Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coconut Banana Bread with Key Lime Glaze and a side of Moving Madness

 It's been a terrible week. So much going on, as well as going WRONG. But all in all, VERY WELL. This does not make sense. But it will after a few minutes, I swear. But where to begin.

Luck has been on my side lately, only for a few important things. Shouldn't be complaining right? WRONG. Since I got into school, my moving situation has been a success. I've managed to transfer jobs. This is good. Very good. However, my awesome super stupid manager who treats everyone like crap except me because I happen to be so amazing has given me a great review to my new manager in Georgia; I was spoken of with a high recommendation. This is good. But bad. Now I have to work hard and live up to that expectation. But that's fine. Why? Because Statesboro is MUCH smaller than San Diego. This means less customers, less craziness, less frustration and stress. I'm almost positive more than 35% of customers do in fact, speak english. I'm almost positive that 100% of customers will speak english. So I'm not complaining, yet. Also, I found a place to stay when I get there, until I can find my own apartment. This makes me a happy camper. Everyone has turned out exactly how I needed, not wanted. Which is EVEN BETTER!

HOWEVER, my driving situation went down the tiolet. My best friend happened to receive a speeding ticket (not surprised) and could find no one to work her shifts this weekend. It's unfortunate because she's my best friend, and well, that's how it works. So I have to drag my mom with me; it's really nothing to be upset about. BUT I AM. I COULD DIE. Last year, before we took a family trip up to Oklahoma, I had this dream. My mom and I were driving the corolla, brake got stuck, flew off a cliff and died. Why does this scare me? Last month my dad told me about there being a recall on all corollas. Apparently, a small family, driving this great quality car, flew off a cliff and all died. Why? The drivers mat slid up and locked the brake pedal. This should make sense now. I'm terrified to drive with my mom. We leave Saturday, stop in Austin, then make our way to Statesboro. I'm just happy that everything has been working out, sort of. I haven't even started packing yet, and I leave in two days. I'm a slacker. Welcome to my life.

There is also another part of my life that has been going WRONG, but yet well. And of course, this is the date life section. I used to be so good at men. Now I just fail so hard. I have seem to lost my mojo. I realized this yesterday when I summed up the past 8 months of my life. First, I date a guy I met on the interweb for a few months (SAD RIGHT?), then I get stood up by another guy, THEN I crush on another who only talks to me to show how great of a guy he is. This is also the pathetic part of my life. It also falls into the social category where I have lost all ability to socialize. I have a total of two friends here in California. Yes, two. And yet, I'm not bothered.

I attempted to make this banana bread a few months ago. It came out delicious and also came from the amazing Peabody. I have to say, the best part of this bread is the glaze. I couldn't get enough of it. I also added a little more lime juice to the glaze to thin out a little.

Coconut Banana Bread with Key Lime Glaze

2 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
1/3 cup yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter down a large loaf pan.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a larger bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time. Add banana, yogurt/sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. On low speed, add the flour mixture. Fold in coconut. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bread passes the toothpick test.

The other day I was reading someones blog who did something interesting. With cooling bread, he laid the pan on the side while cooling. I haven't tried this, but I think I will next time. Anyway, while the bread is cooling...

Key Lime Glaze:
1 tbsp shredded sweetened coconut, you can use more if you like
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 tbsp key lime juice

Combine all ingredients with a whisk. Drizzle over bread while warm. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Creative Reminiscence And Some Healthier "Fried" Chicken

All of my grade school years, I was creative. I wrote, I drew, I thought, I imagined. I'm old now, so a lot of that has disappeared, but I'm sure there is a tiny spark of creativity that will last me a good chunk of whatever years I have. In my last year of high school, I wrote a book. This is how I almost failed high school graduation. I had to lie about my community service hours because those hours were spent locked in my room, writing. I remember at one point it was so intense, I woke up in the middle of the night, lit a candle, and continued writing. Those nights, I felt so crazy; I couldn't stop my pen from forming words, to sentences, to paragraphs to pages. At one point, I forgot about reality. But lets not forget, I was young. Anywho, the book was mostly non-fiction, with a few personal experiences tied in. It was about war, family, and choices. One of my favorite parts is when the main character imagines her fantasies in a public library.

