Monthly Archives: July 2012

white chocolate blueberry cookies

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These are awesome! I’m a huge cookie fanatic. I prefer cookies to other types of desserts because they’re simple yet delicious. I found this amazing recipe for chocolate chip cookies and wanted to branch out and try different flavors. I love blueberries because it gives the cookie such a rich flavor but it needed a little sweetness so I threw in the white chocolate chips. If you can find white chocolate bars then you should use that instead because the white chocolate chips aren’t 100% chocolate. I’m sure you’ve noticed that if you melt white chocolate chips, you’ll get a weird ivory cream/translucent color. If you haven’t, you’ve been warned. I think it’s fine to use the chips in cookies but if you’re melting it for cake pops or strawberries then you might want to consider using either white chocolate bars or white candy melts/coating.
I was waiting for the follow up to my job interview for a social work position and needed some extra cash to help with bills. I decided to sell some of my baking to friends who have been bothering me to sell them. Good thing for friends like that am I right? 🙂 Anyway, I managed to sell over 2 dozen white chocolate blueberry cookies and a dozen symphony brownies. I’m also venturing into cupcakes because I’m known as the cupcake freak. Cookie fanatic and cupcake freak..nice eh? I did make some good cash selling the cookies but I still have to find more customers! I also got the results for my interview today and I didn’t get the position. Somehow, I’m not that bothered by it. Sure it was good money (52,000 a year) but I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. It would have given me experience in the work field but I like baking. I don’t think you’ll see me in culinary school though. I’d never have the patience to make anything that pretty. Hence the blog name, fail sweetly..haha 🙂
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Here’s the recipe..
White Chocolate Blueberry Cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 sticks butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until fluffy.
3. Add in eggs one at a time.
4. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix.
5. Mix the baking soda in the water and add to mixer.
6. Add three cups of flour. You can add it all at once or add one cup at a time. I add it all at once.
7. Once the dough is incorporated, add in the white chocolate chips and give it a good stir to get all the chips into the dough.
8. Add the blueberries once the chips are incorporated. Be careful not to squash the blueberries. It will be a little difficult getting all of them thoroughly mixed.
9. Using a ice cream scoop, place the cookie dough onto a silicone mat lined cookie sheet. I usually do 12 cookies per sheet.
10. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Check at 10 and if it’s not done then add on time. It really depends on your oven.
11. Let the cookies cool and enjoy. The recipe makes approximately 3 dozen medium sized cookies.

I love these cookies. It’s not too sweet but still flavorful because of the blueberries. All the people that I’ve made these for always love it. Even my sister likes these! She usually only eats about one or two chocolate chip ones so I know they were good if she says they’re good. They make great party favors and something to snack on. Until next time, keep reading.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

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symphony brownies

I’m finally back! I spent the weekend being super nervous/anxious over my job interview for a social worker position. I’ve been in formal interviews before but wow, they asked me so many questions that led to so many other questions. They said they would contact me this week so hopefully I hear from them. It’s a pretty decent position for someone who just graduated college. Fingers crossed! 🙂

I made these symphony brownies last week. The name comes from the chocolate bars used in the recipe. This is Christy Jordan’s recipe. These are ah-mazing when you’re craving a snack and you take them out of the fridge. I’m not sure how hot it is anywhere else because California has been pretty good but keep these babies in the fridge. If you don’t you will get a pile of mush.

Here’s the recipe..
Symphony Brownies (adapted from Christy Jordan)
1 box brownie mix, mixed according to box instructions (I used the fudge brownie kind)
1 9×9 glass pan
2 4.25 oz symphony bars with toffee and almonds
spray for the glass pan
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1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. Spray glass pan and pour half of brownie batter in. Make sure to smooth the top so it’s even.
3. Place the two chocolate bars on top of the brownie batter.
4. Pour remaining batter on top of chocolate bars and smooth the top.
5. Bake for 50 minutes and let completely cool before cutting. If you cut it and it’s still hot, the chocolate will ooze out and make it look like a pile of mush. I let mine refrigerate for 24 hours. It was spankin delicious.

