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Updates in the New Year

15 Feb

I can’t wait for spring. Bring on those allergies!

Cherry Blossoms at Housing Department

Beautiful cherry blossoms outside Student Housing building

Oh, and happy belated Valentine’s Day to you!

Happy Valentine's Day :)

A purple daisy for you!

A purple daisy for you! --- Basket of roses and purple daisies courtesy of my mom.

Terrarium from Papa

Received a terrarium from Papa

It was one of my best friend’s birthday on January 23rd so I sent her a lovely care package filled with goodies.

Birthday Care Package: Chocolate covered pomegranit seeds, chocolate mints, Hi-Chew candy, a stuffed cow with a T-shirt that reads "Someone from UC Davis loves me", and a cute ducky letter ---- oh, and don't mind the awkward person in the background...that's just my friend (I think) or her roommate P

Dry Hair Remedy

My hair has been feeling dry because of the cold winter weather here, so I found a new way of hydrating it: avacados, bananas, and egg.

Now don’t laugh because it works. Ladies (and gents), if you have dry hair on the verge of split ends this is a great remedy.Many shampoos that claim to rehydrate hair have avacado oils so why not just ditch the extra chemicals and go straight for the real fruit? Bananas are also helpful for making hair shiny. However, I listed it below as optional because it gets very sticky and is hard to remove.

After the first use, I saw a great difference. My hair was soft and shinier. The next week I didn’t even have time to use the homemade remedy and my hair still was soft after shampooing.

Here’s what I did:

– 1 ripe avocado, mashed

– 1 egg, beaten lightly

– 1/2 ripe banana, mashed (optional)

– long-toothed comb (a must-have if using banana)

As you can see, the banana and avacado here are not that ripe. You MUST use ripe fruits otherwise the avacado will crumble instead of turning into a mush. Banana is also hard to smush but still useable.

After combining all these together in a clean bowl, spread onto the dry parts of your hair. For me, this was from the mid part of my hair to the bottoms (not the top). Lather up your hair as if you were shampooing. Keep in hair for 2 hours. Wash out, and then shampoo and condition hair as usual. Do this twice a week at least. Results guaranteed! :)

*If using the banana, then make sure you have a long-toothed comb. I suggest leaving hair wet after washing it, and thoroughly combing all the banana fibers out.

Since I’ve been away for a long time, I’ll just sum up these past 3-4 months as:

fun! Met lots of nice people at college.

successful! Got a 4.0 last quarter.

laid back! It didn’t seem like that last quarter but compared to this quarter, it sure is. This quarter is a killer with the extra class I’m taking, applying for jobs, and finding the right apartment to live in next school year.

Since it is the new year, I do have some resolutions:

1. Make more friends. –> I have a great start already :)

CKI Greengate Elementary Volunteer Event --- awesome people, might I add. <3

2. Maintain friendships better. –>Working on this. Care package is a start!

3. Keep up my grades. –>So far, so good.

4. Apply (and hopefully get hired) for a job during summer and/or the next school year. –>So far, I have a job for the summer as an Orientation Leader for incoming freshmen and transfer students! Yea!

5. Make the most of college socially, academically, and spiritually. –>Bible study is going well.

Things I would like to do:

– read more often

– sleep more

– go out more

– bake more

– update this blog more!

What are your new year’s resolutions? Or, why don’t you have any?

Food-related Tidbits from my Classes:

Think of this essay as orange. You want to squeeze it to get the juice, but you don’t want to squeeze it so much that all the pulp and seeds come out. I will grade your essay as if it were a glass of orange juice so try not to over think (and do) it; I don’t want any pulp or seeds. – Cultural Anthropology Teacher Assistant (TA)

You can’t be nice. In economics you’ll find that when you try to give something away you simply can’t do it. For example, there’s this restaurant in San Francisco that serves a $20 meal for only $10. Great deal right? Well not really. You see, the line of people waiting to eat at the restaurant is extremely long. People wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before they are seated. They pay less $ but they lose their time, which could be used for something more productively. Like they could be eating somewhere else, spending their money elsewhere, which would help society’s economy. This of course assumes that the monetary value of the people waiting is the same for all

Now assume the restaurant owners feel bad for the people waiting in line so they start serving FREE wine. Nice right? Nope. By doing this, the restaurant is creating rent seeking loss, hurting society’s total surplus, and wasting people’s time. – Microeconomics Professor

A mi me gusta cocinar, comer, y cenar. Y tu? – phrase from my Spanish essay (pardon the lack of accents and upside ? mark)

Translation: I like to cook, eat, and dine out. And you?