   "Excuse me."
   Everything disappeared. The dancers, the candle-lit ballroom, the mysterious shadow, all because of...
   "Excuse me."
   Alet caught herself before crashing into another body. She looked up and saw a tall boy with black hair and blue eyes. It was rare to see someone with that pair in her town. A sudden rush of embarrassment and anger flourished her face when she found to the words to speak. "How long were you watching?"
   "I just walked in. Someone left the door open."
   "You didn't....hear anything, did you?" Alet responded.
   "Besides your bad singing? No."
   Alet's face turned red; she looked as if she was about to explode in defeat. She tried to find the words to retaliate but nothing came to mind.
   "Who are you? You're not supposed to be in here! Get out, now!" Alet was so embarrassed, everything came out in a slur.
   "My name is--"
   "No, I don't care. You have to leave. Don't make me force you."
   "You? Force me? You're a funny girl. I was just checking to see if everything was alright.
   Another blow to her ego. "Okay well everything is fine. You can leave--." Before Alet even finished her sentence, the boy was gone. She never felt so ridiculed in her life. The town was small, so everyone knew eachother.
   "What an ass!" she yelled in frustration.
   Alet stood in the library for a moment, replaying what happened in her head. A view of a the moon from the windows reminded her of how late it was. Packing up her books, she headed out the door with her face still red.

I wrote this while under the effects of inspiration to do what I wanted. At that point, I had the idea I was going to attend the Art Institute and major in game design. As soon as I realized that wasn't going to happen, I lost it all. I picked up a job, and stopped writing. I even stopped playing music. Sucks right? Not entirely. We all have to grow up at some point. We put away our younger interests into a small box and keep that secured in a locked dresser. And when we get out of work, we pull it out and remember all those things we used to love. Exactly how Mrs. Darling states in the 2003 version of Peter Pan. Do I regret not going to the Art Institute? No. Do I regret not pursuing my creativity? No. I'm kind of glad I got it over with. Otherwise I think I'd still be a child, haha. I definitely would NOT know what I know now about life, how it works for us, and how it works against us.

So, being so old, I only make sugary sweets that could maybe, I don't know...kill you. Trying to move away from this, I have been making attempts at actual food, which has been GREAT. Cooking is as enjoyable as baking with a little less weight guilt. Typically, I like to eat healthier food versus healthier snacks/desserts. Since my mom has been in the Philippines for almost four weeks now, I have been searching for stupid easy chicken recipes you shouldn't fail. However, to get things right, you have to fail at least once. WHICH FAILS IN ITSELF. But you get the idea. My oldest brothers talk of healthier eating has kind of wormed it's way into my diet and...cravings. Yes, I crave healthy food. I found this great, easy chicken recipe off All Recipes that didn't require a trip to the store. AND it's not FRIED. It came out super moist and delicious. I didn't use the dried thyme and paprika because I didn't have any, might have tasted a little better with it. The only thing I do recommend is NOT using mayo for a coat. That sounds silly in a literal sense. Or maybe use a lot less mayo because the bottom of the chicken's crustiness will get a little soggy if you don't turn them over at a certain time. Or you can be real southern and use some buttermilk. Everyone's oven is different. KNOW YOUR OVEN!

Oven Fried Chicken
Adapted from All Recipes

6 chicken legs
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/3 cup mayo
1/3 milk

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and mayo until smooth. Coat the chicken in the mayo, ha. In a larger bowl, combine the crumbs, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Coat the chicken in the crumb mix. Place the chicken legs on a lightly greased baking rack and bake for 20-25 minutes on both sides, depending on your oven. Don't use a baking dish, the juices from the chicken will soak and ruin the crispy coating. To make them extra crispy, broil for the last 5 minutes. Makes 6 legs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rasberry Coffee Cake

I've been trying to stick to a healthy diet. But it's so damn hard! While eating more fruits, whole wheats, and less fats, I've managed to sneak in TONS of chocolate. This is bad. Yesterday, I had two snickers, pieces of some fancy dark chocolate/ginger bar, and a bag filled with chocolate chips and Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal. I got home from work and felt TERRIBLE. I was laying in bed thinking, "I've put myself into yet another sugar coma." Seeing as how all the sugar made me sick, I've decided I'm done with chocolate and high sugar foods. For now.

