Archives for category: dessert

To know me is to know that I have many random questions in my brain. Some of those questions I research, some I leave as questions in my brain because I don’t feel like doing the research. Well, one day I had the question: Is there a difference between a pancake and a flapjack? After doing some Internet research, I discovered that in the US, the words are synonymous with only a bit of argument here and there about how thick one is supposed to be compared the other. But that makes no difference to me. More than likely it’s regional.

However, according to the Internet, a flapjack in Britain is a lot different than a flapjack in the US. Apparently a flapjack to the British is like a granola bar in the US. I’m not usually a granola bar person, but the recipes looked so easy and so appealing that I decided to give it a try. And my first and only attempt at making a British-style flapjack was a hit! I have no idea how authentic my flapjacks are, but I don’t care because my family and I loved them. Authenticity can fly out the window.

Then, of course, my little brain started to think. What other British foods are there that didn’t quite come over to the US in the same form or even at all? Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t decided on a theme for this month’s Themed Thursday. Now I had one – British food! So I found a book at a local library called Cooking the English Way by Barbara W. Hill.

Believe it or not, the recipes seemed pretty normal to a person from the US – roast beef, roasted potatoes, shepherd’s pie, scones, gingerbread, etc. The only recipes in the book that the US didn’t adopt for the most part were “mushrooms on toast” for breakfast and Yorkshire pudding. But I hate mushrooms and the Yorkshire pudding seemed like too much work and I was feeling lazy. So I gave up for the day.

I hadn’t given up completely on my British food idea, but I was no longer sure what to do. Then I watched A Grammy Salute – The Beatles 50th Anniversary: The Night That Changed America.

Man, I have to stop here to say how much I love The Beatles. Yes, I’m technically too young for them, but that’s the beauty of the Fab Four – they’re timeless. After watching the tribute, my little heart swelled in adoration, and I had a new plan. I would honor The Beatles in my own way by creating recipes based on foods mentioned in their songs. Of course, the first song I thought of suited my purposes the best – George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle.” What better song for a person with a sweet tooth? Mmmmm! (I choose to ignore its warnings and focus on the deliciousness.) And it just so happens that February is George’s birthday month. Perfect!

Taken from the song, I chose to create a coffee dessert (this one has endless possibilities!) and a nice apple tart to accompany the British flapjacks. Let me tell you, this month’s theme was so tasty and so much fun, that I might have to honor The Beatles (and George Harrison) another time!

Beatles theme

British-Style Flapjacks

  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ cup quick-cooking oats
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries (or use your favorite berry or raisins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and honey. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter and sugar have melted. Stir in oats and berries until coated. Pour into bread pan or small square baking pan. Mixture should be about 1-in thick. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden. Cut into squares, then leave to cool completely before removing from the pan.

 Coffee Dessert

(based off recipe “Christmas Morning Coffee” from The Best of Christmas at Home Cookbook)

  • 1 pot (10 cups) brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Milk or whipped cream, optional

Prepare coffee. While coffee is brewing, in a small saucepan, heat water to a low boil over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring back to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Combine coffee with cocoa mixture. Pour into mugs and serve with milk or whipped cream, if desired.

 Easy Apple Tart

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 package refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 can apple pie filling
  • ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray mini pie tins (or tart pans) with cooking spray. Cut and fit crust into each tin. Place tins in oven and bake 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix pie filling, milk, and honey in a bowl. When crusts are golden brown, remove and let cool. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F. Fill each crust with apple pie mix. Cover each pie with foil and poke holes in the foil to let breathe. Bake pies in oven for 20 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

Over the mountains and through the dunes, to grandmother’s house we go… Welcome to Themed Thursday! This post is all about our adventures in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mars and I spent a few days in Phoenix where we visited our Arizona family members. And, of course, we stopped by some wow-worthy places in the area to share on the blog. After six hours or so of travel, Mars and I decided to stop by a restaurant called The White Chocolate Grill. Its interior was so elegant that I was even impressed by the elegance of their bathrooms! To start our lunch, Mars and I split a caprese salad. Then we split the BBQ bacon burger with a side of couscous (topped with golden raisins and roasted pistachios). All of it was very tasty so we weren’t very hungry by the time we finished, but we were at the White Chocolate Grill! How could we pass up dessert? So we ordered the brownie, which was great, but we couldn’t finish. We boxed it up and took it to Grandma (who ended up eating it for lunch the next day declaring it one of the best brownies she’d had from a restaurant). Next time we’re in town and end up here, I want to try their AZ egg rolls and their bread pudding!

WCG 1

WCG 2

One morning, Mars and I decided to do some Christmas shopping and hit up breakfast while we were out. We found a bakery nearby called the Wildflower Bread Company. It has a charming feel and the menu was extensive. Mars tried a sausage egg sandwich and I ordered lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry and maple syrups. For those who are particular about their maple syrup being warmed, let me tell you, they warm theirs at this place! I had to use my napkin as an oven mitt/pot holder to pick it up. That was a pleasant surprise. Their food was very good and fresh. We were tempted to go back the next day, but we decided against that as we’re both the type to be easily embarrassed if we’re recognized. But while there, I bought Wing a present of their own green (iced) tea with guava. He hasn’t brewed any yet, but the leaves smell delicious and refreshing.

Wildflower 2

That same day, Grandpa took us to the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge to see their display of gingerbread houses. They had built a small town where all of the buildings were about four feet high, using gingerbread “bricks” that were a bit larger than a sheet of graham cracker. Their gingerbread houses were impressive, but more impressive than that was the resort itself. If we ever need a place to stay in Phoenix (aside from the grandma & grandpa inn), this will be our spot. They have three or four restaurants inside, a small shopping area, golfing, tennis, fire pits, and a fancy pool with a lazy river. All Mars needed to hear was “lazy river” and he was sold!