Comment below on what you like to cook or bake.

77. Cooks often add some salt to water before boiling it. Some people say this helps the cooking process by raising the boiling point of the water. Others say not enough salt is usually added to make any noticeable difference. Approximately how many grams of NaCl (salt) must be added to a liter of water at 1 atmosphere of pressure (normal room pressure) to raise the boiling point by 2C? Is this a typical amount of salt that you might add to cooking water? – Problem from my chemistry textbook

In regards, to this question what is salt used for if it’s not to raise the boiling point? I know some cooks add salt to water when boiling pasta to make it tastier.

Wow. 113 grams of salt is needed! Feel free to double check my math. There's always room for mistakes.

Breakfast Means Waffles, Omelettes, and Cinnamon Rolls!

16 Jan

Nothing beats coming home after a hectic week at school even with all the love my friends show me. There’s just something about the good old familiar-ness of home: the smell as I walk through the door, the expected squeaks when I walk on the wood floors, the constant nagging meows coming from my tabby cat, and especially the much appreciated hug and smile I get from my mom. :)

The next morning after sleeping in my bed again is even better because I wake up to mom cooking us breakfast. I stroll into the kitchen with sleep eyes still and offer to help her so we end up working together.

This morning was really no different. As I awoke, I found my mom preparing us omelets, so I decided to bake some cinnamon rolls from the dough I had, and then make some waffles too. It truly is amazing how much our tiny apartment kitchen can handle. (and stove/oven for that matter too!) Because I do like you, readers, oh so much, I’ll post the recipes for the bacon-onion omelet my mom made. The cinnamon roll recipe can be found in my previous post here. The waffles were simply made from a store bought mix and made using the Big Boss Grill (an info-mercial I got from a friend). I prefer to skip the syrup and butter and spread strawberry yogurt on mine. Yumm! :P

Mother Nell’s Bacon Onion Omelet

An original recipe that is sure to make you smile. Healthier alternatives in orange brown front.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs (or about a cup of egg beaters or egg whites)
  • 1/4 diced red onion (white or yellow is fine too)
  • a splash of milk
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 4 slices of bacon, sliced into 1/4 in pieces (or turkey bacon)
  • 3 large white mushrooms, sliced
  • pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

Procedure

  1. In a large cup or bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until thoroughly combined and fluffy. Set aside.
  2. Heat pan (we used a wok) with the vegetable oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot (2 minutes later), add the onions first until they are slightly browned. Then add the bacon slices that are slices again in 1/4 inch pieces and the sliced mushrooms. Cook mixture until fragrant and bacon is slightly browned. Add pepper and salt to taste, and little more oil if the oil is all soaked up so that the egg will not stick to the pan.
  3. Pour in egg and milk mixture and turn the stove to low-medium heat. Cook until the egg firms up and the top has a shallow pool of uncooked egg, about 5-6 minutes. Keep a close watch.
  4. With your spatula, lift the sides so the egg does not burn. Then fold one side over the other side as if you were folding a piece of paper in half. Cook omelet until it is fully cooked with no leaking egg mixture; takes about 2-3 minutes.

I hope you enjoy the recipe. It is the same one that my mom made me today. :) As always I love to hear your comments, feedback, and photos so feel free to email or comment below!

Kraft Fat Free Shredded Cheddar Cheese, reviewed

19 Sep

I have been an honest cheese lover ever since I discovered pasta at the early age of 5 years old. I remember being served a hot plate of spaghetti with a marinara sauce and meatballs. I was about to dig right into it when my mom placed a green container of white sprinkly stuff. The label on the green container read, “Kraft Grafted Parmesan Cheese”. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but my mom sprinkled some over her spaghetti so I did the same thing. Once I took a bite, I knew I had tasted heaven. I instantly poured on much more and continued to do so on all future pasta plates. I even are the cheese by the spoonfuls. I soon learned of the best kind of cheese: the fresh-grated. :) It was heaven.