Hopefully I’ll get to more baking and cooking this summer. I realized that my summer has turned into a boring marathon. The heat makes me want to stay in my room and sit in front of my fan all day. I’ve been meaning to go to Oldtown Pasadena and hiking at Eaton Canyon but I’ve just been too lazy. I haven’t even been to the mall once this summer! Not that it’s a bad thing since I’m saving money and at that. I’ve been so unmotivated to cook or bake anything because my kitchen gets super hot even with the air conditioner and fan on. My baba told me to stop complaining because this is how it was like everyday back where he grew up. That’s when I knew I needed to shut up, haha. That or get a job where it’s air conditioned. Thanks for reading.

I forgot to mention that my first blog anniversary was this month. I completely forgot to post something delicious for it 😦 Sorry! It feels kind of weird to have been blogging this long. It seriously seems that only yesterday I was starting out my blog.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

strawberry cheesecake

First off, let me say that I do not like cheesecake. I hear all these people all hyped up about cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory but to be honest, it’s WAYYYY too overpriced. I made my own and not only did I like the taste better but it didn’t make my stomach feel funny. At first I thought it was because I was lactose intolerant but that didn’t make sense because I eat cheese, drink milk, and consume all sorts of dairy products. Everything except cheesecake. However, I made my own because I wanted to see if it would actually work. I did it without a springfoam pan because I couldn’t find them at the grocery store.
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Here’s the recipe..
Strawberry Cheesecake
crust:
1 1/2 packages of cinnamon flavored graham crackers crumbled (each box has 3 packages)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon almond extract

filling:
2 packages of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar

topping:
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
14 oz fresh strawberries sliced (approx 2 cups)

1. Using a meat mallet, crush graham crackers until crumbled.
2. In a small bowl, melt butter in microwave using 30 second intervals until all butter is liquid.
3. Add butter and almond extract to graham crackers and press into the bottom of a 9×9 cake pan.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream together.
6. Beat in the sugar until combined.
7. Mix in the eggs one at a time.
8. Pour filling onto crust and bake for an hour.
9. While the cheesecake is baking, make the syrup. In a small sauce pan, add the water and sugar until sugar is dissolved.
10. Add 1 cup of strawberries to the sugar mixture until the mixture liquid turns a shade of red. Do NOT bring to boil or the strawberries will taste like mush.
11. When the liquid turns a shade of red, add in another cup of strawberries and stir to combine with all the syrup. When all the strawberries are covered in the syrup, turn off the heat and take syrup off the stove top.
12. When the cheesecake is done baking, poke a couple of holes on top with a toothpick and pour the syrup on top.
13. Let cool to room temperature before putting in refrigerator.
14. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Overnight is definitely best if you can wait that long.
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I was made aware by my mother that you can eat this cheesecake at any time of the day. She had a slice for dinner the same day I made it and then another one for breakfast the next day. Apparently, she also brought a slice to work for lunch. So yeah, it works for whatever floats your boat! 🙂 Enjoy it.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

