Alton Brown’s Stinky Dog Biscuits

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Did you know dogs can count? Well, Zoli the Office Dog can count to two. Every morning, I give him two pumpkin peanut butter dog treats, but yesterday I ran out and I could only give him one. He followed me around the rest of the day, and sat next to me while I ate my lunch. I felt pretty bad.

I was going to wait until the weekend to make him a refill, but a friend had given my roommate some free produce so what was I to do except make more treats. I brushed half of them with fish sauce, and I would recommend skipping it if you have an open kitchen. Even with the fan on, the smell is quite robust. I packed them up last night, and this morning I walked out to the kitchen area and my roommate had lit a scented  candle. Oops.

The dusting of oat flour on top gives them a much prettier appearance than Damn Delicious’ treats. In the pictures, it almost looks like powdered sugar. Zoli loved them, and Chloe who is our very shy other office dog, abandoned her chewie toy to chop on this treat. She enjoyed it in the safe confines of the place under her master’s desk.  Continue reading

Three Ingredient Coconut Sugar Body Scrub

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I am not a fan of body butters and creams.It’s too cold when I get out of the shower. It doesn’t matter how nice it smells, it’s cold and gloopy, and yes, first world problems. Oftentimes, I just skip it, but then I get all scaly. If you have a similar problem than this body scrub is going to be your new best friend.

This stuff is the bomb! It was only three ingredients (coconut oil, sugar, and orange zest), and my skin felt silky smooth and moisturized afterwards. I could literally see the water beading on my skin. It was like I was coated with sealant! When I got out the shower, my skin felt nice plump but not greasy or oily. However, my elbows and heels could use a little more love. My only complaint — a teeny tiny whine — is that it was overwhelmingly coconut with a dash of orange. But that might be the quality of Trader Joe’s produce.  Continue reading

Chocolate Espresso Shortbread

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A few weeks ago, I acquired some Red Velvet Coffee from Peerless Coffee and it smells like a chocolate factory. I know, because I toured the Scharffenberger factory three times. They gave out free chocolate. The Red Velvet coffee smells rich and chocolate-y with vanilla. The taste is wonderful, and I have tried to convince people to come over just so I can brew them a cup. When that failed — who wants a cup of coffee 9 at night? — I decided I needed to bake with it just to share it with more people in the world.

Most of the coffee shortbread recipes I came across used instant espresso — bah! — but I did come across one that used three tablespoons of ground coffee. I was too chicken to try three tablespoons so I did a much more moderate 1 tablespoon. In future attempts, I think I will add a tablespoon or two of strong coffee into the cookie batter (if only for the color), but I’m happy with the result as is. It’s crisp and crumbly and not overly sweet.  I was told it was good on its own, but out of this world when eaten between sips of black coffee.It went fast! Continue reading

Fluffy Cinnamon Cake

cinnamon-square.jpgWith such names as St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake and Gooey Cinnamon Cake, I was intrigued and repulsed at the same time. Gooey is a gross sounding word. It’s a gross looking word; three vowels all in a row? Please. Goo reminds me of baby food and questionable substances that ooze. Hot fudge would never be described as gooey, even though it is. Maybe fresh chocolate chip cookies out of the oven are gooey, but doesn’t molten sound better?

This cinnamon cake is both dense and with a fluffy texture. It’s not spongy or airy like angel food, but it is slightly buoyant. There is a cookie, almost short bread-like base, with a second layer made of whipped butter, sugar, egg, and flour. Lastly, it is dusted with two tablespoons of cinnamon sugar, and baked until it puffs up. It is easily eaten with your hands with a cup of coffee or tea with milk. You could use a fork, but it’s so rich that it’s best served in tiny squares and tiny squares need no utensils.
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Guest Post: Dr T’s Nian Gao 年糕

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I’m very pleased to my sister Dr T on as my first guest ever! Dr T is currently a PhD candidate and writes about her life as a graduate student. You can hop onto her blog here.
Happy Lunar New Year!
2015 is the year of the Ram! Chinese New Year’s is a holiday centered on food, fortune, and metaphors. The traditional foods that are eaten in celebration of the New Year’s are meant to bring prosperity and fortune to all. Chinese is a rather poetic language, replete with homophones and many of the dishes are a play on words. My favorite thing to eat and make at New Year’s is niangao, which translates as year cake. This dish is meant to represent the coming of an auspicious year; the two words figuratively translate as “high year”. I love making red bean niangao, but this year I was adventurous and made my own savory niangao too. Continue reading

Nutty Brown Butter Carrot Cake

carrot cake batterIt was my friend’s birthday Saturday — Valentine’s Day — so I wanted to bake him a cake. I found out from his girlfriend his favorite kind of cake and baked it Friday. There was only one small hiccup. He was in Taiwan and I was in the US, so I ate the cake and sent him pictures. I thought that would be hilarious; I’m not sure he felt the same way.

As usual, I cut about 1/4 to 1/3 of the sugar out of the recipe, because white granulated sugar doesn’t taste like anything. It just tastes SWEET in all caps, sucker punch to the teeth. I also didn’t have enough cream cheese, and I learned the hard way that you absolutely do need an entire pound of cream cheese if you want to frost this cake the right way.
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Toaster Oven Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate chunk cookies  The oven at my parents’ house is broken, but I had the baking bug.

So last night, I made 40 chocolate chip cookies in increments of 6 and 7 in the toaster oven. It took me two hours. It was perhaps not the wisest use of my time, but this goes to show that you can make perfectly respectable looking chocolate-y cookies with the humblest of tools.

I didn’t have chocolate chips so I chopped up about a cup’s worth of chocolate. I think it’s more visually appealing to have chunks and specks and swirls of chocolate. Also, I think most chocolate chip cookie recipes have way too much chocolate! The people who ate them didn’t miss the chocolate one bit. Some recipes have 1:1:1 chocolate, flour, and sugar ratio, but I think a little sweetness goes a long way. We gotta keep things classy! Continue reading

Freezer Tofu Spaghetti with Kimchi

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Every family has its own dialect. As a Chinese-American, I grew up speaking Chinglish and I remember that odd moment, when I realized not all the words I was using were really words. They were not English or Chinese or even malapropisms, but some remnant of baby talk and repeated mishearing. So it is with some trepidation when I introduce the concept of “freezer tofu.” You see, I’m not sure if it’s a real thing. Continue reading

Vegetable Thai Soup

thai soupDespite it’s imprecise measurements (what precisely is a good knob of ginger and a small job of vegetable stock?), I hold the BBC recipe for Simple Thai Noodle Soup, near and dear to my heart. My friend Tracy gave me a genuine Thai soup recipe that she learned in Thailand — she lived there for two years — and I prefer my Anglicized version. I just don’t have Tracy’s magic touch!

I have made a few changes to the recipe over the years. You can read more about it here, but the chief difference is that I pinned down some of the measurements and I strain out the herbs and spices before the addition of the protein, vegetables, and coconut milk. Continue reading