Snowball Cookies (pecan/almond shortbread)

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I have a funny story. My mom told me today that one of my dad’s patients once brought him these delicious cookies as a gift. My dad, who can rarely consume sweets due to a history of stomach cancer, LOVED them. After devouring all of these “nutty ball-shaped cookies”, my mom and dad asked the patient for the recipe. She refused. Either a family secret, a secret recipe, or maybe there were drugs inside of the cookies. That would be one way to describe how good they tasted. So, when I came home from school and an undeniable urge to bake struck me, I committed myself to finding and making these cookies. Once I discovered these “snowball” cookies, and found it matched the description of Ms. Secretive Patient’s, I got to work. The results were scrumptious. Currently, my mom and dad are finishing the last of the cookies I made about 30 minutes ago… And that’s proof enough to me! So enjoy this recipe, because sharing is caring! :)

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup almond meal
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar for rolling cookies (I omitted and it tasted great)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. Mix the flour, 1 cup of the chopped pecans, and the salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Stir 1 cup almond meal into the flour mixture and set aside.

4. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy, about 15 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and continue beating at low speed until the dough is cohesive, about 10 more seconds.

5. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands and place on the prepared baking sheets. The cookies will only spread a little bit, so you can place them fairly close together. Bake until the tops are pale golden and the bottoms are just beginning to brown, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.

6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

7.(I omitted this step) Place the powdered sugar in a large zip-top bag. Working with 3 or 4 cookies at a time, place them in the bag of sugar and gently toss to coat them thoroughly. Gently shake off any excess. Allow the cookies to sit for at least an hour, or up to overnight, and then repeat the process. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
(Recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

Brown Eyed Baker: (Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)

Mini French Toast with Grilled Peaches

I enjoy the weirdest things in life. The smell of black coffee, corgi puppies, and the way a Junior Mint sounds when you break it in half, just to name a few. (p.s if you’ve never broken a York Mint patty and don’t know what I’m talking about, go do it. Now. It’s a game-changer.)

I find that if you take pleasure in the little things, it gives you a much more positive outlook of life because there’s just so much more to look forward to! People might not always understand why you get so excited when you see Justin’s peanut butter, but hey, as long you’re happy right? And I think this french toast could easily be added to your list of little reasons to be happy! While physically tiny, it’s anything but small flavor-wise. Soaked in traditional cinnamony egg wash, fried to perfection, and topped with warm grilled peaches, it’ll turn your breakfast world upside down. Plus, it’s mini, and mini servings means you can eat more without feeling bad. Which is always, always a plus.IMG_4229IMG_4237IMG_4231 MINI FRENCH TOAST WITH GRILLED PEACHES

1 13 oz French baguette (or around that size)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup of half-and-half

1/2 milk (I used 2%)

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons of butter for greasing the pan

2 yellow nectarines

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar

FRENCH TOAST:

1. Let bread stale for two days before cooking, this will ensure a non-soggy French toast. Slice into 1-1.5 inch slices

2. Mix eggs, half-and-half, milk, and cinnamon together a bowl until well combined.

3. Soak the bread slices in the mixture for about 2 minutes each. Meanwhile, heat up the frying pan at medium heat and melt butter.

4. Cook bread on frying pan until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

GRILLED PEACHES

1. Dice nectarines into small pieces. Heat the grill pan at medium heat and melt butter.

2. Add peaches and allow to cook until golden brown and cooked through. You want to be able to see a bit of the grill marks on the peaches.

3. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon sugar. Sautee until the sugars are well incorporated.

4. Top the French toast slices while still warm. Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!

XXL Cowboy Compost Cookie

To share or not to share, that is the question.

And with this huge cookie, its one of much importance. They can be whipped up in less than 25 minutes, making them the perfect cookie to give away as a birthday gift to a friend at school, to satisfy a sugar craving, or if you’re like me, to eat away your feelings while studying biology.IMG_3950

Personally, I feel like cookies the size of your face are always a plus, and so I’ve decided to share this recipe with you guys with the hope that you will partake in my joy as well. I’ve been poking around for a solid single-serving dessert for quite some time now, and I think this cookie takes the cake. Filled with all the good fillings of a classic cowboy cookie along with the odds and ends of whatever was left in my pantry, this cookie is step above the dry, tasteless microwave mug cakes that had previously been my go-to.

