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

Monthly Favorites: June 2014

1. The Fault in Our Stars Soundtrack

TFIOS

photo courtesy of Google Images

The book’s pretty good, the movie was alright, but the soundtrack? The soundtrack is pure musical gold. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s honestly such a well made soundtrack, featuring some great voices such as Ed Sheeran, Birdy, and Grouplove. Click the link and take a listen!

2. Lavender Hair

lavendar hair

photo courtesy of Pinterest

One day, when I have the guts(and when I’m out of my parents house) I’m going to dye my hair, and it’s going to be this color. It’s such a whimsical, playful look and I’m absolutely in love with it. Pastel colored hair is only socially acceptable for so long, but until I’m free to do as I please, I’ll just have to live with dreaming about it.

3. Strawberry-Rhubarb

strawberry rubarb

photo courtesy of zoebakes

I know, I know. I’m late on the flavor bandwagon, don’t castrate me. I’ve always been skeptical because I hate rhubarb on its own, but I finally gave in when I had a macaroon at Bouchon and have been converted since. The flavors are lovely complements and I can’t wait to start trying them out in my own baking!

4. Maxi Dresses

vhudgens maxi

photo courtesy of Reveal

The easiest way to get a girly look without the fuss of wearing a skirt (i.e holding your skirt down in the wind to spare yourself from a Marilyn Monroe moment). Maxis are comfy and can just as easily be dressed up as they can be worn casually. A definite staple in anyone’s summer closet.

5. Summer ClichesIMG_2884

photo taken by me

Bonfires, overnight camps, beach days, BBQ, daytrips, the list goes on and on. But I just love all of it. I think they completely capture the essence of summer, and I can shamelessly say I’ve participated in almost all of them.

acai bowl

I just got home from my three week camp at Stanford, and as much as I’ve missed my bed, I’m really really missing camp. I’ve never met a group of people I’ve clicked with so quickly, and I’ve created some great bonds with my housemates over the past 21 days. Everyone was so kind and so genuine, it was amazing to be with a group of people with whom I could have a heated debate over world issues as easily as I could have a gossip session. I learned so much from everyone, in and out of the classroom, and I’m truly going to cherish every moment we spent together. IMG_3200

To the POD 3.0 (of you ever read this), if I could go back and do camp over again, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. You guys are honestly an awesome group of people and I’m so blessed to have gotten the chance to be with your company for the past three weeks. Sam, your wit and general cynicism towards the world is already missed. Zita, you are truly a pacifist hipster (in the best way) and as hard as it is to believe you’re younger than me, I hope you sophomore year treats you well. G-Nat, my personality twin and real-life Bambi, I’m going to miss our morning runs and my partner in being awkwardly not as social. Sashel, my abusive husband/shower stalker, I wish you the best of luck this coming senior year and I know that your intelligence and sincerity will take you great places. Sashay, I’ve never met a more hardworking person than you and I hope you don’t get too stressed out over college and just remind yourself that life has great things in store for great people like you. Watcher, my Texas-grown girl, I hope your passion and energy for life never burns out and that I’ll find an excuse to go to Houston soon so I can see you again.IMG_3213IMG_3214IMG_3215IMG_3216

To my fellow Narnians, sadly, as we all know, nothing gold can stay, but remember by friends, although our time together has ended, our friendships have not. It’s really only the beginning. Distance will only make our love fonder and our interactions more special. I wish you all the best in your endeavors, and know that I would do anything to cross paths with you all again. I love you guys and genuinely thank you for making these past twenty one days the experience of a lifetime.

To get back into the swing of things at home, I made myself the most SoCal food I could think of, acai bowls! Healthy and cold, they keep you going and help you beat the heat at the same time. They work great as breakfast, but can serve as a snack, dessert, or other meal as well. Enjoy!

ACAI BOWLS   

serves 2

1 packet frozen acai

2 bananas

1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 cup frozen strawberries

a splash of cashew milk

granola

fruit to top (strawberries, blueberries, etc.)

shredded coconut

agave nectar

1. Blend acai, one banana, frozen fruit, and cashew milk in blender until a smooth and thick consistency is reached. It should be thicker than a smoothie. I use a VitaMix, which has a tamper to make it easier to get this consistency.

