Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 Christmas Cookies Plus Bonus Cookies: Orange Pecan Cookies

Merry Christmas! Here is a bonus cookie: Orange pecan cookie. This is actually my second favorite this year. This one has grange juice, orange zest and chopped pecans on the sugar cookie based dough. Very intense flavor.

There is actually another pecan sugar cookie made this year but it was all gone before I could take pictures! That's everything of the cookies this year. Wish you have a merry Christmas and happy new year!

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 11 & 12 - White Chocolate Cherry Cookies And Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

Happy Christmas Eve! Here is the champion cookie this year, "White Chocolate Cherry Cookies"! Shortbread kind of cookie. The perfect combination of cherry flavor and not too sweet white chocolate. I did not expect that the maraschino cherries would make such a nice tasty cookie but they did! Beautiful and great taste! One of the best cookies I have ever made!

Next one is the "Double Chocolate Mint Cookies". If you like girl scout mint cookie, this one is your heavenly gift since it is much better than girl scout one! 3rd place in this year's Christmas cookies. The wonderful chocolate based dough plus the semi-sweet chocolate bits in the cookie and super minty flavor make this one instantly crowd favor!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 9 & 10 - Cardamom Snaps And Lemon Ricotta Cookies

Happy Christmas Eve's Eve! We are almost done with all holiday gluten free cookies showdown here! :) Number 9 is the "Cardamom Snaps". It is not only a new recipe but also a new spice that I would like to try. Cardamom usually is used in the Indian cooking. It has a fragrance between ginger and cinnamon. This cookie is a combination of ginger snaps and molasses cookies. It tastes very much like ginger snaps but with something different that you just cannot catch what it is. :)

Number 10 is " Lemon Ricotta Cookies". This one is adapted from the Foodnetwork Giada's recipe. It has such a strong lemon taste in cookie itself that I don't think the lemon glaze from the original recipe is necessary so I eliminate that. The ricotta cheese and the gluten free version of my rice flour mixture makes this cookie has the texture like pan cake actually. :) Very tasty but it seems to expand too much during the baking. Another one might need more work to make it perfect for the gluten free version.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 7 & 8 - Chocolate Scotcheroos And Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies

Good morning again! Snow finally stops and I am running out of butter, eggs and condensed milk to complete the rest of the cookies. Got to go shopping! It is never easy to adapt the usual recipes to gluten free but it is worth the efforts when the final cookies come out just right and nobody can tell the difference. Sometimes, the gluten free version is even better! Here are the next two Christmas cookies! Both are gluten free as well. The first one is the "Chocolate Scotcheroos". A new recipe I adapt from this year's local gas/energy company annual cookie book. It is basically an alternated version of rice crisp treats. Cook the sugar with corn syrup first to make the base syrup then add the peanut butter and rice crisp cereal. Pour, or rather say push since it is a super sticky mixture, into a 9x13 baking pan to let cool. Then, spread a layer of melted semi-sweet chocolate and butterscotch on the top and the "Scotcheroos" is born!

The next one is "Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies". From the name, you can guess the original recipe is basically to throw all leftover ingredients from other baking/cooking tasks together to make this one. It has sugar, brown sugar, eggs, crisp rice cereal, flaked coconut, rolled oats, and toffee bits. It has lots of tasty ingredients but the result is really not what I want. Very bland to my taste. This is my least favorite within all 12 cookies I make this year. But to be fair, I never really like oatmeal cookies since I think they are very bland. It actually taste much better once the cookies chilled in refrigerator for a day. Again, some of my local Wisconsin friends love it very much and tell me that it is what the oatmeal cookie supposed to be. Aw, well, at least, somebody would eat them!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 5 & 6 - Chocolate Marbled Banana Bars And PB & J Thumbprints

