flour version is a little bit crispy and gluten free version is a little bit chewy inside. Both are great with a glass of milk!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 1 - Cherry Date Snowball Cookies

Cookies time 2009! 12 Days of Christmas cookies number 1- Cherry Date Skillet Cookies! Complete gluten-free made of rice crisp! With dates, cherry, coconut and vanilla, sweet and tasty!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1 Degree Outside and -21Degrees Windchill!

After the big snow storm yesterday, now it comes the bitterly cold. It is only 1'F (-17'C) outside and the windchill is -21'F (-30'C)! Why do I have to go to work today? Sigh, guess I have to stop whining since this is just the beginning of the long 6-month winter.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Cannot Believe It's Gluten Free! (Red Velvet Cakes)

Finally, no more traveling for work for several days. I got to make the long-delayed Red Velvet cake based on a friend's recipe. However, it is using the regular cake flour so I converted it to the gluten-free version. As matter of a fact, I made 2 red velvet cakes - one is gluten free and the other is the regular cake flour version. Both are filled and covered with cooked butter cream frosting.

Both cakes taste wonderfully! I cannot believe that one of them is gluten free! LOL. I also make some changes of the frosting. The original recipe calls for butter but I do not like the greasy taste of the butter so I substitute with "You cannot believe it's not butter". It turns out great! It keeps the same smooth texture and rich taste but less greasy and fat! Really a great cake! Thanks for the original recipe, Tommy!

Since it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, I have to make the family favorite Dutch Apple pie for the family dinner tomorrow, too. It has the gluten free topping as well. Yummy! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wrap Up Work In Florida

Don't mean to desert this blog for so long and I wonder if I still have any reader left for this blog. :)

I have been in Gainesville, Florida for work since the beginning of this month. It gets to so busy that sometimes I even forget to eat dinner. The only plus thing about working down here is the nice warm weather. It is still around 75'F (22'C) during the day time. There is an empty slot next to my workplace as the extra parking as shown in the picture. It is right next to highway so it has this Mac sign which I always walk by during the break. Finally, all the work is done and I am ready heading back to Wisconsin to bravely embrace the cold! LOL.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Spider Cupcake

The weather outside is nasty but Halloween is almost here. I finally got a day off after all the work trip so I stayed at home and made these devil food chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting. They are decorated with vanilla frosting spider webs and Skittles spiders! I think my nieces and nephew will like them when I bring the cupcakes to their house before the trick-or-treat. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Spider Attacks!

Finally came back to Wisconsin for my last long Florida trip. The weather is definitely cooler up here. All the leaves have changed colors and it is really pretty this year, gold, yellow, red, orange, and green everywhere. Halloween is coming on this weekend so there are Halloween decorations everywhere.

Somehow, giant spiders on the house seem to be the fashion this year. There are so many of them around my neighborhood!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens

It is another working trip down to Florida. The weather down here is just wonderful, sunny, 70 degree (20'C). Since I missed all the autumn colors on the north, I decied to take some time off on this past weekend to visit the local famous Kanapaha Botanical Gardens before the crazy Florida Gators vs Arkansas football game. One of its signature plants is this giant Victoria water lilies. Look at the size of the leaves and you would know why Amazon people used to put kids on the top of it! The most amzing thing is that they actually grow the water lily as annual from seeds every year in that garden!

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a 62 acre facility developed and operated by the North Florida Botanical Society, a non-profit educational organization. It is comprised of 24 major collections including Florida's largest public display of bamboos and the largest herb garden in the Southeast of USA. My favorite parts of this garden are water garden, herb garden, bamboo garden and rock garden, of course. If you look closer in the picture on the left, you will find out that it is not a falled trunk but a bending flower stalk due to the heavy flower heads! It was surely good that I visited thos garden on this past Saturday because I ended of working the whole day on this past Sunday. After all, it is a work trip.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

100 Days Of Holiday Cookies

Is there a such thing as too early to prepare for holiday cookies?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake - Gluten Free

Finally, I am back to Wisconsin after spending 2 weeks at Cleveland for work. However, it is the same crappy cold and wet weather. I don't mind the cool weather but really dislike when it rains in the fall. It knocks down all the beautiful leaves before we get to enjoy the autumn scenes. Since it is raining outside, I decide to test the Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake mix. If you have family and friends who are allergic to gluten but really like the cakes and brownies, this is something you must have then! I used the yellow cake gluten free mix as the base and made this delicious banana chocolate chip cake wit run syrup. It is a little more dense than the usual cake but much more moisture! Really delicious! You now should be able to find either gluten free yellow cake mix, chocolate cake mix and brownies mix in your usual local grocery stores. Give it a try!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Moon Cake And Autumn

