Breakfast, Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes

Earl Grey and Chocolate Chunk Scones

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Yesterday the weather was a tad gloomy, and I was in the mood for tea. What better to go with a cup o’ tea than some scones? Better yet, tea-flavoured scones!

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The ingredients. Very basic pantry staples that anyone would have at home.

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Straining the infused cream. Make sure to press all the liquid out of the tea bags, to get all that yummy flavour out!

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Mixing all the dry ingredients.

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Turning out the dough on a lightly floured surface, then cutting into wedges. After baking they came out pretty gigantic (about the size of a large man’s fist!!) so next time I make them I think I’ll just roll it out and use cutters to keep them petit.

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After an egg wash and a light sprinkling of sugar.

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Fresh out of the oven, with the chocolate still gooey. The scones came out very tender, and the earl grey gave it a lot of warmth and a bit of a cinnamon undertone. Would not hesitate to make again!

Earl Grey Chocolate Chunk Scones

recipe adapted from Advanced Bread and Pastry

Makes 8 large scones

13 oz heavy cream

4 bags earl grey tea

12 oz bread flour

3 oz sugar

1/2 oz baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

5 oz dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

2 oz honey

1 egg

1 Tablespoon water

In a small saucepot, submerge tea bags in cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn off heat and let steep at least 30 minutes, covered.

Preheat your oven to 375F. In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine your bread flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder, and mix until there are no lumps. Add chocolate chunks and mix until combined.

Strain infused cream, pressing on tea bags to get any excess liquid out. Whisk together cream and honey, then add to mixing bowl with dry ingredients. Mix on low just until all ingredients are combined.

Flour a 8″ round cake pan or mold, then press dough into pan. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and cut into 8 wedges. Separate wedges onto a lightly greased sheet pan covered with wax or parchment paper, keeping scones 1″  apart.

Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water, then brush over tops of scones. Sprinkle tops lightly with granulated sugar. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and scones are cooked through.

Let cool and enjoy with a cup of tea!

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DIY, Fashion, Sewing

Golden Peplum

So I’ve wanted a fitted yellow dress for a while now, basically ever since I saw this Sugababes music video, and I’ve also been trying to figure out how to make a peplum dress for a long time too; what better time than in the midst of Spring?

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Cute, right? This one is from AX Paris, for $48. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any sort of peplum dress anywhere here, and I’m also still trying to save up money for the wedding so buying one was out of the question. It was time to fire up the sewing machine once again!

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I chose a dark gold fabric with green undertones, and it actually came out pretty nice and was a lot easier to make than I thought. Basically you just make a simple pencil skirt, sew a mini circle skirt on top of it, and attach a basic tank top. From start to finish this dress took roughly 2 hours to make.

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Robert kept making me laugh in these pictures! Sigh, that boy! Anyway, while I’m not a big fan of ruffles, I think peplums add a nice touch of femininity to some dresses, and the bateau neckline keeps it classy.

If you want to make your own peplum dress, I suggest watching this video from LoveSewing.com, and have fun!

Create Your Own Office Peplum Dress

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Dinner, lunch, Recipes

Guava and Chipotle BBQ Chicken and White Bean Salad

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Today I decided to surprise Robert with a nice little lunch to go with this amazing weather we’ve been having. One of the things my grandma likes to add to any of her barbeque is a fruit jam or jelly; I know it sounds odd but she makes some amazing BBQ, so my hat’s off to her!

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I also wanted to add a simple, fresh salad to go along with the chicken, so I opted for a white bean salad with a red wine vinaigrette. Robert and I are (or were supposed to be) competing against each other to lose weight before summertime, and so far he’s winning. Sigh! Guess i better get my credit card ready…

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Both these recipes are fairly simple, and you can add or subtract anything to your own tastes.

Guava and Chipotle BBQ Chicken

4 boneless chicken thighs (skinless, if that’s your thing)

1/2 cup guava jam

2 heaping Tablespoons teriyaki sauce

1 tsp dried ground chipotle

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon lemon or lime juice

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your broiler or grill.

Whisk together your guava jam, teriyaki sauce, chipotle, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper until there are no more lumps. Keep one ounce of this mixture separate, then toss your chicken thighs in the rest. Let sit 5 minutes.