2. Split the base into two bowls and top with granola, sliced banana, fruit, shredded coconut, and agave nectar. Enjoy cold!

NOTE:

– If your blender won’t let you get the right consistency, skip the toppings and add more liquid to make a juice or smoothie instead. Same nutrients, different format.

– I found frozen acai at Sprouts, I do not know of other places that carry it.

Eats on the East(Coast)

I spent the first week of my summer break on the East Coast, sppecifically Rhode Island, Boston, and New York City. Although the “main” purpose of the trip was to see my cousin graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and visit colleges, I knew that the East Coast was not only home to some of the best schools, but tons of good food as well. So I made a huge effort eat as much food as humanely possible while I was there. In other words,  I ended up dragging my mom and brother all over the place to eat food, all the time, everyday. Unfortunately, the idea of posting about this didn’t occur to me until about halfway though my trip, and I wasn’t able to document everything that I ate. However, I was able to take a handful of decent shots, so here’s an very abridged version of all the stuff I ate while I was in the East Coast!

1. Cha20 {Fullerton, CA}IMG_2237
Typical Asian tea house? I suppose… But still nothing beats good boba topped with little chunks of fresh fruit! This is actually in California, but I picked it up on the way to the airport, so I decided it deserved a little shout out. The drinks in the picture above are the Fruity in the Booty smoothie with boba, and the Tango Mango slushie with boba. Their menu also sports snack foods like popcorn chicken, which is one of the most popular menu items, and main dishes such as pineapple fried rice and street noodles.

2.Legal Sea FoodIMG_2446 IMG_2448 IMG_2450

I tried Legal out because of a recommendation by a friend who had previously lived in Boston, and it did not disappoint! They have several locations along the East Coast, and their clam chowder is even served at Red Sox games. We had the fried oysters as an appetizers, and they fried to a perfect crisp and had just enough sauce to complement the oyster without overpowering it. I had the Wood Grilled Assortment, which had the chef’s choice of three different fish, shrimp, and scallops. The portion was generous, and everything was cooked just to the right degree, but it was definitely a bit on the bland side with no seasoning what so ever. My brother had the kid’s menu one pound lobster, which came out steaming hot and really yummy, judging from the fact he refused to share any with me. Legal is definitely not the typical hole-in-the-wall eatery that foodies love, but if you’re looking for some solid seafood in the Boston area, I would definitely recommend it!

3. Bouchon BakeryIMG_2609 IMG_2611 IMG_2612 Face sized cookies and palm sized macarons. Need I say more? I visited the store in Rockefeller Center, and while I was highly disappointed that I couldn’t get a decent spot to see Sara Bareilles sing, these little baked goods made me feel a smidge better. Sort of. But nonetheless, the hype about Bouchon is real! My mom got the snickerdoodle cookie, a well-done classic, and I got the strawberry-rhubarb macaron. It was the first time I tried a strawberry-rhubarb dessert, a combo which I had been hugely afraid of, but I really loved it! Bouchon’s fruit macarons have a cream and jam filling which I really liked because it cut the sweetness of the jam and balanced out the flavor.

4. Momofuku Milk BarIMG_2670IMG_2524 IMG_2526 IMG_2531

I’ve been obsessed with Christina Tosi and her bakery for about a year now, and visiting one of her locations was the one must-do that I forced upon my family. I visited the 56th street location, which is connected to one of the Momofuku restaurants, so it was a bit smaller, but they still had the goods (and that’s all that matters, right?) We got a compost cookie, cornflake marshmallow cookie, confetti cookie, blueberry and cream cookie, cereal milk soft serve, and a slice of crack pie. A bit overboard? Maybe. Worth it? Yes. If you’re in New York, please visit for your own good. You will be enlightened.