IMG_3948The cookie is one part ‘cowboy’ because of its traditional ingredients of chocolate chips and coconut flake, as well as one part ‘compost’ because of the addition of graham crackers, peanut butter, and rolled oats by yours truly. It’s such a fun cookie with its contrasting textures and complementing flavors, and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it as much as I did. (P.S the recipes for the other two cookies in the picture above are coming your way soon!)IMG_3923

XXL COWBOY COMPOST COOKIE

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons beaten egg

2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1 sheet of graham cracker, broken into small pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and put to the side.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk butter and sugar until creamed. Since its only a little bit, you should be able to do this all by hand. Stir in peanut butter, then add the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda. Fold in coconut, graham crackers, and most of the chocolate chips (leave about 2 tablespoons worth on the side).

3. Scoop dough out with a spoon and place onto baking sheet. Use a spoon and shape dough into one large dome. Make sure the dome is tall and round, and then press the remaining chocolate chips into the top of the dough.

4. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and crisp. Take out of oven and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

 

 

Nut Butter Trifecta Wrap

Survive the first week of junior year? Check.

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I am honestly speechless. This past first week of school has flown past like whirlwind, leaving me completely frazzled but still in one piece. As glad as I am to still be living and breathing, I’m going to be completely honest and say that this has been one rough week.

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The week started off with me learning that due to the master schedule of the school, I wouldn’t be able to run cross country during sports period anymore. I was(and still kind of am) crushed. Cross country has been my best outlet for all my pent up stress throughout the year, and it was really hard to imagine getting through the day without it. I was also really looking forward to mentoring all the newbies and hopefully setting up my spot as captain for my senior year. All my dreams were crushed due to bad planning on administration’s part, and I faced the upcoming school year with a pessimistic attitude. In other words, for three days straight I did nothing but hate on the school system and wish for the schedule making program to short circuit on itself.

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But just as things seemed to be at literal rock-bottom, life, as it always seems to do, began to turn up again. My coach and I set up a alternate work out schedule so I could run afterschool. I realized how great some of the classes I was already enrolled in were, and I got to fill in my free period with IB Flim!

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Through the good days and the bad, there’s one thing that will help you get through it all. And that one thing is the Nut Butter Trifecta Wrap. Filled with peanut, almond, and cookie butter and topped with fresh sliced banana, this protein-packed wrap will help you overcome even the toughest roadblocks. And it tastes good too.

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NUT BUTTER TRIFECTA WRAP

one knifeful of peanut butter (I used Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter)

one knifeful of almond butter (I used Justin’s Maple Almond Butter)

one knifeful of cookie butter (I used Trader Joe’s Speculoos Crunchy Butter)

one banana, sliced

one whole-wheat tortilla

1. Warm up the tortilla on an ungreased pan over medium heat until its soft and flexible. This way it won’t rip when we wrap it all up.

2. Slice the banana and put to the side. Slather on all three butters across the tortilla.

3. Place the slice bananas in the center of the tortilla, and wrap it all up. Enjoy!

Summer Berry and Chicken Salad

Just because the school year is right around the corner, it doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to linger in summer as long as humanely possible right? Sundresses and sandals will still be my uniform until the weather no longer permits, and I’ll still be out lounging at the pool during the weekend. I think I love summer a little too much to let it go so early.IMG_3874If you’re like me and a bit attached to this lovely time of year, you can satisfy you summer (and hunger) cravings with this Summer Berry and Chicken Salad! This salad incorporates all the light, fresh flavors of summertime and is reminiscent of picnic lunches, willowy meadows, and all good things summer. It can be thrown together in minutes, and is made of simple ingredients, making it the perfect to-go lunch salad. You can take it to school and pretend you’re in some rustic countryside lunch party instead of the sad grass patch behind the history building. Sigh.

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SUMMER BERRY AND CHICKEN SALAD

1 cup spring mix

1/2 cup baby spinach

1/4 cup

1/2 medium sized avocado

1 chicken breast

1/3 cup blueberries

6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

poppyseed dressing

1. Cook the chicken breast. I usually cook mine with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

2. Pour the spring mix and spinach into a bowl/container.

3. Top with cranberries, blueberries, tomatoes, and chicken.

4. Add dressing to taste.

So so easy. You can even cook the chicken and slice the tomatoes the night before, eliminating even more work to put it together in the morning.