Months and months ago, I made this amazing coffee cake. Found it while browsing around Joy of Baking. There is something about fruits and cream cheese that make me go nuts. This cake is super soft and springy with the perfect amount of cream cheese and fruit. The recipe originally called for blackberries, but all I had was raspberry preserves. Love raspberries, love preserves. It worked out for me. Not to mention streusel completes my life. This statement does not help my previous paragraph at all, but you get the idea.

Raspberry Coffee Cake
1/3 cup AP flour
1/3 white sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp lemon zest (I left this out, but I'm sure it would taste much better with it)
1 tbsp AP flour

1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh raspberries, blackberries, or whatever berry OR 1/2 cup preserves

Preheat over to 350F. Butter a 9 in. springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, my best friend, your best friend. Set aside.

For the streusel: Mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the butter, cutting with a pastry blender or face smash with a fork until you get crumbs. Set aside.
For cream cheese filling: Beat the cheese until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla, zest and flour until well mixed and smooth. Set aside.
For the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt if using. In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, scrape down sides as necessary. Add the flour mix, alternating with the milk twice. Beat only until combined. You don't want to over mix.

Spread the batter on to the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides. Then spread the cream cheese mix on top of that. Then scatter the berries over, or dot the top with preserves, try to get an even finish. Lightly swirl with a knife if you have to, but try to not to let it interfere with the cake/cream cheese layer. Top with streusel. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown and passes the toothpick test. You may want to let this thing cool for a couple hours if you are using preserves.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rant #1

You ever sit down to do something, and in that process of doing something your mind wanders off? You begin to think about something completely unrelated to what you were about to do. For instance, you sit down at your laptop, ready to hit the 'sign in' button to your email because you're hoping you've gotten something from Federal Student Aid; this excites you. After about half a millisecond you click that button, you think about sitting on a makeshift stool, milking cows. Then you start wondering about it, look back at your screen then think about why you were checking your email. You HATE that you do this. You hate that this happens. You then start to hate your laptop, and wonder why it's such a piece of crap. I mean, you spent $1500 on this thing, and yet it runs slow as shit. Then you feel a strange pressure in your bowels. Well this is completely unrelated to that.

I realized today how pathetic my life is so far.

I've waited about five months to get into school, which has been turning out the way I planned minus the timing. Yesterday, I received a phone call from a woman, whom I'm sure is annoyed with me; she told me that I have been admitted. Literally speaking here, I jumped and screamed not only because I was happy, but because I was so happy, I felt crazy. JUST like David after dentist. I know my parents aren't too excited about my leaving the state [zooms to mom and dad in the kitchen *crickets*]. It'll be worth it. So, now, down to a little less than a month, I have NOTHING to do with my life. I bake. I text two-three people. I play wow, again. Sigh. And I work. My job keeps me crazy occupied. I think I scored with my work at this point in my life, which is sad because my life plays out like this: work > social life. Because social life, DOES NOT EXIST. Why? Because of my one friend. Actually no, because I'm picky. It's hard to find friends here in south San Diego. I still blame this one friend though, she doesn't get away with shit. There is a possible second friend here, but she's in FUCKING OKLAHOMA. I love you Marie.

So not only do I rely on a kiddy pool of social networking, but I've found that entertaining myself through trolling people I don't know and don't like has been high on the list of interest. Example: Facebook. Who? I'd rather not say, but this person is someone I don't exactly care for. Why? Because he's in love with me. Why?...again? Well, it's not as bad as it sounds; I'm not explaining the story. Like I said, my life is pathetic. I've no one else to give my time to, so it will be given those people who ask, probably not in the most gracious of ways. I feel like an asshole. But hey, I'm happy. Real happy. It's been a while.

My oldest brother came to visit a couple days ago. He lost so much weight; I was so proud of him. There was no starving, no surgery, no crazy pills, just healthy eating and Muay Thai. I love that he's gotten into this fighting style. We talked for a long time about his whole change. His trainer is named Waachim Spiritwolf. I kinda flipped. Spiritwolf? Are you kidding me? That has to be one of the best last names ever. My brother mentioned how he was Native American. Then he mentioned that WE were part Native American. I have never heard this news and refused to believe it. That changed when I was looking for my parents tax forms from 2008. I found my dads birth certificate and looked it over. Then I saw that Grandma Edna was from freakin Canada. What does that mean? I'm 1/4 Canadian. How the hell?!?! Why are there so many things my parents decide NOT to bring up. You can't exactly specify on some application that you're American/Filipino/Canadian/Native American, but it's still nice to know.