5. Angelo’s Oven Baked PizzaIMG_2667 IMG_2668 IMG_2669

A must do in New York is eating New York pizza, which is either super duper thin crust, or deep dish pizza that more accurately represents a bread bowl filled with hot cheese and tomato sauce. Yum. I turned to Yelp to find a decent, not-so-sketchy pizza place, and Angelo’s came up. I’m sure there’s better pizza in other areas of New York, but I ended up choosing Angelo’s because it was literally three seconds away from my hotel, and it was a really long day. Your girl just wanted some hot carbs, okay? We started off with the Insalata di Arugula, which was a light arugula salad with sun-dried tomatoes, then had Linguine Del Pescatore and a thin crust pizza with pepperoni, cheese, sun-dried tomato, peppers, and basil. Nothing super special, and a bit on the pricier side. But hey, the rolls that they give you are really good.

And that’s a wrap!

Monthly Favorites: May 2014

Filled with cram sessions and summer teases, a lot went on in the month of May. Let’s do a quick little recap of all the great stuff that came my way this month! And I know this is late (again), but I was on the East Coast for the past week, so I really didn’t have time to post. On another note, keep your eyes peeled for a East Coast food post because its coming!

 

1. Music Favorites

Partition – Beyonce

Crazy in Love (Kid Koala version) – Emile Sande

A Little Party Never Killed Nobody – Fergie

I Choose You – Sara Bareilles

These songs got me through the long nights before exams, keeping me up and reminding me that once I got finals out of the way, I’d have three months of nothing but fun ahead of me.

 

2. Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbookmilk-bar400x290

Yes. Yes. Yes. Need I say more? My friend gifted me with the book for my birthday, and basically made my day (and possibly my month). I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Momofuku and Christina Tosi for the longest time, and I cannot wait to start cooking through the book. The photos are stunning, and the recipe all sound delectable! I’m going to have a tough time deciding which one to make first.

 

3. Frozen Mangoesfrozzen mango

I love mangoes in general, but with all the hot weather that went on during the month, I found myself digging through the freezer for these more and more often. Blended in smoothies, used in salsa, or just eaten plain, frozen mangoes are such a versatile ingredient and they were one of my favorite things to snack on when I was craving something cold and sweet.

 

4. Humans of New York (HONY)HONY

In attempts to document the personality of New Yorkers, Brandon Stanton went all around the city photographing people and asking them questions about their life and then posted the images alongside snippets of their stories on his blog. His popularity has grown exponentially since he first started, and his blog has now expanded to several other social media outlets as well as two books. I picked his first book to read on my flight to New York, and it was really interesting. I ended up not sleeping at all on the flight, choosing instead to finish the entire book in one sitting.

Blueberry Banana Nut Buttermilk Bread

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What time is it?! SUMMERTIME!
After surviving (barely) sophomore year, my goal is to sleep all day and play all night. Beach days, disney dates, and the baking craze are on the way! Unfortunately, the only dates I had this past week was with my SAT II Chemistry Prep book. But, even with dreaded studying, I can always muster together time for baking!
So, blueberry banana nut buttermilk bread. Isn’t that a mouthful? Well you’ll have your mouths full for sure after a nibble of this delectable bread. This was my first time making banana bread AND using a bread pan, and it was an absolute success! I’ve made it 3 times in the past week. Twice for my family and once for my chemistry tutor! (This lady deserves major kudos for helping my poor soul get an A in Honors Chemistry). She liked it so much, she told me she ate half of it fresh out of the oven with coffee on the way to her next student! As for my parents, my dad loves it with margarine and my mom devours it plain. So whether you sip coffee with it, slather it with margarine, or find your own personal pairing, I hope you enjoy this beautiful loaf!

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar(I actually used 3/4 since my parents don’t like things too sweet)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3(1cup) ripe bananas, mashed(overripe is best)
1 cup blueberries
1 cup(or amount desired of nuts of your choice; I used pecans)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well combined. Beat in bananas until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture to the sugar mixture at low speed, beating just until incorporated.
Add blueberries and gently toss to combine.
Scoop the batter evenly into the loaf pan. Place into oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before inverting the cake onto a wire rack.