stir fry sugar snap peas with shiitake mushrooms

The weather and I have a bone to pick. It’s the middle of July and it’s hot but the sky is cloudy and it rains. My allergies are totally acting up. Not cool weather, not cool. My sister and my mom wanted me to make dinner today so I spent about 2 1/2 hours in the kitchen with my baba. It was SO hot. It was pretty neat because I had my stir fry cookbook out and I was telling my baba the stories about the people in the book. It was interesting to me because he related to most of them. He also told me cool stories about my uncles which I found super interesting. He usually doesn’t talk to much about his life before he came to the United States. I think it’s mostly because he probably thinks I don’t find it interesting. I was telling him about a story of a lady in the cookbook and how she grew up with 11 brothers and sisters. I told my baba that she said there were never any leftovers with so many people. He told me that during that time, food was scarce. He said that he barely had any rice to eat and a lot of people starved to death or had severe cases of malnutrition. He said he was extremely lucky even though he was never full at the end of every meal. When he told me that story, I felt like I was connected to his extended family who still live back in Hong Kong. It’s difficult to hear stories like that and not feel like I’m extremely lucky to have been born in the United States. Sometimes I take my world of opportunities for granted and it was such a treat to hear him talk about people back where he grew up. I have only been to China and Hong Kong once but that was when I was 3 or 4 years old. I can’t remember much so I haven’t seen his extended family. As I grew up, some of them would come to visit but not many. A trip to the United States was too expensive. I don’t know how to make a lot of Chinese dishes. I can make beef hor fun or chow fun and shrimp and eggs. Those are traditional dishes whereas char siu is more Westernized. I can make egg rolls too but I find that to be Westernized as well. It’s true that you don’t know authentic Chinese cooking unless you know a homecook. Those are the treasures because I can tell you from experience, the homecook Chinese dishes are the best ones. The whole chop suey and kung pao chicken is not very appealing to me. I prefer my parents cooking versus Chinese takeout dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I love honey walnut shrimp but I still love homecooking the best. My uncle is a chef at a Chinese restaurant and I’ve heard funny stories from my cousins about his lack of ability to be a homecook. His style of cooking is more of the restaurant Chinese food whereas my grandma’s cooking is very traditional and homemade. To this day, she is still the best cook I know. She can make anything taste good! 🙂
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Here’s the recipe..
Stir Fry Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms (adapted from Grace Young)
1/4 cup chicken broth (if possible get it at an asian supermarket! those are more flavorful than the american kind)
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, washed and strings removed
1 1/2 cups diced shiitake mushrooms (cut each mushroom into four pieces)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a small bowl, combine rice wine with chicken broth and soy sauce.
2. Heat a frying pan or a wok over high heat. Do not use medium high. Stir fries requires exact temperatures to get the best results.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan or wok and swirl it to cover the entire pan/wok.
4. Add the minced ginger and stir fry for about 10 seconds. Do not wait longer or else your ginger will burn.
5. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for about another 40 seconds until they’ve soaked up the oil.
6. Pour the chicken broth mixture over the mushrooms and stir fry for another 40 seconds. When most of the broth mixture has vaporized, add in the last tablespoon of oil, sugar snap peas, and sprinkle in the salt. Please do so as it is written in order.
7. Stir fry snap peas until they turn bright green. It shouldn’t take long. I like my snap peas to be crunchy so a minute should be good. If you leave them on for longer than 2-3 minutes, the skins of your snap peas will look like an old persons skin. Very wrinkly and kinda gross since it’s food.
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Enjoy the recipe! It’s very authentic but restaurant flavorful. I love it because it doesn’t take very long to make this stir fry. Altogether it probably takes about 5-10 minutes. It makes an excellent side dish. Even my baba said it was good! He made me leave it on the wok longer because he was like “IT HAS TO BE COOKED!” I laughed because when I first thought it was done, it tasted just like my mom’s. That’s how I knew it was good, haha. Thanks for reading 🙂