This coming Saturday will be the annual Moon Festival again! It also means that fall should be in full swing now. Went to the Cleveland Chinatown and bought some moon cakes. Most of the moon cakes have the salty egg yolks which I really do not like. I still remember to get spanked by digging yolks out of the moon cakes and throwing it away when I was a kid since egg yolks were the expensive part of the moon cakes. So I bought the kind with only lotus paste in the moon cakes. That small piece of moon cake costs almost $5. The package is just too beautiful to eat and I suspect half of the cost goes into the package instead of the real cake.
Hard to believe that it gets quite chilly here in Cleveland too. And almost 60% of the leaves have changed the color if they were not knocked down by the heavy rain and gusty wind early this week. By the way, I found this in the Chinese supermarket! What a surprise! It brings back so many childhood memories. The economic condition of my family was not too good when I was young. We could not afford to buy any candies and snacks. But my mom would always try her best to get something besides the daily meals for us. This was one of the snacks we ate. Mom boiled them and we would wait anxiously next to stove for them to be done. And we were so happy to eat them. It brought us more joy than going to the theme park or having all the candies. It is amazingly how simple and cheap things could bring so much fun back to those poor days.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rain Rain CLE

The weather has been gloomy since I got here one week ago. It got worse today and became pouring rain. This work trip has almost eaten me alive so far. The temperature has start to drop and it shows on changing trees leaves to different shades of red and yellow. Fall is surely on its way. I got to visit Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and Museum at Cleveland downtown lakefront on this past Wednesday. It was a good surprise to find out how nice it is of that area next to Browns stadium. It is almost like a smaller but cleaner version of downtown Chicago. The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame building itself is also an interesting structure. There were several catering banquets going on during our visit there on a weekday night.

I got to listen to one of the feature presentations called "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen". It talks about how Bruce Springsteen created most of the songs in his first and second albums. They played different stages/mixes of the songs such as "Born in USA" and explained the lyrics changes as well. It was really well done and interesting. Of course, I spent almost an hour on listening to music jukebox of songs for all previous Hall of Fame winners, especially, the early influence ones from 40s to 60s. Quite a treat.
That was pretty much the only fun thing I did so far this week. Fortunately, my co-worker took me to Chinatown area in Cleveland downtown to have a nice dim sum lunch. That was really a bright spot in this bad weather day!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hello, Cleveland!

Travel time for work again! Hello, Cleveland, Ohio! Got to Cleveland this afternoon and picked up my rental car at Hertz. They gave me a HHR, not a bad car at all. I was surprised how cloudy it was here. Aw, well, at least, it was not cold!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Flock Of Wild Turkeys

turkeyLabor weekend has past and usually it means that summer is over. Fortunately, we still have nice sunny and warm weather so far to make up for the cool summer this year. Apparently, a flock of wild turkeys feel the same way and wander just outside my office to pick up seeds dropped from the bird feeder on the trees. Some of them were so curious about their own reflections on the window and they even pecked on the window while we stared at them inside! Of course, they got so scared when my co-workers decided to stand up from his seat to take a closer look. :) Made some more pies, cakes, and ice cream on the Labor Day weekend and I will post pictures soon!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

breadIt is so chilly recently that some of the towns in Wisconsin have already got the first frost! It is only the first day of September!

I have got a bread maker machine for a long time but I always use it to make the dough for some pastry. Recently, I got a new recipe for a yeast bread so I decide to give it a try to make the gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread on using the bread maker. Since gluten is very important to make the bread to rise with the yeast. I was really curious how it would work for the gluten-free version. It turns out great! The bread is much denser than the usual white bread but equally delicious.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Deer At The Parking Lot

Where did the summer go? Hard to believe that it is almost the end of the summer. Have been quite busy with lots of things. I went to the annual Wisconsin state fair last week and was grossed out by all the fry food on the stick. Can you believe that they even had a fry bacon covered by chocolate on the stick this year? Disturbingly bad. Besides that, we finally get some rain. It has been a dry summer and most of the lawn is yellow due to the lack of the rain. Work has been very busy and quite some late night. While I left one of the local hospital for work around 7pm yesterday, we noticed a bunch of deer hanging around the parking lots. There were 3 bucks and 2 does. Each buck was at least a 8-point one. I waved at them and they all just ran away. Guess the summer is coming to an end and the hunting season will start soon! And it will be the volunteer working time for Mexican Fiesta on this coming weekend!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Kind Of Work Environment Hazard

This is the kind of work environment hazard I have to prepare to encounter all the time...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gluten Free Raspberry Ganache Pie & Lemon Cheese Cake

Today is my best friend's birthday so I make these 2 delicious desserts for the birthday party. It seems that I am making cakes all the time in the summer! The first one is the gluten free raspberry ganache pie. The filling is made of semi-sweet chocolate, whipped cream and raspberry jam. The gluten free crust is basically gluten free version of crumbled Oreo cookies. The cold and not very sweet chocolate filling is the best during the hot summer.
The second one is the lemon cheesecake. Besides the cream cheese, it has sour cream, instant lemon pudding and French vanilla instant pudding. The crust is made of rice flour mix, finely chopped pecans, sugar and butter. The cheesecake is fluffy, light and very tasty. The vanilla actually make the lemon flavor tastes even more rich. Yummy summer treats!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Space Shuttle Cake