If using the broiler, cover a sheet pan with foil and (very lightly) grease it. Drain the excess marinade from the chicken and place flat on sheet pan, and broil 7 minutes on each side. Coat chicken with reserved marinade after turning, and when done, turn the chicken and coat again. Let rest at least 5 minutes before enjoying!

If using a grill, oil your grill and cook chicken 7 minutes on each side, basting with reserved marinade until fully cooked. Let chicken rest at least 5 minutes before eating.

Simple White Bean Salad

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, medium dice

1 oz shallots, sliced thinly

1 medium can white beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 oz fresh basil, chiffonade

2 oz red wine vinegar

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp celery salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

3-4 oz olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Make your vinaigrette: whisk together red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and spices, then stream in olive oil and whisk until completely emulsified. Toss in your mushrooms, bell pepper, tomato, shallot, white beans, and basil, toss until everything is coated in vinaigrette. Taste to check for proper seasoning, then chill until ready to eat.

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Cake, DIY

Progression of a Birthday Cake, and a Happy Birthday!

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Today is my best friend’s birthday, and I decided to celebrate this joyous occasion by making a cake. Surprise, right?? Anyway, Elaine’s favorite flavor is green tea, so I went for a green tea cake with strawberries and vanilla italian buttercream.

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After trimming and dividing the sheet.

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A nice layer of buttercream

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aaaand some strawberries.

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Adding the second layer of cake.

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Spackling on some icing with cake decorator extraordinaire, Senor Roberto, aka the hubby-to-be!

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Woohoo!

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A bit o’ piping along the sides,

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and some more help from Senor Roberto, making some chrysanthemums.

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The finished cake! Woohoo!

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All boxed up and ready to go! For the green tea cake, I went to GreenTeaParadise and used recipe #2, and for a tutorial on how to pipe chrysanthemums, you can go to the queen herself, Martha Stewart. Anyway, I hope you have an amazing birthday, Elaine, and may every year treat you better as they come!

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Cake, DIY, Recipes, Vegan

Make Your Own [Vegan] Marshmallow Fondant

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If you’ve ever used fondant before, whether it was to enrobe a cake or add a bit of flair to a cupcake, you probably already know that the stuff’s expensive. Besides, why use over-priced and dried out fondant when you can make your own? What I like about this recipe is that even if you’re not vegan, it works just as well with normal marshmallows and now that summertime is approaching, marshmallows are dirt cheap at the grocery!

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What you’ll need:

10 oz vegan marshmallows (I used Dandies from Whole Foods)

18 oz powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons water

A bowl for an electric mixer, along with a paddle attachment

A large pot with 1″ of water (pot needs to be large enough to fit the bowl over)

A rubber spatula

*I’ve also seen some people add a tablespoon or so of vegetable shortening, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea but I opted not to use it this time

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Step 1: Melt down your marshmallows

Bring your pot of water to a boil, then place your bowl with marshmallows on top and stir as it melts. I have seen a few recipes that tell you to microwave the marshmallows, but as someone who’s burnt a thing or two in the microwave (sighh…) this is just the safest option, and also the cleanest as you will be using the same bowl to mix it later.

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Step 2: Add your water and stir!

Stir together the marshmallows and water until the mixture is fully incorporated and there are no more lumps.

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Step 3: Mix in powdered sugar.

Place your bowl in your mixer with the paddle attachment, and with the mixer on the LOWEST setting, slowly add your powdered sugar. It will look really dry for the first few seconds, but it should come together and begin looking like a dough. Mix just until it looks like everything is combined.

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Step 4: Knead and rest!

Remove dough from bowl and onto a clean countertop, and knead until it can form a smooth ball. As you can see, my fondant still looks a tad dry. I triple wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it rest for a bit, to let the moisture distribute throughout the dough. If you’ve ever made pasta before, it’s the same principle: the dough needs to rest before you can roll it out. I’m thinking that if I added shortening, I probably wouldn’t have to let it rest so long, but it’s not an ingredient that I really like to use a lot of.

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Step 5: Knead in your color.

Knead in the color of your choice, and roll it on top of a clean counter with powdered sugar. If you use a liquid coloring agent, you may also want to knead in some more powdered sugar to keep it from being too moist.

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Step 6: Go crazy!

Use your fondant the same way you would use any other rolled fondant, and relish in the fact that you didn’t have to buy that Wilton nonsense at Michaels! For the vegan chocolate cupcakes I went to AllRecipes, and for a tutorial on fondant flowers I went to Amanda’s Parties. Have fun!