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

quick char siu fried rice

When it comes to cooking, I’m kind of super lazy..just in case I haven’t told you all yet. I don’t like prepping because it takes forever and I’m not very good at it even if it doesn’t take forever. I thrive on recipes that I can whip up in 5 to 10 minutes. Yes, it’s all because I’m lazy. I still have my college student genes stuck in me. I scanned the fridge in the morning and there really wasn’t anything appetizing. I decided to check the freezer and my eyes stared at the packaged of frozen mixed vegetables. FRIED RICE! So I double checked the fridge to make sure it had leftover rice and a meat. It did 🙂 I used Jasmine rice in this fried rice because that’s the kind that my parents buy. I think they buy it in bulk at Costco or somewhere like that. One of the biggest reasons why people can’t make a tasty fried rice is because they use cooked rice. You need to use either frozen rice (cooked and frozen) or refrigerated rice. The crispy aspect of the rice comes from the fact that it’s frozen and cooking in the oil. If you use cooked rice right after you cook it then it’s going to be a nasty looking glob. Nasty looking globs do not make good fried rice. Also, I prefer to season my fried rice with a pinch of salt and the juice of the meat I’m using. I had leftover char siu (bbq pork). If you don’t like doing that then you can use dark soy sauce and a bit of black sesame oil. I don’t think it’s a big deal if you use light soy sauce BUT I prefer the dark kind because I like the flavor better. Regular sesame oil and black sesame oil are different. The black sesame oil has a distinct taste and is a lot stronger than the regular kind. So black sesame oil and dark soy sauce 🙂

Here’s the recipe..
Quick Char Siu Fried Rice
1 cup leftover frozen or refrigerated rice
3/4 frozen mixed vegetables
3/4 leftover meat with the sauce (I used char siu)
1 egg
a pinch of salt or soy sauce for more flavoring (optional)
oil for drizzling
sesame oil and soy sauce for seasoning (optional)
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1. In a medium frying pan, cook your vegetables in oil until it softens and the ice is gone.
2. Add in the rice and mix together. Make sure the rice is not clumped together.
3. Add the meat with the sauce. Be sure not to add TOO much sauce or else that will make the rice very glob like. Also, if your meat doesn’t have enough sauce to season the rice, use soy sauce and sesame oil. Just eyeball it and drizzle it over your rice. You’ll want the rice to be a light brown color. Dark brown is a no no.
4. Stir that together and crack an egg over the rice.
5. Mix the egg with the rice right away so it takes the form of scrambled eggs instead of sunny side up.
6. Add salt for taste if you need to! Be sure to taste it before you add the salt. If your sauce is very well seasoned, you probably won’t need it.

Enjoy! 🙂 This makes perfectly two servings so only one serving and maybe a little leftover if you’re hungry. I’m going out to get symphony bars tomorrow! I saw a recipe on Southern Plate for Symphony Brownies. It looked so good! That and my mom bought these huge chocolate bars and one of them happens to be a symphony bar. I’m not a huge fan of milk chocolate because very often I find it too sweet. Symphony has changed my mind! It had almonds and toffee chips in it. So delicious 🙂

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

quick char siu fried rice

When it comes to cooking, I’m kind of super lazy..just in case I haven’t told you all yet. I don’t like prepping because it takes forever and I’m not very good at it even if it doesn’t take forever. I thrive on recipes that I can whip up in 5 to 10 minutes. Yes, it’s all because I’m lazy. I still have my college student genes stuck in me. I scanned the fridge in the morning and there really wasn’t anything appetizing. I decided to check the freezer and my eyes stared at the packaged of frozen mixed vegetables. FRIED RICE! So I double checked the fridge to make sure it had leftover rice and a meat. It did 🙂 I used Jasmine rice in this fried rice because that’s the kind that my parents buy. I think they buy it in bulk at Costco or somewhere like that. One of the biggest reasons why people can’t make a tasty fried rice is because they use cooked rice. You need to use either frozen rice (cooked and frozen) or refrigerated rice. The crispy aspect of the rice comes from the fact that it’s frozen and cooking in the oil. If you use cooked rice right after you cook it then it’s going to be a nasty looking glob. Nasty looking globs do not make good fried rice. Also, I prefer to season my fried rice with a pinch of salt and the juice of the meat I’m using. I had leftover char siu (bbq pork). If you don’t like doing that then you can use dark soy sauce and a bit of black sesame oil. I don’t think it’s a big deal if you use light soy sauce BUT I prefer the dark kind because I like the flavor better. Regular sesame oil and black sesame oil are different. The black sesame oil has a distinct taste and is a lot stronger than the regular kind. So black sesame oil and dark soy sauce 🙂