Recipe used from http://damndelicious.net/2012/06/23/buttermilk-banana-blueberry-bread/

Bread Quiche

Happy Memorial Day folks! Hope your long weekend is filled with tons of BBQ and the first taste of summer. For those of you who don’t know, I am a most definitely a breakfast person. I love pretty much all breakfast food, from dutch babies to omelets, and I can never relate to people who always skimp out on breakfast, claiming that they refuse to  eat “that early in the morning”. Personally, I can’t think of anything better than rolling out of bed and having a piping hot pile of eggs and carbs waiting for you. But maybe that’s just me. It’s by far my favorite meal of the day, and it gives me that much needed kickstart to get my day going. Bread Quiche

My mom wanted to test out this recipe before she took it to her Bible study luncheon, so I made it over the weekend, and I AM IN LOVE. It strays from the traditional quiche since it lacks a crust, but do not fret my fellow-carb lovers, the bread is IN the quiche itself. It tastes great, and its really easy too! You literally just chop everything up, pour it into a baking pan, and throw it in the oven. It’s a low-maintainence dish, perfect for busier mornings. I highly suggest adding some variety to your morning meals with this quiche, you’ll thank me later.Bread Quiche

 

BREAD QUICHE:

4 cups of whole wheat bread, cubed (please do not use sandwich bread, please. I used a whole grain loaf bread from La Brea Bakery.)

4 eggs, completely whisked together

1/2 of a large tomato, chopped

1/2 of a onion, sauteed

1 1/2 cup of spinach

4 pieces of thickly sliced turkey, chopped

4 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Lightly grease baking pan to prevent sticking. Put bread cubes into the pan

3. Evenly spread tomato, onion, spinach, and turkey on top of the bread. Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly on top.

4. Pour milk into the eggs and mix well.

5. Pour egg mixture into the pan and make sure most of the food in the pan is immersed in the mixture.

6. Place in oven and leave to cook for 45 minutes. Take out to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES:

– Spinach can be replaced with cooked broccoli or asparagus

– Feta can be replaced with blue, cheddar, or mozzerella

– Turkey can be switched out for bacon or ham or omitted

 

 

Monthly Favorites: April 2014

AP TESTING IS FINALLY OVER!  And I’d be lying if I told you it was easy. But on the bright side, I only have two more weeks until school’s out. I CANNOT WAIT. I know this post is a tad bit late, but nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it!

1. Music is such a big part of my daily routine, and my music choices usually reflect my mood. Whether I want to get pumped up before a track meet or need something to complement my angst, music has always got my back. So here are my most listened to songs of the month!

Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl No More – Wet (oops typical teenage girl sorry)

Paris – The Magic Man

Sing – Ed Sheeran

Latch (Acoustic) – Sam Smith

Paper Hearts – Tori Kelly

Make This Leap – The Hunts

2. Overallsoveralls

photo via style caffeinated 

You have no idea how excited I am that these are finally back in style. In all seriousness, I’ve continuously asked for the past year or so when overalls were going to be socially acceptable again, and now that they are, they’ve become one of my favorite pieces to wear. I have these soft olive overalls are a variation on the classic denim style and I absolutely LOVE them. Comfortable and trendy at the same time, they are the perfect school outfit.

3. Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Popcornpopcorn angiespopcorn.com

These vibrantly colored bags of pre-popped popcorn are so yummy and convenient since they’re single serving. Made with GMO free corn, popped in sunflower oil, and sprinkled with the minimum amount of salt, it’s a wholesome snack that has been keeping me going throughout this month.

4. Clothes Encountersjenn im via jenn im

photo via jenn im

Jenn Im is the lovely lady that runs this fashion YouTube channel, and she has been my total woman crush this month. With a killer sense of style and a charming personality, her weekly videos give me a fun little ten minute break from homework and what not, which is really helpful when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. Although her style is much bolder than mine, it’s interesting to see her style things and watch her develop her own style as I try to develop mine. And man do I wish I could pull off the bob as well as she does…

5. Homemade Guacamole

guac- myrecipes.com

photo via myrecipes

This is basically the easiest thing to make ever. And it tastes so much better than store-bought, I guarantee you after the first try you’ll never go back. I’ve taken to making a whole bunch (like 4 avocados worth), storing it in the fridge, and dipping everything from tortilla chips to bell pepper slices in it. It’s also super yummy spread on sandwiches. Go and try making some now. It’s for your own well-being.