As much as I'd like to keep this going (we have something good going here) I HAVE to sleep. Because I'm OLD now. AGE is GREAT. I think I've said enough here anyway.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I used to have so many issues making cheesecake. I could never figure out how long to wait before eating it. In the middle of the last week I worked at American Apparel (hated it there), we were having a Christmas party that weekend. I volunteered to make mini oreo cheesecakes. And my god, it was the worst idea ever.

A few days before the party, I made the filling and had it chilled over night. The next morning, I put everything together, baked and put back in the oven. The day after that, I tried one. It. Was. Terrible. Didn't taste like cheesecake, oreos, or anything edible. That also happened to be the day of the party. Knowing myself pretty well, I freaked out and assumed I messed up the ingredients somehow. So after the stupid rummage sale I signed up for, I sped to the closest grocery store, and made another attempt. I still had about 4 hours till the party started when I set it in the fridge to chill. After those four hours, I tried it again. AND AGAIN IT WAS FUCKING TERRIBLE. I raged, stomped over to Vons, picked up a boston cream pie, and drove my angry ass to work.

The next couple days, I noticed that no one had thrown out the cakes. My mom came into the kitchen and told me the cheesecake came out really good and insisted that I eat one. I refused. I didn't want to know if they tasted good or not. Either way, I would have raged. So hard. After this, I learned that the longer the cheesecake is chilled, the better the flavors combine, thus resulting in tasty goodness. Not to mention, you probably don't want to calculate all the unhealthy goods in this recipe, but nonetheless, it's adapted from the amazing Paula Dean. Southern Cooking is for the win.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 3/4 graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter

3 packages of 8 oz cream cheese
1 can of 15 oz pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter.
Press mixture down into a spring form pan. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add puree, eggs, yolk, sour cream, sugar and spices until combined. Then add flour and vanilla until well combined.
Pour on to the crust and spread out evenly. Bake for an hour, depending on your oven, or until the cake is set. Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Now you MUST chill this thing for a good chunk of hours; 4 is recommended, but hell, I'd go for 2 or 3 days.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Peanut Butter Amazing-ness

So last night, I realized how much parchment paper is my best friend. I would be a sorry baker had I not ever known about this paper. This thing has saved my ass countless times. There is no need to wipe down or rinse off sheets. Was I late to work the other day? No. Why? Because of parchment paper. Thank you parchment paper.

Lately, I've been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, every morning over the past week. EVERY morning. I was looking at the jar of PB I had, then was sparked to try make a delicious, creamy PB cookie. I usually go to Baking Bites for all my sweet cravings, but I couldn't find an interesting recipes. So I turned to All Recipes, where I found an amazing PB cookie find. Though I had to tweak it a little, some ingredients didn't make sense to me, but then again, what does? I was actually somewhat disappointed with myself when I took these out of the oven. For some reason, I decided to hide chocolate chips in some of the cookies while I was spooning on to the sheet. And because of that, I had to play with my luck and hope that I grabbed the chocolate filled ones. Out of 6, I found 1. Again, disappointed.

This cookie isn't like average PB cookies. Definitely not crunchy or flat like the old-fashioned ones. I made them with creamy PB and used a cookie scoop to get a nice thickness. They don't spread out a whole lot, so you can pack them on to your sheet. Oh, and a cup of milk IS required. These things are packed with tons of peanut butter flavor. If that's not how you roll, you can cut out the 1/4 cup. I halved the recipe here because I didn't have enough flour, but I managed to get 2 1/2 dozen using my little cookie scoop.

Soft Creamy Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, sift (or whisk, or whatever you prefer) flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
Cream together butter and peanut butter. Add both sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add vanilla.
Add dry ingredients to wet, in two rotations. Refrigerate batter for 1 hour. This will make the cookie thick, though you don't have to if you can't wait. I surely didn't.
Scoop 1 tbsp balls on to lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, depending on your oven. I went to 11-12 minutes, waiting till the sides browned up a bit.