Here’s the recipe..
Quick Char Siu Fried Rice
1 cup leftover frozen or refrigerated rice
3/4 frozen mixed vegetables
3/4 leftover meat with the sauce (I used char siu)
1 egg
a pinch of salt or soy sauce for more flavoring (optional)
oil for drizzling
sesame oil and soy sauce for seasoning (optional)
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1. In a medium frying pan, cook your vegetables in oil until it softens and the ice is gone.
2. Add in the rice and mix together. Make sure the rice is not clumped together.
3. Add the meat with the sauce. Be sure not to add TOO much sauce or else that will make the rice very glob like. Also, if your meat doesn’t have enough sauce to season the rice, use soy sauce and sesame oil. Just eyeball it and drizzle it over your rice. You’ll want the rice to be a light brown color. Dark brown is a no no.
4. Stir that together and crack an egg over the rice.
5. Mix the egg with the rice right away so it takes the form of scrambled eggs instead of sunny side up.
6. Add salt for taste if you need to! Be sure to taste it before you add the salt. If your sauce is very well seasoned, you probably won’t need it.

Enjoy! 🙂 This makes perfectly two servings so only one serving and maybe a little leftover if you’re hungry. I’m going out to get symphony bars tomorrow! I saw a recipe on Southern Plate for Symphony Brownies. It looked so good! That and my mom bought these huge chocolate bars and one of them happens to be a symphony bar. I’m not a huge fan of milk chocolate because very often I find it too sweet. Symphony has changed my mind! It had almonds and toffee chips in it. So delicious 🙂

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

my immigrant parents

I haven’t been cooking or baking like crazy at home. Somehow I seemed to have lost myself in my parents cooking..which I still and probably will always believe is better than mine. Have you ever heard the phrase “it just doesn’t taste like my mamas”? It’s always been true for me. I can make something that my mommy makes and it’s her recipe but the end result just doesn’t satisfy my taste buds. Maybe it’s because I believe it will taste good because my mommy makes it for me. Growing up in a traditional Chinese household is no walk in the park. True to the stereotype, my parents were/still are very strict when it comes to behavior and academics. I think one time I had a conversation with my mommy about boys and she said I couldn’t date till I graduated from college. I will always miss and love my mommy’s cooking. It’s very different growing up in a traditional Chinese household when you are set in your “American” ways like I was as a teenager. I never fully appreciated what my parents sacrificed for me as a child. My sister and I were born in the United States but my parents are both immigrants. As I grew up, I never had that lovey dovey relationship with my mommy. Most of the time I was afraid to tell her things for fear that it would upset her. Her wisdom is extremely important to me unless it comes to fashion or my need for sweets. Although she’s not the type to be throwing around the words I love you daughter, she showed her love in other ways. I learned my love of cooking, baking, and food from my mother. Even though my baba (father) cooks better than I do, I will never hesitate to point out that my mommy’s cooking is the best. It always has been and always will be. I remember as a child she would always pick out the best parts of dishes to give to my sister and I. For my mother, it was always the cheek of steamed fish or a meaty lobster piece in garlic lobster noodles. For my baba, it was the drumstick of hainese chicken. Because of my baba, I have always thought that the best part of a chicken is the drumstick. Therefore, I will only eat that part. Yes, I’m a bit biased. BaBa has taught me the way. My sister still laughes at me till this day because every time there’s chicken for dinner, I will automatically reach for the drumstick. Sometimes she’s generous and she let’s me have both of them! Through my parents encouragement I have been able to keep up with this blog. I can’t peel an apple with a knife. I have to use a peeler. For those of you who use a peeler also, you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about. My baba also had a way of peeling an apple with a knife. The skin would be in a long curly circle sort of like ribbon. I always tried to imitate it but mine broke every time. As a result, I just have baba peel my apples. He has never objected to my request although he doesn’t hesitate to tease me about not being able to do it. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to post more recipes. I’ve been busy with family issues that I will not get into.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina