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26 November 2012

Easy Sesame Noodles



I am happy to say that we are back in College Station after a 14 hour trip from Kansas City. You are probably thinking- what? The drive is only about 12 hours. There is a story behind this. The hubby and I- usually switch half way through the trip because I get tired and my back/body gets super stiff. Sadly, when we began driving the hubby started feeling really sick. The poor thing had a combination food poisoning and the onset of the flu. To top it off, Ninja was hating the long drive- spending the entire time panting and pacing to indicate how uncomfortable he was. It absolutely broke my heart to see my two men in pain. So I ended up driving 14 hours and my body revolted against me :(


How did I reward myself? Well- when we drove through Dallas- I stopped at the three highest rated cupcakeries!!! Score for me- I went to Sugar Queen, Dimples, and Sprinkles. To read about them you can visit my Cupcakeries Review Page. And I have to say that I have the sweetest husband- who while very sick- mustered up the strength to take a picture of me at each cupcakery.


Now that we are back- the hubby is really struggling with the flu and Ninja is dealing with left over car sickness. Well- after giving Ninja some prescription tummy food (that is what I call it anyway) and the hubby getting some rest- they are both feeling better (not good- but better). It is really quite sad- because I am leaving tomorrow to go to Columbus, Ohio. Our lab is training physicians to assess for smoking in adolescents. I am very excited. But I'm worried about my guys. Who will take care of them? The hubby insists he will be fine but I am sill concerned. The hubby might take the day off work (which is very, very rare for him- as he is hardly ever sick).

Well, to prepare for my departure- I cooked the hubby some meals to eat while I was gone so he would not have to live off take out and frozen foods. One of the meals was Sesame noodles- a quick and easy throw together meal.


EASY SESAME NOODLES 
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

INGREDIENTS

8oz of Fettuccine Noodles
1 tbsp. olive oil (+ 1 tsp. for eggs)
2 chicken breasts, chopped and cooked
8 eggs
1 tbsp. sesame oil (+1 tsp. for tossing noodles with)
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. garlic
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/8 c. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. Worcester sauce (optional)
1/2 c. diced green onions

DIRECTIONS

There are a few things that need to be set up: (1) in a large pot, filled with boiling water- cook noodles (do not over-cook as they will become mushy), (2) in a sauce pan, set at medium heat with olive oil, cook chicken breasts, (3) whisk together eggs- then in another saucepan set to medium heat with a bit of olive oil in pan- cook eggs and scramble, and (4) in a small bowl- mix together soy sauce, vinegar, worcester sauce and 1 tsp. of sesame oil. That is a lot of setting up! But your now done :)

In a large wok- place sesame oil, garlic and crushed red pepper- satuee until garlic is golden brown. Then add noodles and green onions- toss well. Once noodles are a bit crisp (just a minute or two)- add in sauce mixture. The wok will look like it is soup- do not worry- move the heat to high while tossing the noodles in the sauce- all the while, the liquid will also evaporate. When the noodles are coated well in sauce and the liquid has evaporated, add in chicken and eggs- again toss noddles with meat and eggs so they are evenly distributed.

This sounds complicated but it took only about 20-30 minutes to make :) Definitely an after-work throw together meal.

Enjoy,
Chika

24 November 2012

Heath Bar Blondies



I decided I would do two posts today because tomorrow the hubby and I must hit the road quite early to make it back to College Station at a decent hour. But before I go onto recipes- I must share with you my Thanksgiving Holiday Saturday. Well- after posting this morning- my sister and I went shopping. We were a bit delayed in getting to the Black Friday deals and in fact we missed some deals. There was this very nice yellow sweater and shoes at New York & Company- but they ran out of my size :( So tragic.

That did not stop my sister and I- and so I walked away with some wonderful new, cute clothes for work. I tried to stock up on more professional clothes and I am moving along on my career path- and I feel, one of the necessities are business attire. Well- I tried to get clothes that fulfilled two requirements, (1) they could be used in winter and summer and (2) they could be used professionally and casually once I left work (ie. shirts that looked dressed up with a blazer and are casual, cute with jeans. I think I accomplished these goals. But, sadly, another goal of mine was to get cute flats, remember? Sadly, I could not find cute flats! One most stores were, again cleaned out in my size and when they were not- I was just not willing to pay the price that they were being sold at. So I guess I will hold off until I can find shoes that please me and my wallet ;)

After shopping- my sister and I went to a Chocolate Shop called Laura Littles- I believe they have other locations across the U.S. but I have not heard of them. It is a cute little Chocolate Shop that sells an abundance of sweets. My sister and I filled up on chocolate, chocolate covered oreos, and fudge. It was pretty darn yummy. It was no Truman Chocolates of College Station- but it was good. I got the hubby Lemon Sandwiches, which he quite enjoyed. We did not eat all day- because we were busy shopping and so I believe I stuffed my face with some wonderfully tasting chocolate. I still have some left for our trip back home tomorrow ;)

After Laura Littles- my sister and I went to Union Station. I noticed that most major cities have Train Stations yet, Los Angeles and Houston- two major cities- do not have train stations!?! Like what is the deal!? The train station was absolutely beautiful- a wonderful place to take engagement pictures (which, I did see a couple having an engagement photoshoot). We went to Union Station because my cousin, her husband and her son were visiting from Wichita and we wanted to see them before they headed back. I haven't see her for years and have not met her son- so it was nice.