It snows again! It is white outside everywhere. Definitely will be a white Christmas but it also means nasty road and air conditions for those have to travel. Fortunately, I have started my holiday vacation so I can bake more cookies indoor instead. :) OK, let's come back to my 12 days of Christmas cookies. The time is running out now so I have to do a double-cookie post everyday. Here are the next two Christmas cookies! Both are gluten free as well. The first one is the "Chocolate Marbled Banana Bars". Another new recipe I discover this year and it is one of the all time best I would say! If you love any kind of banana and chocolate combination such as "monkey chunky ice cream", this bar cookie will make you feel like that you are in heaven! The wonderful sugar cookie dough base is divided into 2 parts: one is mixed with smashed ripe banana and chopped pecans, the other is mixed with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Then, both doughs are placed in the baking pan in layers to create the marbled effect. The texture is more like cake and the taste is wonderful. Heavenly banana chocolate cookie!

The next one is another new recipe (surprise, surprise), "PB & J Thumbprints". This one actually does not turn out to be as good as I hope. However, it is still a great taste peanut butter cookie. It just needs more tweak to make the texture right for the gluten free version. The peanut butter sugar cookie base is just a little bit too crisp for my taste. However, some of my friends love it! So I guess everybody has different taste. I decide to use the raspberry jam to fill the thumbprint part to make it stand out more compared to the strong peanut butter cookie base. It is a much better combination with peanut butter than other flavor of the jam. Nevertheless, it is a good looking holiday peanut butter cookie.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Cookies 3 & 4 - Coconut Candy Bars & Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars

Happy holidays again! Another cold and sunny day! Today is the last Sunday before Christmas so all the crazy shopping crowds have been out on the road to pack all the stores in order to get the holiday shopping done. Of course, Packers game today too! Here are the third and fourth cookies for the 12 Days of Christmas cookies! All gluten free too! The third one is the "Coconut Candy Bars". This one is a new recipe I try this year and it instantly becomes the crowd favorite! Original recipe has the graham crackers and almond base crust but I have to adapt it with special gluten-free flour mixture with toasted pecans. It then covers with a layer of coconut and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Then, another layer of chopped toasted pecans. Then, a whole layer of melted dark chocolate. Wish you could witness how fast people gulp those bars down!

The next one is another new recipe, "Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars". This is another super delicious one if you like cheese cake and butterscotch flavors. The crust tastes like the nice shortbread. The cream cheese layer is flavored with lemon juice/zest and sweetened condensed milk flavored cream cheese. The interesting thing is that you cannot taste the sour lemon at all. It work perfectly with the cream cheese and not too sweet. Then, the topping is delicious oatmeal and butterscotch crumble mixture. Another party crowd favorite!

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 Days Of Christmas Cookies 1 & 2 - Double Vanilla Delights & Chocolate Pecan Bars

Happy holidays! It has been cold and snow here in Wisconsin recently. The temperature has dipped down to 5'F (-15'C) and windchill -5'F (-26'C). Snow and ice everywhere so it definitely will be a white Christmas. Work has been very busy so I barely can find time to make the cookies and post here. Anyway, here are the first and second cookies for the 12 Days of Christmas cookies! Especially, all these cookies are gluten free! The first one is the "Double Vanilla Delights". It has the wonderful texture like Mexican wedding cookies with chopped pecans. The frosting is made with fresh cooked vanilla bean mixture. It is a vanilla heaven!

The second one is a new recipe that I want to try this year, "Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars". I always like pecan pie but it usually is too sweet to have more than one piece. This cookie bar version of the pecan pie keeps the same sweetness and texture of the pecan pie with the good sugar cookie base crust. In addition, it adds semi-sweet chocolate chips on the top. Yummy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Deer Hunted

deerIt is still the deer hunting season in Wisconsin and co-worker got a big doe. It still sits on his truck on the parking lot at work now. Hope that all my blog friends in USA had a good Thanksgiving. I made several desserts for the Thanksgiving and I will post them soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Bars

Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake BarsTime passes fast and it is almost the end of autumn. Most of the trees have completely lost all the leaves and the weather forecast predicts that it might snow a little this week. It should not be a surprise since it is almost the time of Thanksgiving here in USA.