Cake time again! Time to celebrate 40th anniversary of human landing on the moon! Actually, no, this was the cake I made for my 9-year-old nephew's birthday. Vanilla cake with vanilla cream frosting and lots of Skittles! The boy surely liked it since he ate almost 2 big pieces of the cake! The weather has been nice so far and just hope that the summer will not stay longer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hamburger Cupcakes

Another cake post! Guess even the dogs on the plate like them! It was the birthday party of my twin 7-year-old nieces on this past Saturday. There were about 10 kids in the party so I decided to make these fun looking hamburger cupcakes. The buns were vanilla cake and the meat patty was dark chocolate cake. Of course, the ketchup, mustard and lettuce were red, yellow and green creamy vanilla frosting.

I also sprinkled sesame seeds on the top to make them look even more like the real hamburger. And it surely was a big hit in the party. Of course, there were some kids immediately scraping off the sesame seeds off the top. Guess not everybody like the sesame seeds. I got some big hugs from the kids to thank me for making the cupcakes for their party. It was a happy Saturday!

Friday, July 3, 2009

People Camp Out For Fireworks Tonight

The big July 4th US bank fireworks is going to be held tonight from 9pm to 10pm. The one-hour event is going to fill with music and sparkling fireworks. The fireworks is held at Veteran park at Milwaukee lakefront. This is the only day of the year that the city allows people to camp out in the park and watch firework. People have started to set up the tents since 7am this morning. There are usually 200,000 people in this event every year. However, it has been very cloudy and might rain tonight. Wish that the rain holds off so we can enjoy the fireworks tonight!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wings Over Waukesha

The summer is finally here! It has reached 90'F (30'C) today, heat wave! There was a small air show, "Wings Over Waukesha", in a local small city, Waukesha, Wisconsin. There were about 10 to 15 small airplanes, including some WWI and WWII airplanes such as Beech T34A, North American T28, P51, T6, Lockheed T33, etc. Of course, the main one was the B17. There were also some army ground jeep and hummer with machine guns for everybody to look at. After being in several big airshows and having seen SR-71, F14, F-15, F-16 and F-22, Thunderbirds and Blue Angels before, this was quite a small and a little bit boring airshow. But there were tons of people there and almost nowhere to park. However, for a free event, it was actually fun and I think lots of kids did enjoy the show with their fathers in the Father's Day. Hope that you all had a great Father's Day as well!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Garden Tour And Graffiti

Finally, the summer warm weather is here after the long nasty winter and chilly spring. All the flowers are blooming like crazy. My family is visiting me now so I took them to the local botanical garden which was famous for the several acres of Peonies they grew there on this past Sunday. The weather was just perfect, sunny and around low 70'F (20'C). There were hundreds of different kinds of Peonies blooming. It looked like a colorful flower river in the garden. We had a nice picnic in the garden as well.

And all the summer festivals have started since this past weekend as well. However, it also means the school is off and lots of boring kids start to wander on the street in the late night and cause some damages. My condo building just got a big ugly graffiti on the entrance wall, which is 2 floor high. Someone climbed to the 2 floor high fence next to wall in the late night and spread-painted some stupid nonsense words. It has never happened in this good neighborhood before and it is too bad that the security camera did not face that direction to catch the video of who did that. The condo association has hired contractors to clean it but they just could not completely remove it. I guess that's the downside of nice summer weather.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tour Dennis Sullivan Schooner

Just got back from the free on-deck tour of Dennis Sullivan schooner. The Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot re-creation of a three-masted, 19th century Great Lakes schooner, was built in Milwaukee and launched in autumn 2000. It was the first tall ship built in Wisconsin in more than 100 years, and it sails as "Wisconsin's Flagship". Schooners were developed in the United States in the early 1700s. The word "schooner" may be derived from the term "scoon," an old-fashioned expression meaning "to skip a stone." It spends most of the time sailing all over the sea but always comes back to Milwaukee shore for the summer. It is always interested in getting to see all the equipments on the ship. It was a nice tour if the weather could corporate a little bit with less wind and be warmer (only 45'F - 7'C)!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chilly Spring

It has been a chilly spring this year so far. The temperature is still around 60'F (15'C) during the day and 40'F (4'C) at the night. This causes some strange growing patterns of lots of flowers. Most of them have grown enormous amounts of leaves in a short time but the flowers seem to have rot or wilt problems. Fortunately, it is sunny most of the time so it is actually great. The geese babies around the work have grown like crazy! They are almost twice bigger than they were merely 2 weeks ago. Their parents just guard them everywhere and several families actually wander around to find the food, etc. Not a bit of afraid of human beings at all!