As I grew up and realized that I shouldn’t have too much cheese and that the pasta actually tasted good without a lot of the heavenly shreds. I began to eat less of the cheese as I experimented with new sauces. Eventually, I even forgot to add the cheese. I know, how could I?

Well, while I was at my local grocery store, the Lucky’s, I spotted something that just caught my eye: Kraft Fat Free Shredded Cheddar Cheese. Could it be? A truly fat-free cheese? Would it taste it? Was it lying? Was this a gimmick? Was there a camera crew waiting to jump out and say, “You’re on candid camera! Your friend sent you in, you crazy cheese lover!”

I picked up the bag of cheese, paid, and left the store ready to try my new cheese. It was this new cheese that prompted me to make the thin crust pizza dough mentioned in the previous post.

The Krat Fat Free Cheese

$3.59 with a decent taste (pile it on!), 25% of calcium too!

Well, I can honestly say that it’s not as great as Kraft’s – or rather any normal brand’s – cheese. The taste isn’t as sharp, though I truth be told I did not buy sharp, so my taste buds might be off. There wasn’t as much flavor as cheese usually has.

Having said that, I must give it some credit. It is fat free after all. It’s definitely a good alternative to the regular cheese if you’re looking to stay healthy or cut back on fat/calories.  In just 1/4 cup, you get 25% of your daily Calcium with only 45 calories. Not too shabby. If you pile it on your food, you can actually get a decent taste and not feel guilty. I do have to mention that in the 1/4 cup, it has about 11% of your daily sodium so be careful if you’re watching your sodium intake. Also, on sale at my grocery store, it was $3.59, a dollar less than the $5 price tag. Not that bad, but I’m hoping that it’ll go down some more with time.

Personally, I love to sprinkle some garlic powder and the cheese on my Alvadaro’s Whole Wheat Sprouted (Non-Fat) Sourdough toast. It becomes a kind of garlic toast, but ditching the garlic is just as good for some cheese toast. It’s also great in tacos, on pizza, on pasta (duh!), and chili. As the days are getting colder, this is especially a tasty match.

If you end up trying the cheese, post a comment on what you think. I’d love to know what recipe you used too. :)

Morning Endeavors: Fat-Free Blueberry Muffins & Breakfast Burritos

26 Jul
Fat-Free Blueberry Muffins
from Krusteaz’s Mix


I love blueberry muffins. I’ve fallen in love with a Buttermilk Blueberry Muffin recipe from Joy of Baking. The muffins puff up and have almost a crunchy texture with a rustic look. Beautiful and wonderful taste. These aren’t like the giant ones from the store though; I have yet to find a recipe like that. If there are any suggestions, I’m totally up to the challenge. But anyway…

Making blueberry muffins has a been a kind of hassle for me because I usually buy the frozen blueberries because the raw ones are just always expensive and because I feel guilty eating them when it calls for lots of sugar or butter. But then, I found something the other day while at my local grocery store…

Krusteaz’s Fat-Free Blueberry Muffins with just 130 calories per muffin. ($3.5 per box; makes 11 muffins)

I was skeptical, but desperate for blueberry muffins. I grabbed the mix from the shelf and proceeded to buy it before I convinced myself otherwise.

I prepared the mix that very day and out came my beautiful blueberry muffins. :)

This is what the packaged blueberries looked like. I’ll agree that it didn’t look like much when I first saw it, but I just continued on determined to make blueberry muffins.

The muffins reached over the top of the paper liners, but not enough to call them “super top” muffins.

The inside was moist, soft, and delectable almost cake-like but a bit denser. The blueberries turned out perfectly fine, not too many streaks of blue when I folded them in. The overall result was that I’d make these again and again because it was so soft with the right amount of sweetness that I still can’t believe that these are fat free. Not as good as the buttermilk blueberry muffins I’m accustomed to making, but good enough to sustain me while I can eat guilt free. :)
—4.75/5

Healthy Breakfast Burritos
made w/ Mission Carb Balance Burritos

I couldn’t help myself; I was just on a roll while at the grocery store that day when I bought the blueberry mix. I happened upon Mission Carb Balance Whole Wheat Burritos (package of 8).

Nutrition Info Here.