Since it is the season of the fall and pumpkin is the main theme for the fall, I decided to make some desserts with pumpkin. The base of this pumpkin streusel cheesecake bars can be made with gingersnap cookie and oatmeal cookie mix. However, I decided to make it completely gluten free by using rice flour, tapioca flour, and corn meal mixed with chopped pecans, brown sugar and butter. The cheesecake filling has pumpkin puree, cream cheese, pumpkin pie spice, eggs, rice flour, and skim milk. I reserved part of the base to use as the toppings. It turns out great! The crunchy toppings and smooth cream cheese plus the graham crackers kind of the base make this to be one nice autumn dessert!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes!

GondolaHappy Halloween! It has been a long time since I got time to post anything here. The work gets so busy that I barely have time to do anything else. The autumn actually is almost half way through and most of the trees have lost leaves.

Just made this cupcakes for my nieces and nephew for Halloween! German chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Decorated them like mummy, big eyes and nightmare ghost! :) Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back From The Trip Home

GondolaI cannot believe that it has been almost a month since I post last entry! This blog has become monthly event now! :) I have been very busy on traveling for both fun and work. I went back to Asia to visit my parents. It was great to spend some time with my family again. We even went to ride the Maokong Gondola. It was a long ride since the total length of the gondola line was 4.03 km (2.504 miles). The whole line had 4 stations and it was like a shape of number "7". So that means there were a spot that the gondola had to do a 90 degree sharp turn. It had been reported that the gondola system had some problems since its opening in 2007 but our ride went smoothly and was quite enjoyable. We enjoyed the view and the sunny weather.

Beanie BabiesIt was also very nice to spend the Mid-autumn festival with them. It has been a long time since I went home during that time of the year. The weather was just too hot and humid for me. It was sunny and around 95'F degrees (35'C) and almost 90% humidity all the time. I could not stop sweating even just walked for 5 minutes outdoor. The good thing was that I got to eat lots of delicious moon cakes with all the nice interesting new flavors and I gained several pounds! :) Oh, and I saw these beanie babies machines all over main shopping centers back home. People were really into them and kept trying their luck but very few got anything. :) And it surely is a big weather change when I come back to Wisconsin, US since the temperature changes from 95 degree to 45 degree (35'C to 8'C). Fall is definitely here now. Yawn! And wish my jeg lag goes away soon!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

Life has been so busy recently that I barely have time to update my blog! The summer is short on the north here in Wisconsin, USA so we have to make the best use of the warm weather while it still lasts. As a a matter of the fact, some plants/trees have started to lose leaves even though it is still around 80'F (25'C). That's most likely due to the gradually shorten daylight. We went to visit Las Vegas last week to get away from all the work stuff and run into the heat! LOL. We stayed at the brand new hotel/casino, "Aria" in city center at Las Vegas. It is a very modern design building. As you can see from the picture, the roof of the lobby almost looks like a UFO at night time. And we were so lucky to encounter one of the few rainy days when we got there. Talking about luck.

Besides the usual casino tour, we also went to visit the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. It was the 10th anniversary of the place but everything inside was almost exactly as I visited it 10 years ago. Quite a waste of money to me since there is nothing new to see. At least, they still have those big jellyfish! If you have never been there, it is still a place worth visiting, especially, for kids. We also went to see the Circus de Soleil show, "Le Reve" at Wynn. It was very good and had some amazing stage designs. But overall, it was not as good as the other show, "O", since both were using water as the main components. Overall, it was a great vacation. Now, back to work! :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Ganache Cake

It will be my best friend's birthday on this coming Sunday so I made this gluten free chocolate ganache cake for him. It is a 2-layer chocolate cake covered and filled with chocolate ganache. The cake is based on a recipe from Ina Garten. I made several changes to adapt it to be gluten free and more moisture. Of course, the secret ingredient, brewed coffee, definitely makes this cake even more chocolaty!