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DIY, Fashion, Sewing

High-Waisted Shorts and a Tale of Revenge

Last week I went out with a friend to a very well-known and high end shopping center in southern cali, which will remain unnamed for the story’s sake (hint: it has the same initials as the phrase “Some Cats Poop.”). Anyway, we were shopping around and came across the store Zara, where I spotted and quickly fell in love with these shorts.

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But alas, a dilemma arose when I saw the price tag. $40 for a pair of shorts that I could probably only wear during summer? I have a wedding to save up for, dammit, and here these shorts are, flaunting around their cuteness in front of me while I tried to hold back my impulse-buying senses. I decided to shop around to other stores before committing.

After shopping around, I decided that I NEED these shorts. Like, NOW. I head back to Zara, only to find that they are closing. I walk into the store, only to be promptly turned away by an employee.

“But I know what I want! I’m just gonna get one thing!”

“Sorry, WE’RE CLOSED.”

Well sheesh. There was certainly no need for raising your voice, and I was immediately off-put by her rudeness, almost angered by it. If someone came into my restaurant 1 minute before closing, we would still have sat him and offered him a menu as if he were the first person there, because that’s just good service, and I shouldn’t have to tell that to anyone working at SCP!

So, I was on a mission. What was the next best thing I could do? Make’em of course!

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I was certainly not going back to that place after that incident, so I furiously perused the interwebz for a free shorts pattern. I have never made shorts before, so it was somewhat of a challenge, but luckily I came across Danielle’s free pattern on Burdastyle. The pattern is actually for spandex volleyball shorts, but could be easily adjusted for what I wanted to achieve.

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Close-up of the buttons. I opted for a soft, stretchy camel-colored fabric; I wanted something neutral that could easily transition between any season.

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Et voila! I’ll admit that at first the pattern was a tad intimidating, as I haven’t used a sewing pattern in over 3 years. At first it was like I was cutting out a puzzle piece from hell, as I couldn’t quite figure out what piece goes where, but once I got it down it was actually quite simple. I adjusted it to make it high-waisted by adding a few inches to the top, and also added a few inches to the sides as the pattern is only offered in size small. I love that it came out looking very 1940’s-esque.

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So take that and shove it, snooty Zara saleswoman! I don’t need your overpriced clothing! Just kidding; I’ll probably go back another time wearing some sort of disguise, just so you don’t recognize me as the girl who tried to sneak in while you were about to close.

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Breakfast, Cake, Custard, fruit, Gluten Free, Recipes

Gluten Free Loquat and Almond Clafoutis

It’s springtime, which means stone fruit are well in season. The loquat tree in Robert’s backyard is lookin’ pretty good nowadays, so I wanted to make something with the fruit while it lasted.

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Loquats are very tender, sweet and slightly tart fruits, almost like apricots. The texture and color are comparable to cantaloup.

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The finished clafoutis. A clafoutis is a french baked dessert that traditionally has cherries, and is almost like a cross between a custard and a pancake.

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Some of the ingredients.

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Dry ingredients. Since I only had sliced almonds instead of almond flour, I pulsed the almonds, salt, and granulated sugar together until it became a fine powder.

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After adding the wet ingredients. The batter should look thin, almost like crepe batter.

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After baking.

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A slice for me 🙂 Over all, this recipe was really easy and produced some good results. The almonds added a subtle sweetness, and the loquats were perfectly ripe, and not overly tart or sweet.

Gluten Free Loquat and Almond Clafoutis

for 1 (10″) baking dish

recipe adapted from GourmandInTheKitchen

6 ripe loquats, peeled, pitted, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced thinly

1 cup coconut milk

3 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon brandy or cognac

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup almond flour (or you can pulse some almonds like I did)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sliced almonds

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat your oven to 375F, and grease a 10″ ceramic baking dish.

Using a blender, pulse together almond flour, salt, and sugar until there are no lumps. Add your coconut milk, eggs, vanilla, and brandy, then blend until smooth. the batter should be really thin.

Arrange your slices of fruit neatly on your baking dish, then slowly pour batter over the fruit. Be careful, as it may displace some of your arrangement.

Carefully place dish in oven, then bake 35-40 minutes or until top of clafoutis looks golden brown. Let sit at room temp for 10-15 minutes, then dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!

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