We finished the night by picking up the boys (ie. my brother-in-law and husband) and headed to Gates Bar-B-Q. The thing to remember is that Kansas City and Texas I think compete for their title in BBQ. Texas is known for how they BBQ and prepare the meat, whereas Kansas City is all about the sauce. So I wanted to try a known, must have Kansas City BBQ eat. And so Gates we went. I had high hopes, because I was hungry and it smelled good when you enter. But sadly, the location we went to did not serve Lamb (like their other locations- or so their signs stated) and they had very limited side options. I got the short side (pork), onion rings, pasta salad, beans and potato salads. I am just not a fan of BBQ sauce, especially sweet-tangy sauce. The pasta salad, potato salad, beans and sauce on the meat were all sweet, which basically equaled a major fail. What did I have? Onion rings- that was the only thing I enjoyed. Kansas City BBQ- you are just not as good as Texas, sorry.


Now that I am done sharing cookies- I decided to share some Heath Bar Blondies. This was one of the candies that I stocked up on after Halloween and although the recipe called for just 1 cup of crushed Heath Bars- I love toffee and I love ooey-gooey bars that just melt in your mouth- so I increased the recipe. So if you are looking at the pictures and think they look super gooey- that is because they were meant to be BUT you can always decrease the amount of Heath Bars if that is not your thing.


HEATH BAR BLONDIES
Adapted from The Delicious Life

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F degrees

1 stick of butter, softened
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2- 2 c. Heath Bars, chopped/crushed

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment- cream together butter and sugar for 6-8 minutes. Then add egg and vanilla- combine well. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients- flour and baking soda. Slowly add in dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Finally add in chopped up Heath Bars.

Grease a 9x9 (I did a 8x8) baking pan. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes. Let completely cool (I actually let it cool and then placed it in the freezer for 1 hour) - so that it would be easier to cut into bars.

Enjoy,
Chika

Cupcakes A La Mode Review

Location: Kansas City
Price: $3.25/cupcake
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This past Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving 2012)-- I went to visit my sister again in Kansas City, Missouri. Do not fret- next year-- I have asked her and the brother-in-law to come to College Station. Then I could work in my kitchen :) Isn't it odd that once you are out of your kitchen- it likes you are working in a whole other world? And you suddenly lose all your culinary skills? Anywhoo-- while there-- I of course asked her to take me to all the cupcakeries in town so could review them. I was horrified to find out that she only knew of ONE in the area! ONE?! How can there only be one? I mean, I live in College Station, Texas-- and there are at least 4 cupcakeries. I asked her how she did it--and of course, because she is my sister-- she said it was difficult ;) Yes, we are that addicted to cupcakes-- and all chocolatey sweets.


Cupcake A La Mode is located in an upscale shopping center known as the "Plaza." It is a cute area- with shopping, restaurants and bars. It's a small boutique with a pink, black and white theme. Extremely girly. I cannot imagine a male eating there, without out feeling the teeniest bit embarrassed. Do not get me wrong- I love all things girly but I think if I opened up a cupcakery ::crossing my fingers:: I would try not to make it so girly- so that my foodie audience would not just be limited to girls or guys that were forced to enter into a "pink place" with their girlfriends ;) I giggled a bit picturing the hubby and brother-in-law going in there without their wives, just to sit down and have a cupcake. They do have cute decorated bar chairs and a bar counter to eat on. I give points to cupcakeries with eating areas.




But the important question is how were the cupcakes? I got two cupcakes to share with my sister: Marshmallow Fondue (or S'More Cupcake as I call it) and Chocolate Obsession (the simple chocolate cupcake) and the hubby got Raspberry Lemonade. My cupcakes were good but nothing special. They were moist and the frosting ratio was good. But let's just say that I split the cupcake with my sister- only eating half- and that was enough for me. Which is sad to say for a cupcake- because a really good cupcake is worth eating- the type that you want to devour in a second and ALL of it. Both cupcakes--tasted like cupcakes anyone could make in their home.



The hubby really enjoyed his cupcake. He said it tasted really good. So maybe their chocolate cupcakes are just not as good as their vanilla ones? But on the plus side- their cupcakes are beautifully decorated, creatively named and filled :) Kudos for that. The cupcakes come in simple boxes with a Cupcake A La Mode Logo sticker on top.