There was a big flood caused by record rain here in Milwaukee last Thursday night. You can click the link to see some slide show of the flood. It flooded most of the main streets, highway, houses and created a big sinkhole in the middle of the road with a car falling in it. My basement got flooded as well and the cleaning and drying work are still on going. It is really tiresome to go through this again. Aw, well, forget about it and let's go eat some cakes instead!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Three Kids Birthday Treats!

Busy busy summer days! After hosting an out-of-town friend on last Thursday day night, I had to use my Friday night and Saturday to make 3 birthday treats for my 10-year-old nephew and twin 8-year-old nieces for their birthday party on this past Sunday. Their birthdays are just one day apart so I really had to work hard and almost no weekend! One of the twin girls wanted a cake so I made this circus tent cake. It was a pineapple cake with grape jelly filling and lemon frosting. It had roof and windows made of fruit roll-up candies and door and chimney made of chocolate bars! The cake was moisture and delicious!

The other half One of the twin girls just loves anything purple. So I made this palm size of chocolate chop cookie with a big two-tone purple vanilla frosting rose for her. The rose petals contain 2 shades of purple colors. In addition, she also wanted lemon sorbet so I made that too!

The boy wanted a big chocolate chip cookie cake as the one he saw in the bakery store. So I actually went to the bakery section in the grocery for some research. I ended of making the classic toll house chocolate chip cookies in 8-in round pan size. Of course, this one was made in my gluten free version. Lots of desserts for everybody in the kids birthday party and it was a success!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 4th Celebration Desserts

It was a nice July 4th long weekend in USA. The weather was wonderful, sunny, hot but with breeze. Did lots of yard works, watched fireworks and parade. In addition, we had some friends and family coming to visit for several good meals. I made 2 desserts to celebrate the Independence Day weekend. The first one was a strawberry cranberry pie since it is the season for fresh strawberry. In order to make it gluten free, I had to make the pie crust from scratch. It is actually a shortbread kind of crust, which holds all the liquid from cooked strawberry and cranberry very well. I used the frozen cranberry to add some tangy to the sweetness of the strawberry. The topping was made of oatmeal, rice flour, butter and sugar. It turned out to be a great pie!

The 2nd dessert was a gluten free version of pineapple upside down cake. The base was the stored bought yellow cake mix. The topping was the caramelized pineapple with cherry. It was just OK since the cake was a little bit dry. I used to add instant pudding mix or sour cream to improve the taste and texture but decided not to this time. And what a mistake I made! Will not repeat that mistake again! Overall, it was a great weekend! And there were so many fireflies outside in the garden at night time to make it look like small fireworks in the yard! Hope that all my US friends had a great 4th of July weekend too!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Eight Treasure Rice For Dragon Boat Festival

The summer is here finally and it was Dragon Boat festival on this past Thursday. That was one of the three big festivals for Chinese besides Chinese new year and moon festival. Usually, Chinese people make bamboo leaves wrapped rice dumplings to celebrate the festival. But I decide to make this beautiful and delicious "eight treasure rice" dish instead since I do not have access to the bamboo leaves here for rice dumplings.

The "Eight Treasure Rice" dish is usually made in Chines New year. It has sweet rice, sweet red bean paste inside, and six kinds of candied fruits to make it "eight treasure". It is a famous sweet Chinese desserts. Sometimes, it is translated as "eight treasure rice pudding", which is very strange to me since it is nothing to do with the soupy kind of pudding. This dish is best served in warm. Yummy! Besides the food, my busy summer volunteer season for American Red Cross as a first aid provider has started as well. So far, I have not treated any victim with serious injury yet. But I think that will change when the big 11-day music festival in Milwaukee, Summerfest, starts on this coming Thursday. By the way, happy father's day to all the fathers in US today!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Desserts!