Portobello Mushroom Veggie Wrap

With the upcoming school year right around the corner, and by right around the corner I mean in one week (for me at least), I’ve decided to do a small series of recipes that will work perfectly for back to school. Sometimes it can be a real hassle making lunch in the mornings when you’re still half-awake, especially if you’re already running late. However, I think that time should never be issue when trying to prepare a nutritious meal for yourself or someone you love, so all of my recipes will be simple, quick, and have steps that can be done ahead of time.

One of my absolute favorite things to take for lunch are sandwich wraps. They’re portable and can be eaten on-the-go and can be filled with savory or sweet fillings, whatever you’re craving for that day!IMG_3895

For the Portobello Mushroom Veggie Wrap, the first thing you’re going to have to do is sauté one sliced mushroom cap and two baby bell peppers with some olive oil and salt.IMG_3898

Then you’re going to need one tortilla to use as the wrapper. I like to use whole grain tortillas, but the options are endless. (i.e spinach, sun-dried tomato)IMG_3901

Then you’re going to take half of a medium-sized avocado, spoon it out onto the tortilla, and mash it all up. After the mashing it complete, sprinkle a bit of lemon pepper to taste.IMG_3903

Place your mushroom slices on.IMG_3904

Then your peppers.IMG_3905

And top the whole thing off with a handful of spinach.IMG_3917

Wrap it all up, and you’re ready to go!

See how easy that was? And don’t be afraid to stray from the recipe. Add things, take things out, make substitutions with whatever you have in your fridge. Make it your own and have fun with it! Happy wrapping!

PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM VEGGIE WRAP

1 portobello mushroom cap

2 baby bell peppers (or 1/3 large)

1/2 medium-sized avocado

1/2 cup raw baby spinach

sea salt, olive oil, and lemon pepper (to taste)

grill pan (but honestly, a plain old frying pan works too)

1. Slice mushroom cap and bell peppers. Saute on medium heat with olive oil and salt until cooked thoroughly and there are a bit of grill marks on the peppers. Take off heat.

2. Warm tortilla on the pan until warm and soft. This way the tortilla won’t rip as easily when wrapping.

3. Spoon out avocado onto the tortilla and mash up. Add lemon pepper to taste.

4. Layer on mushrooms, peppers, and spinach. Wrap it up and enjoy.

Monthly Favorites: July 2014

Wait. What.

It can’t already be August. This is ridiculous.

I start school again in two weeks, which I’m a bit iffy about. Half of me is ready to see my friends again, but the other half still wants to hide in bed and remain there for another couple months. Regardless, here’s my favorites for the month of July!

1. Music Favorites:

Rollercoaster – Bleachers

Good Girl – 5 Seconds of Summer

Sheezus – Lily Allen

Summer music. Teenage girl music. Sarcastic music. I love it all.

2.Cut-out Bootscut out boots

photo via google images

Specifically, black ankle-length cut-out boots. They’re versatile, gorgeous, and make me feel like the bad ass high school rebel I am not. See the ones I’m head over heels for here.

3. The Perfect Chocolate Cake choco cakephoto via pinterest

With a housewarming party and my cousin’s birthday coming up, I’ve been on the search for a chocolate cake that puts all the rest to shame. Unfortunately, I haven’t come upon it just yet.

4. Almonds and Dried Cranberriesalmonds

photo via google images

A match made by the man upstairs himself. Nutty, sweet, and tart all together, it’s been my go-to snack this month. Paired with some other munchies, it makes a killer trail mix.

And that’s what I’ve been loving for the past month! I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and may August bring even greater things in your direction.

 

 

San Francisco: The Ferry Building

After a traffic-filled six hour drive with only cows as scenery, I was more than happy to finally get to the hotel and binge watch Masterchef Juniors until I succumbed to sleep. On a quick tangent, the kids on that show are so freaking talented its ridiculous, I mean really guys, can any eight year olds you know make their own pasta, let alone use the stove without setting something on fire? But that’s besides the point.IMG_3781

The Ferry Building. The Ferry Building. Farmer’s market on the outside, marketplace and artisan shopping on the inside. What more can a food lover ask for? The produce was so fresh, and the stalls were filled with interesting varieties of seasonal fruits and veggies, priced reasonably and available for you to sample before you purchase. There were also nuts, preserves, a small macaron stand, and fresh flowers. The outside market is only open until around two, so if you’re ever nearby I suggest heading over before it closes for the day.

