Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day 2010!

14 years ago, it was Earth Day on April 21, 1996. I was in sixth grade and that day my story was published in the front page of the The South China Morning Youth Post in Hong Kong. I searched hard in the archives to share with you the story but unfortunately couldn't find it. The story was set in the not so near future, where humans lived in a concrete jungle, where trees were a rarity and fresh produce was a thing of the past. With a touch of a button at home in front of the television, there was nothing humans could do without leaving the house. 

 beautiful scenery in Williamsburg, VA

The story might seem somewhat cheesy now but I realized I have lost some of that optimism I had as a child. What I have achieved in the last fourteen years in my vow to protect what Mother Nature has given us? Besides the occasional use of environmentally friendly light bulbs and remembering to turn off the lights when I go out, I still run the dishwasher far too many times and go through enough plastic bags to fill a landfill. I am ashamed but  this post has inspired me and given me a chance to redeem myself.

On a positive note, I recently planted some seedlings at home: sweet basil, dill, and yellow pepper. I am hoping the greenery will be a constant reminder to me how much work and time it takes for a plant to blossom. Oh, and I am definitely bringing that recyclable shopping bag with me tomorrow to the supermarket. 

Do you have any goals on Earth Day?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Pork Loin Roast worth "Glee"ing for

I've always had a soft spot for musicals and Broadway and if I were living in New York City, I would be lining up to see a new musical every night. Sadly, I do not live in the Big Apple or anywhere near. Luckily, the latest TV show Glee has brought the broadway back to me in the comfort of my own home, on my 24 inch plasma screen. What can be more entertaining than a TV show that combines music, dance and high school drama all together? (maybe except the High School Musical). The second new season of Glee proves even better than the first, with more sex appeal, drama, glam and music. They even showcased Madonna's classics in the latest episode.

Glee airs on Fox every Tuesday

 How better to complement this awesome entertainment during dinner than making one of the best pork roast recipes ever introduced by Ina Garten from Food Network Barefoot Contessa. This recipes practically screams GLEE--- it makes me want to start twirling and start belching out tunes on my dinner table. 

Yes, it's that good. The pork is moist and when it melts in my mouth, I can taste the blend of fresh rosemary and thyme with the tanginess of lemon and touch of garlic.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Swirly Cheesecakes

The first food blog I ever visited was Mandy's Fresh from the Oven, a home chef from Singapore who made the most delicious cakes but was still able to maintain a down-to-earthness to her blog. Her entries inspired me to start baking and one of the first recipes I ever tried from her blog were these delicious "Lil Cheesecake Fellas". Don't underestimate these teeny weeny cheesecakes. They might be lower in calories but definitely not any less in flavor. This is definitely one recipe that has never yet failed for me. 

I mean, who can say no to such innocent looking cheesecakes? :)

        Fresh out of the Oven

 Proud and Puffy

Recipe for cheesecake filling with Oreo base(adapted from Fresh From the Oven)
two 8-ounce packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese (use either full fat or 1/3 less fat Neufchtel), at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs (I used large eggs)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1.5 tablespoons unsweetend cocoa powder
25 oreo cookies, mashed to fine crumbs
1 tbsp of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with silicone, foil, parchment, or paper liners.
To assemble the oreo/cookie base, mash 20-25 oreo cookies with any equipment that can do the job until fine crumbs. Mix a tbsp of butter with the crumbed oreos. Lay a thin layer of base in each of the muffin tins and bake for 10 min. Meanwhile, continue with filling.

Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until it's completely blended. Be careful not to be overmix. Remove 3/4 cup of the batter and stir in the cocoa.

Divide the white batter among the 12 muffin cups. Drop a heaping teaspoon of the chocolate batter in the center of each, pushing each down slightly. Using a small knife or skewer, cut through the batter until dark swirls appear.

Place the muffin tin in a large shallow pan and add hot water until it comes about 1 inch up the sides of the tin. Bake the cakes until set and slightly puffy, about 30-45 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. Remove the cakes from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours.*Transfer the cake to a container and chill for at least 4 hours.
*note: instruction from the book: After 2 hours of cooling, cover cake with plastic wrap (do not remove from the tin) and put in the freezer until cold, at least one day.

To remove the cakes, lift them out with your hands and peel off the liner. Although I find it more convenient to hold and eat it with the liner on. For a dressier version, place the cakes, top side up, on a serving platter or individual dessert plates, Top with the chocolate curls if you wish and refrigerate. Serve drizzled with the hot fudge sauce, if you wish. If there are any cakes left, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shake Your Bon-Bon Cinnamon Rolls!

In light of Ricky Martin's coming out announcement this week, I have decided to entitled these my "Shake Your Bon-Bon Cinnamon Rolls"! The bread machine is one of the best inventions ever and made this Cinnabon journey so easy and convenient. I found this recipe online and it promised Cinnabon like rolls and I cannot agree more!

Who can say no to this swirly bun of goodness and cinnamon?!?!?!?! The frosting was absolutely spot-on and my only improvement for next time is add an extra tsp of cinnamon!