Though I have to say briefly: the staff that was there that morning was a bit rude-- shoving my two cupcakes in a small box, ruining their pretty photogenic-ness...I was pretty annoyed.


Overall- it is your average cupcakery. If you need a cupcake fix-- you can go to Cupcake A La Mode-- you may or may not get blown away but at least its an average cupcake. And you might have better luck trying their vanilla cupcakes. Hence the 3.5 (I gave them half a point more than average since the hubby liked his cupcake).

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies



What did Black Friday bring for the Hubby and I in Kansas City? Well it was a pretty fun day. We started off with Brunch at a place called Eggtc (get it...etc...cute). My sister and I split a salmon eggs benedict (our favorite), with biscuits covered in Chorizo gravy and then we all shared a Banatella It is a French toast filled with Nutella and Bananas. It was some major yumminess. Omg!


After Brunch, we visited a cupcakery: Cupcake A La Mode so that I may have cupcakery reviews from Kansas City. But to read about Cupcake A La Mode- you will have to go to Cupcakery Reviews. 

Then we went to Three Dogs Bakery. Too Freakin Cute! It was a fancy bakery but makes exclusively dog treats but I promise- if you did not know where I got them from- you would eat them, they look so good. They have locations in Texas but they were too far from me :( We came home and I attempted to take pictures with Ninja but man-that was a fail. BUT I did get this adorable picture of Ninja, which though blurry I think captured his excitement quite well. 



In the evening we went to Batman Live in the Power and Light District (a really pretty area). The show was really cute. It was like a child's version of Cirque du Soleil but Batman style. It was really nice seeing all the kids dressed up in Batman gear and getting so excited! 


We finished the night off at a sushi place called the Drunken Fish. Now, something that I have learned that is pretty cool- that we do not have in Houston/College Station or in Los Angeles- is this idea of reverse Happy Hour. They have a happy hour menu from 10 pm- closing. So, that is when we went to Drunken Fish. It was good- I got to try two new rolls  (Big Easy and Butterfly) and one old roll with a twist (they do Shrimp Tempura roll with Asparagus) along with a spicy salmon roll. Now what was amazing was the dessert we chose. We got a Tempura Fried Cheesecake topped with whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce (and it came looking like sushi roll)- it not only looked neat but was delicious!


I did not get to go shopping yesterday because my sister and I just did not have any time. But we are planning to head out right after this post. Anywhoo- on to food. Well, I think I have said this before but my favorite recipe I have made thus far is Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie. I ate the whole batch by myself and then the minute I finished, I was instantly craving some more and needed to use some serious will power to refrain myself. Well- and I was attempting to have will power I though- hmmm... I wonder if this cookie would taste even better if it was double chocolate?! Since I was getting ready to see my sister- I thought why not try the idea. So I did- and it was just as good. I think neither are better than the other- and both make me drool and top my favorite dessert list :) So let the cookie sharing begin (this is the last cookie recipe for now...)


DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PUDDING COOKIES
Adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees 

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 box (3.4 oz) chocolate pudding
1 1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. honey
1 c. milk chocolate chips
1 c. peanut butter chips
1 c. Reeses Pieces

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate pudding- set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter, peanut butter, and both sugars until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add eggs-- one at a time--, vanilla and honey. Scrape down sides. Reduce to low speed and add flour mixtures. Combine until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and Reeses Pieces.

Line two cookie sheets with either aluminum foil, parchment, or wax paper- and scoop 1 1/2 inch cookie dough balls onto sheet (I used a cookie dough scoop and then rolled between my palms for a nice round shape). Space cookies 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes . Let cook for about 5-10 minutes.

Enjoy,
Chika



23 November 2012

Turtle Cheesecake Pudding Cookies



Happy Black Friday! Did anyone hit the stores at midnight (or even earlier for some stores, like around 8pm)? I have to say that I have tried the Black Friday thing in the past, I think a total of two times- though neither of those times have I waited in the cold in long lines. I just went at midnight to go shopping. I have to say that I am not a fan, at all. It is a bit too intense for me. I am not for fighting, pushing and shoving for saving a few dollars. Do not get me wrong- I understand that sometimes, a few stores give certain, amazing deals- but the intensity of the experience is just not worth if for me...but I can see how some people get very into it. So for those individuals- I hope you got everything you wanted.

We did go shopping yesterday- but only to pick up the game Taboo, because my sister and I decided that we need to play it! But while there, the hubby and I got an adorable cupcake ornament and peacock ornament (since it reminded us of our wedding). I am looking forward to hanging it on our first Christmas tree :) But I do want to continue shopping, later today. I am sure there will be crowds- but I think the intense ones, hopefully have gotten their deals and left. I asked my sister if we could go because I could use some new clothes and some new shoes, specifically flats. I love heels but they kill my back (and I have a very sensitive back)! I also would like to go to this Doggie Bowtique (cute name) that is in Kansas City- to get my Ninja face a special Thanksgiving Holiday present.