It is Memorial Day holiday! So we need a cake! This is a very delicious moisture gluten free cake. It is yellow cake based with French vanilla pudding mix added to the cake batter. Then, lots of thin cut Fuji apple pieces were added. Once the cake was done and cooled, a caramel glaze was drizzled on the top of the cake. Can you say yummy caramel apple? :)

Of course, with the weather gets so hot, who would not want some homemade smooth sorbet? So I used up the fresh strawberry and mango in the refrigerator to make these nice sorbets! Cold, smooth, and full of fresh fruits taste. Once you have the homemade sorbets, you will never want to buy it from the stores! Hope that everybody has a nice weekend!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Hope that all the moms have a happy mother's day today! My mom lives far away on the other side of the earth so I cannot spend the day on celebrating this holiday with her. But I did try to send Mother's day cards and call her in advance to let her know that she's always on my mind.

Since I just came back from a work trip from Florida, I did not have time to make a cake for my best friend's mom and sister in the Mother's day. I decide to make this gluten free lemon bar adapted from Ina Garten's recipe for them instead. It has the zing of lemon but neither too sweet nor too sour. And it has wonderful nice crust made of butter, sugar and gluten free flour. I am happy to see that both ladies love the bars very much! Hope that you have a great Mother's day as well!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lemon Raspberry Cake With Lemon Whipped Pudding Frosting

Where did the time go? Cannot believe that I have not post for almost a month. I had a good birthday party celebrated by my friends and family earlier in April. For once, I did not have to make the cake! LOL. Just kidding, I actually enjoy make different kinds of cakes. In addition, spring allergy hits me in full speed this month that I almost sneeze and have itchy eyes every day. But it is still nice to see flowers and green leaves everywhere. I also have been very busy on teaching CPR/AED pro as a volunteer instructor for Red Cross.

Now let's come back to cake. :) Yesterday, I made this 3-layer lemon cake with raspberry jam fillings cake for my niece's birthday. The frosting was made of instant pudding, milk and cool whipped. It was very light, delicious, and not too sweet. More like the European or Asian pastry. The only problem was that the decoration writing bled out all over the cake. I was worried if the usual cake frosting would work as writing on the pudding frosting and my worry became true. Oh, well, at least, everybody loved the taste of the cake.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Desserts

The weather was beautiful in the past two days. It was even the record high in temperatures 2 days ago. It is surely nice to enjoy the 80 degree (25'C) sunny days in early April. Of course, it goes right back to 40 degrees (5'C) and rains whole day long.

The short warm weather does boost all the plants and flowers to grow. All trees have leaves and there are Daffodils, Hyacinthe, even Tulips blooming everywhere. The crocus have almost done with blooming. This also means that the allergy season has come back as well. It is no fun to sneeze and have itchy eyes all day long.

Got invited to Easter dinner tomorrow so I decided to try make 2 new kinds of desserts for it. Both are gluten free version so nobody is going to have problems to eat either.

The first one is the "coconut pecan oatmeal cake". The cake part contains both gluten-free flour mix and oatmeal with cinnamon and nutmeg. It has a nice spiced cake taste and very moisture. The topping is made of brown sugar, pecans, shredded coconut, milk, and butter. The topping is applied after the cake is done then the whole thing is put into broiler to caramelized the topping.

The second one is the "apple rum cake". This one is more like a loaf cake. It has chopped apples, raisins and rum in the cake mixture. It actually does not taste that much of rum in the bread since most of it has been absorbed in the raisins. And the chopped apples give it a better texture and fruity taste. However, personally, I prefer the coconut pecan oatmeal cake more since it has that feeling of "comfort food" for the holiday. Hope that everybody has a nice Easter day week and don't eat too much chocolate eggs or jelly beans!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Leaves Weaving

Spring is finally here! Today is just a beautiful sunny day with breeze and the temperature is around 60 degrees (15'C). Lots of flowers such as Crocus have started to bloom and the Daffodil and the Tulips have started to grow leaves and flower buds too. Today is also Palm Sunday and my best friend's mom got palm leaves from her church and asked me to help weave them based on an old instruction she got from a book. It took me about 40 minutes to learn and get it done! They turned out great and almost look like wheat! Hope that the nice weather stays since you never know in Wisconsin this time of the year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spiced Apple Cake