I love whole grains and have given up eating refined grains except for the occasional buttermilk pancakes and english muffin. As for my pastas and toast at home, it’s all whole wheat so naturally I was tickled when I saw these. Burritos are perfect for summer when you start grilling because it’s so easy to just toss things in, roll it up, and then chow down.

These turned out perfect for my morning endeavor making breakfast. They were flat and thick, not fluffy or puffy like some of the other burritos I’ve come across.

Here’s some pictures of my healthy endeavor!

Turkey-n-Egg Burrito

Filling Ingredients:
– 2 slices Hillshire Farms Deli Sliced Honey Roasted Turkey
– 1/4 cup mixed greens
– 1 egg, scrambled w/ a handful of chopped chives and pepper and salt to taste
– 1/4 cup mix of sauteed and fresh, sliced white button mushroom
– 1/3 cup Thai fried rice from the Pagan Restaurant; any (fried) rice will do
*because of the Thai fried rice, I didn’t add any salsa, but I suggest that you do to give your burrito a good kick

Spam-n-Egg Burrito


Filling Ingredients:
– 2 eggs, scrambled w/ a handful of chives and pepper and salt to taste
– 1/4 cup sauteed white button mushrooms
– 3 slices of Hormel’s white turkey spam
– 1/3 cup Thai fried rice

Enjoy a healthier, lighter breakfast!

P.S. If you have a sweet tooth early in the morning, try making the ‘Lighter’ Pound Cake Loaf in my previous post. :)

Birthdays = Cake

8 Jul

Simple equation, right? I think we can all agree. :)

So my coworker’s birthday was today and I decided that to celebrate his birthday, I’d make him a deliciously moist cinnamon pecan coffee cake. I wish I could have taken a picture of the inside, but unfortunately I couldn’t give my coworker an already cut cake, so I had to resist the temptation. Then at work, there was just no time to take pictures: the cake was gone instantly by several hungry, breakfast-deprived people.

There’s the original recipe and then my (healthy) changes in italics. Here’s the original link as well.

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

Ingredients

Cinnamon Nut Filling and Topping:

  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (100 grams) toasted and chopped pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts (or a combination thereof)
  • 1/3 cup (50 grams) mini chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Coffee Cake:

  • 2 cups (200 grams) sifted cake flour (2 cups minus 4 tbl. all-purpose flour)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature (used 5 tbl. of non-fat vanilla yogurt and 5 tbl. of butter)
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room tempt.
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream (2/3 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt)
  • Procedure:

    1. Preheat oven
    2. to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Toast the nuts for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool and then coarsely chop. Set aside.
    3. Cinnamon Nut Filling and Topping: In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, ground cinnamon and flour. Set aside.
    4. Butter and flour a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper.
    5. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    6. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until softened (about 1 minute). Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and sour cream (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined.
    7. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Sprinkle about half of the nut topping on top of the batter. Cover with the remaining batter and then sprinkle with the remaining nut topping. Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan.
    8. Serve warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream.

    

    What I’ve Been Making Lately

    27 Jun
    Breakfast: Whole Wheat Pancakes with Strawberries

    Well, I’ve been having quite fun making breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings for the past two weeks and I’ve finally gotten around to posting the recipes and (delicious) photos. (You’ll come to learn that I use the word delicious a lot because, well, it is. :) )

    Whole-Wheat Pancakes with Strawberries

    This is a great alternative to the regular white flour pancakes. It keeps you fuller, offers more fiber, and is just naturally better for you than the processed stuff.

    Ingredients:

    – Bob’s Red Mill Buttermilk Pancake Mix (found here)
    *Just as a note, Bob’s Red Mill has so many other good mixes, flours, oats, and organic, non-gluten products. Check it out. I found it in my local Lucky’s Grocery store.

    Directions:
    You can either follow the directions on the back, or do what I do, which is…. omit the egg and just keep the same amount of water.
    1. Prepare and mix batter according to instructions on the box or on your recipe card.
    2. Pour about a teaspoon of oil on a pan on low heat. Sometimes I don’t even have to use oil if I use a non-stick pan.
    3. Pour about 1/4 or 1/4 of a cup of better into the pan.
    4. Watch for the bubbles to show evenly throughout the pancake and for the edges to turn slightly golden. (See picture below)
    5. Flip the pancake over. Cook otherside for less than a minute. Once done cooking, remove from pan immediately to prevent burning.
    6. Continue with the rest of the batter. Then marvel at your beautiful pancakes!
    Look for the bubbles and at the edges turning golden.