What did we do yesterday? We went to Buca Di Beppo for their Thanksgiving Dinner and although our expectations were low- we were happily surprised. They had Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, Italian sausage stuffing, bread and green beans. It was the perfect amount of food for the four of us.


The dinner was timed perfectly so that we could begin waiting for the turning on of the Plaza Lights- a tradition for some Kansas City residents. I expected the stores to be open, even though it was Thanksgiving because a ton of people come out for this event, but sadly no stores were open- including cupcakeries. What a poor business decision. If I were a cupcakery owner in Kansas City and had a store within the Plaza- you will be sure that my cupcakery would be open. After the lighting- is when we headed to the stores to purchase Taboo :) And a fun game night was had...

So what to share for Black Friday! I am happy to say that I can stick with the dessert theme (because I would like to share more Desserts than Non-Desserts, since this is a dessert blog) and I presented it more in a "lets get ready for Christmas" way! I am going to share Turtle Cheesecake Pudding Cookies. The hubby and sister enjoyed these. Though I think both had the same comment- that each bite is different. Overall the cookie is good but its those wonderfully delicious bites when you get caramel and chocolate within the cheesecake pudding cookie that are the best. So I guess you can say each bite is a different experience :)

TURTLE CHEESECAKE PUDDING COOKIES
Adapted from Sugar Bee Crafts

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F degrees 

2 sticks of butter, softened
1/4 c. of sugar
1 c. of brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. of flour
1 (3.4oz) box of Jello cheesecake pudding mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1 (8oz) package of mini-Rolos, chopped in half 
1/2  c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment- cream together butter and sugars- for approximately 6-8 minutes. Then add eggs, one at a time until mixed well, followed by vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients- flour, pudding mix, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to to wet ingredients, on low speed until just well incorporated. Lastly, add Rolos, pecans and chocolate chips and mix briefly- just enough to thoroughly incorporate.

Scoop 1 inch cookie dough balls (I use a cookie scoop) on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil- about 1.5 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. [If you like larger cookies- just make larger cookie rounds, about 2 inch sizes]

Enjoy,
Chika

22 November 2012

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins



Happy Turkey Day! or Shall I say Gobble Gobble Day? :) After 12 hours of driving and some pit stops for Ninja and my tummy ;) we have arrived in Kansas City. First, I would like to stay that I am the worst food blogger ever- I forgot my camera :( How to capture the foodie adventure?! I have already told my sister that I NEED to use her camera. I am also just an absent minded person, as I forgot shoes (ie. other than my travel loafers). Luckily, my sister and I wear the same size shoe. I am however a good wife ;) as I packed everything that the hubby needed, so he could sleep in before we hit the road.

But one food adventure was already lost- we went to Thai Place-- to eat dinner yesterday. It was a cute restaurant and nice romantic vibe but the food was over-priced for quality that was decent. But I do love Thai food- I had some Crab Rangoons  Pad-See-Ew, and some chocolate, cream cheese, coconut wantons (now do not get too excited and you are probably thinking- WHAT? but sadly they were "eh" at best). Do not worry- I would never forget to capture a cupcakery adventure- though I am not sure if I should start just sharing my foodie trips, especially since I have Columbus, Ohio next week.

So- I am assuming that most food bloggers have been preparing for this main event for a while- getting their kitchen ready and their best, new creative recipes to post. I, must be honest- I would love to cook a big, fancy Thanksgiving meal and share my menu (and I plan to...when I host Thanksgiving at my place), but after driving for 12 hours...I just did not want to cook. So we will be doing the forbidden- going out for Thanksgiving Dinner. But, I promise- one day, maybe next year? I will bring out the big guns, hours upon hours of cooking with fancy and creative recipes to share a For the Love of Dessert Thanksgiving.

What will I share in the spirit of Thanksgiving- the hubby's breakfast for this week- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins :)


CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN MUFFINS
Adapted from Inhabitots

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F degrees

2 c. of canned pumpkin
2 c. sugar
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. buttermilk or regular milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2.5 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl on a stand-mixer, fitted with paddle attachment- cream together pumpkin, sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl- whisk together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add wet ingredients and combine on low speed until just well incorporated. Finally, mix in chocolate chips.

Place cupcake liners in cupcake tray and using an ice cream scoop- fill each cup 3/4 full. The original recipe stated that the muffin rise a lot but mine did not. So I would do at least 3/4 of the way full if not completely. Bake 20-22 minutes.

Enjoy,
Chika