It was St Patrick's Day here in US yesterday and it was green dress everywhere (including me!). The weather is incredibly nice, sunny and around 60'F (15'C). It is usually still around 32'F (0'C) this time of the year so we are lucky this year. So I made a gluten free version of spiced apple cake. It is more like a coffee cake. The cake base contains cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and chopped apple. The cake is topped with very thin sliced apple and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Once it is fully baked, it has a layer of nice cinnamon caramel with apple on the top. Yummy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lemon Maple Rice Pudding

The weather finally starts to get warmer and maybe spring will be earlier this year. Of course, there is still ice and snow everywhere. I made the lemon maple rice pudding for Oscar watching last night again. This yummy rice pudding made of maple syrup, lemon zest, eggs, rice, raisins, and nutmeg. The custard like of topping and texture makes this the best for spring dessert or side dish. The maple syrup provides the rich sweet taste instead of plain sugar. And I am happy that Sandra Bullock won best leading actress. Her performance in "The Blind Side" was just great! A great movie worth watching!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Silver World

It comes, it wanders around and now it is gone and leaves a silver and messy wet world here. I am talking about snow as you have guessed. :) Got several inches (10 cm) last night again and it was a mess for the morning commute to work. Finally, I got to relax for several days after the last trip back from Florida and ate all the year cake and "Fa" cake. Sometimes, I just appreciate the peaceful life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year! It's Tiger Year!

It was Chinese new year yesterday and this post was supposed to come out yesterday. However, I got stuck at Atlanta airport on the way back from Florida last Saturday so I really did not have the time and energy to complete it yesterday. After spending 14 hours at the Atlanta airport and being re-booked 3 times to different flights and been told 4 times of gate changes, I finally could get a flight to a small town, Appleton, Wisconsin (2-hour north of Milwaukee) that night. Otherwise, I would be stuck there for another 48 hours and the airline would not pay for meals or hotels since they claimed that the delay was caused by the "2-inches" (5 cm) of snow. What a joke for most of us live on the north that experience several feet (30 cm or more) of snow all the time in the winter! Anyway, I finally got home around mid-night on this past Saturday and I just did not have the energy to post until now. :)

Good thing is that I have already made both the red bean year cake and the brown sugar "Fa"cake (means prosperous) before I left for Florida one week ago. The year cake is made of glutenous rice flour, red bean, and brown sugar. After steaming it for about 30 to 40 minutes, it came out just right and had the beautiful color. The "Fa" cake is made of baking powder, rice flour, and brown sugar and went through the similar steaming process. The cracking on the top of the "Fa" cake is very important since it looks like the smile and means that the business and the fortunate in the upcoming new year will be wonderful! Since my "Fa" cakes all have nice looking cracks. Hope this will be a great tiger year!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cold Rainy Days In Florida

I have been in Florida since this past Superbowl Sunday night for work. Thought I could escape the snow storm on the north but all I got here so far was cold or rainy days. It was pouring rain all day long yesterday and finally the sun comes out today. But it is very brisky, windy and the temperture is just 30 degrees (-1'C). Guess I should not complain because at least I do not have to shovel 14 inches (36 cm)of snow!

Friday, January 29, 2010


It is so cold today even with all the sunshine! It is only 1'F (-17'C) outside and windchill -9'F (-23'C). I really want to wrap myself like a mummy before I go outside. Guess the winter is still here!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Long Winter

Finally, it is getting a little bit warmer today after the long stretch of cold. It has been under 8'F (-15'C) for almost 3 weeks now and it finally gets up to 20'F (-7'C) today. Everything is covered by snow and ice. Very beautiful under the clear bright cold sky. Too bad that it is just the beginning of a long cold 2010 winter.