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Inside, there are tons of small artisan shops selling everything ranging from olive oil to pottery to homemade biscuits. We had lunch at Delica, a small Japanese place that has a sort of deli-like vibe to it. They offer bento combos whose offerings are displayed before in cases, as well as rolls and a la carte items. I had the bento with a chicken tofu patty topped with hijiki, green bean salad with sesame dressing, and rice. My brother also had a bento with tonkatsu, green bean salad, and rice. My dad had soba noodle soup (which was hot?!) with kakiage and crab croquette. We all agreed that the food was just satisfactory, decent but not good enough for a second visit.

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After lunch, we walked around a bit more when I spotted the main reasons why I dragged my family there in the first place: Humphry Slocombe and Miette Patisserie. While my brother and parents stood in line at Humphry’s, which was probably the busiest store in the hall, I grabbed some goodies from Miette. The cupcake, sadly, was devoured before photographed (grrr.), but I did grab some shots of the macarons before they disappeared as well. I got pistachio, raspberry, and rose geranium, raspberry being my favorite of the trio. I got the rose to be adventurous, thinking that maybe I’d finally become sophisticated enough for floral flavors, but I was mistaken. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed everything I got. As for Humphry Slocombe, it was all eaten before photographed as well, nevertheless I still recommend their Tahitian vanilla. Classic flavors are timeless.  IMG_3795IMG_3799IMG_3850

After some more strolling, we realized just how hot and stuffy it was getting in the building, so we stopped for another round of frozen goodness, this time Straus Creamery frozen yogurt from Gott’s Roadside. Nothing extraordinary, but solid enough to battle the heat.

IMG_3808 IMG_3816 And that concludes my food trip at the Ferry Building! I loved every part of San Francisco to bits, and I honestly can’t wait to go back. Also, with the school year coming right around the corner (yikes.), I’ve decided to do a little back-to-school series, so keep your eyes out for that as well!

Cranberry Orange Zest Scones

Okay, I have a confession to make.

As sad as this is to say, it has been 2 1/2 months of summer, and I have not baked a single dessert.

Not even one.

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It’s not that I haven’t thought about it, or don’t want to. I actually really really do. I just haven’t had time.

“But Christine, you’re on summer break, shouldn’t you have more time?”

Logically, yes. Realistically, no

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Truth be told, this summer has basically been the busiest I’ve ever been. I visited the East Coast, spent three weeks at Stanford, and I’m going back to the bay area this weekend. Atop of all that, I have SAT prep (yay!), volunteer, and summer assignments for yearbook that are still going on as we speak. My to-do list is literally never ending, and with everything that’s been going on, I just haven’t had time to spend in the kitchen. If you really want to know how packed my summer has been, I’m sad to say that I purchased a Disneyland annual pass in June thinking I’d go at least once a week and I haven’t gone since I bought it… I know, right? It’s bad.

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Fortunately, with my cousin’s birthday coming up as well as a possible housewarming party, there may be a couple chances for baking in the near future! Until then, I’ve pulled out a recipe from the queue to put up, so I hope you enjoy! These scones are a perfect pairing with tea, and make for a slightly sweet morning treat or afternoon snack.

CRANBERRY ORANGE ZEST SCONES

2 cups all-purpose flour

10 teaspoons sugar (divided)

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup cold butter

1 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup half and half cream

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 7 teaspoons of sugar, orange peel, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Incorporate butter into the mixture until the it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine cranberries, orange juice, cream and egg. Pour into the bowl with the flour mixture and combine until a soft dough forms.

3. On a well-floured surface, gently knead the dough 6-8 times, and then pat the dough into a eight inch circle. Cut the circle into wedges and place onto a greased baking sheet. Brush the wedges with milk and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

4. Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

5. Serve warm with butter or jam of your choice!

NOTES:

- The original recipe also includes an orange glaze and orange butter, click the link below to check it out!

- I paired the scones with orange marmalade and apricot preserves. Both were really good!

Click here for Original Recipe