Marriott 2

Marriott 1

Wing and I got the idea for these tasty desserts from a Thai restaurant that’s in the college area. We weren’t impressed by the restaurant itself when there are so many great Thai restaurants in San Diego (which is why we decided not to highlight it on the blog), but we did come away with a great idea for cinnamon banana rolls. We ordered a dessert called FBI: Fried Bananas & Ice cream. It was plain and neither of us really liked them.

On the way home from the restaurant, I said to Wing that they would have tasted so much better if they were done bunuelo-style: drenched in cinnamon and sugar. Then Wing took it from there and said we should try them with lumpia wrappers and condensed milk.

We made them the other night at my parents’ house. They were a hit! Next time we make these, I want to try drizzling them with honey or chocolate syrup.

Cinnamon banana rolls

Cinnamon banana rolls

  • 3 lumpia roll sheets
  • 2 large bananas, cut into thirds
  • 1/4 cup condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon & sugar
  • Oil for frying

Halve each lumpia sheet diagonally to form triangles. Dip banana pieces into condensed milk, coating well. Then dip into the cinnamon & sugar, coating well.

Rolling banana visual
Place banana on the base of the triangle. Fold in the two corners towards the banana. Roll the lumpia wrapper and banana towards the peak of the triangle until it’s sealed. Continue until all bananas are folded in the lumpia wraps.

 
Fry the wrapped bananas in oil until browned. (Note: do not place on paper towels or they will stick.)
Sprinkle with more cinnamon & sugar, and drizzle with condensed milk. Serve with ice cream.

 

 

This week’s failure was in the form of Halloween cupcakes. One thing about me is that I’m unable to create cute things when it comes to food, but I will always try, then fail, then I will try again, then fail. Repeat. It’s because part of me wants to be able to create those oh-so-cute foods for the holidays and my brain says, “Yes, you can do it!” But then I try, then fail. This year’s Halloween cupcakes were no exception, however I was only partly to blame for the failure (I love when it’s not completely my fault!). I was shopping at JoAnn’s one day (I can be semi-creative when it comes to other things, but food seems to be my nemesis) and I ran across little sugar roses and black spray icing, like spray paint but edible. My brain said, “Hey! How simple is that! And look there is a can of red icing with different tips. It’s too easy and will look awesome!” I also found Wilton “color burst batter bits.” I bought orange for the occasion. In my mind’s eye, the cupcakes were going to look similar to this but appetizing and wonderfully Halloweenish (use your imagination since my MS Paint skills aren’t terribly refined either):

Cupcake drawing

A drawing of how I had envisioned the cupcakes

But you get the idea. Chocolate cupcakes with little orange sprinkles baked into the batter and blood red icing with a black rose on top.

Well, my cupcakes were a fail visually. They were tasty, thanks to Hershey’s cupcake mix, but they looked like Frankenstein’s monster gone cupcake. Actually, not even that cool. They just looked dumpy and sad. First, the spray paint turned the roses a grayish color, not black. They might have turned black with excessive coats but I ran out of spray pretty quickly. It sprays out at about a tennis ball width, so if you’re spraying a rose that’s only about an inch in diameter, then a lot of spray is wasted on paper towels. But that was the least of the problems. I actually had a blast spraying the roses. Don’t ask me why, but I did. Maybe it’s because I kept saying, “Painting the roses black” – my own hybrid between Alice in Wonderland “Painting the roses red” and Rolling Stones “Paint it black.” (I couldn’t decide which song was more appropriate at the time.)

Anyway, the cupcakes were baking while I was painting the roses black (the Queen of Hearts may want my head for this, but I expect Mick Jagger to come to my defense while on trial). When the cupcakes came out of the oven, they looked awesome. I let them cool, then added the icing. I will admit that I tried to make one of those yogurt swirls on top of the first one, but it turned out to look like a limp piece of red licorice. So on the rest, I just put the frosting on haphazardly, telling Wing that Halloween cupcakes aren’t supposed to be pretty. Halloween isn’t supposed to be pretty so my cupcakes oughtn’t be pretty either. There. Ugly cupcakes were justified. The spirits of long ago eaten cupcakes didn’t come to haunt my cupcakes since they weren’t recognizable (isn’t that the whole reason for Halloween originally?).

When the black spray icing dried on the roses, I put them on the cupcakes. Really not what I had envisioned, but whatever. Then Wing and I split one. We cut it in half, and lo and behold, no orange color bursts. No hint of them whatsoever. Maybe they only work in white or yellow cake mix as shown on the picture of the package (although there was no warning saying so) or maybe we folded them in too harshly and they disintegrated. I don’t know. All I know is that the cupcakes had no pretty orange spots so we were eating extra sugar, calories, and money for no apparent reason. Then I went to eat the rose. It was as hard as rock! I was scared I would chip a tooth if I kept trying to eat it. So I stopped trying and threw it away. Again. Completely pointless. Total waste of money. Call me strange, but if I’m going to decorate my cupcake, the decoration had better be edible. And, technically speaking this was edible in the your-body-won’t-reject-it-and-cause-you-to-die-or-become-ill-since-it’s-only-sugar sense, but in the your-teeth-can-chew-it sense, it wasn’t edible at all.

But, like I said, the taste of the cupcakes were fine, thanks to Hershey’s but no thanks to Wilton. I might someday bake Hershey’s cupcakes again, but I won’t be using Wilton decorations on them since I obviously don’t know how to use them to their proper effect. I will stick to regular (perhaps Hershey’s) icing and glob it on with the old, ever faithful spoon, not canned icing with the tips that create the wilted licorice look.

Cupcakes

A real picture of the cupcakes, not the drawing