    Look for the bubbles and at the edges turning golden.

    Stuffed Tomato with Noodles

    Lunch Time: Stuffed Tomatoes with Noodles

    I took this idea from the “stuffed pepper” dinners I’ve seen on TV and in the magazines. This is a good alternative, but I must admit that there is an intense tomato flavor. Have more stuffing on the side.

    Ingredients
    serves 2

    • 2 large, round, stuffing tomatoes (or peppers)
    • 1.5lbs ground meat (i used lean ground turkey and sausages)
    • vegetables (optional), (i used broccoli)
    • 3-4 cloves cut garlic
    • pepper and salt for seasoning and to taste
    • pre-cooked noddles
    • 1 tbsp olive oil

    Directions:

    1. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    2. Put in cut up garlic. Cook and stir until slightly brown.
    3. Put in ground meat (and sausages if uncooked) and cook until no pink shows, breaking it up into small pieces. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Put in sausages if already cooked and add in the vegetables. Add in some more pepper if needed.
    4. Cut up tomatoes and take out the seeds while the meat is cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    5. Once meat is done cooking, divide everything into two equal portions, and put in the tomatoes. If there is extra, save it for the topping of the noodles.
    6. Place tomatoes on greased baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes. Watch the oven consciously. It will be done when the tomatoes are tender, but not completely wilted. Tomatoes should serve as a bowl for the meat so try not to over cook it.
    7. Serve with noddles!

    Dessert: Blueberry Galette with Lemon Ice Cream

    Blueberry Galette Recipe

    Ingredients
    Serves 6-8

    For lemon ice cream

    • 1 pt superpremium vanilla ice cream
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    For galette

    • 1 lb fresh blueberries (3 cups)
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie dough (from a 15-oz package)
    • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

    Directions:

    1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and butter foil.
    2. Make lemon ice cream:
      Transfer ice cream to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30 percent power at 10-second intervals until softened, about 50 seconds total. Stir in zest and juice, then thinly spread in a shallow baking pan and freeze while making galette.
    3. Assemble and bake galette:
      Stir together blueberries, cornstarch, zest, juice, cinnamon, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until combined.
    4. Unwrap pie dough and unfold onto baking sheet, then spoon blueberry mixture onto center of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around edge.
    5. Fold edge of dough over 1 inch of blueberry mixture, pleating dough, then dot blueberry filling with butter pieces. Lightly brush pastry with some of beaten egg and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon sugar.
    6. Bake until blueberry filling is bubbling and pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet on a rack. Serve warm galette with scoops of lemon ice cream.

    Blueberry Galette Recipe

    I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as I did. I have to say that the Blueberry Galette and lemon ice cream are probably the best recipes. But let me know, I could be wrong.

    Petition Worth Checking Out

    30 May

    I know when coming to petitions, most of us get lazy. Perhaps the first thing we think of are the people with clipboards at the grocery store trying to get you to sign their petition to save the whales, to save the rain forest, to save the lions, tigers, bears (oh my!). I get it. There are petitions everywhere trying to get you to sign this and sign this as if you weren’t tired of signing those bills already. But there they are, persistent and confident that their cause is worth getting rejected 1,000 times.

    I am that person.

    Now, usually I wouldn’t consider myself one of those (cause geez, I just feel bad for them when they’re standing out there in the cold getting weary looks and people avoiding them). But this is different.

    This petition is about how the media and fashion industry promotes “skinny” being “beautiful” when in fact, we know that is not true. Many girls who are just 10 years old are receiving this message and so many girls become anorexic or bulimic at such a young age. I remember reading young adult books about these kinds of things thinking, “Does this really happen?” And what I’ve realized is that, yes, this does happen. And we’ve got to do something about it. So, I founded this petition.

    The link is above as well as at the very bottom of all my posts. Sign the petition if you care, or simply check out the link and read more information about it. There’s a pretty cool video there too. Then, if you feel strongly to, pass it on to your friends. :)

    Beauty is of all sizes. Each one of us is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous just the way we are. We are who we are and no one can change that. Help me tell the fashion industry of the United States that they should have models that are not just a size 0 or 2. Represent us equally, please!