Saturday, March 31, 2007


I've been seeing a lot of my friends (old and new) lately, so I decided yesterday that I would throw a little get-together BBQ. I'm pretty excited since it's going to be the first "party" I have without the help of my parents. I already invited about 10 of my friends and I think today, we decided that we would all bring somekind of different BBQ...Carne Asada, Burgers, Steak, etc. And me, well, I plan on making a rich cheesecake topped with blueberries and some strawberry shortcake. Yum! I hope those fruits are in season already, because I'm going to need a lot!

I'm so excited!

By the way, sorry I haven't posted in a while, nothing much has been going on that I can write about. Oh wait, on Thursday, I went to Chinatown, and I found a little Donut Kit for like $8. The recipes are horrible, but I think the donut shaped pans are pretty cool. I can apply it somehow.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


It's so late now, so I'm going to make this entry short. (I was out having a fun conversation my friend, Sebastian, and his old friend Dan plus my boyfriend...very nice guys)

My mom and I LOVE this pastry from a local bakery (which now distributes to Gelsons Supermarkets in the area (or beyond, I'm not sure) called Alligator. I've made a few reicpes that call for maple syrup and when baked, it conjured up all kinds of memories of the delicious pastry which is now a bit expensive at $15 for a small sheet. So I found a recipe for Maple Pecan Squares in my handy Williams-Sonoma Baking book, but I overcooked it a little and aside from that, it still didn't have that Alligator taste (not real aligator, the pastry kind!). We read the ingredients on the box of the pastry and saw that they used some peaches in there and when my mom went to the market yesterday, she picked up some dried (kind of looks like those fruit jelly rolls you take to school) apricot to try to substitute for the peaches, used some baking dates and reduced the brown worked! Next time, I think we'll put less filling and use a flakier crust, but until then, it's good enough for me!

I'll take pictures next time and post the recipe. It's late and I need sleep! Good Night!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bagels Continued...

So the bagels I wasn't feeling so hot about yesterday actually turned out pretty good! Next time, I think I'll know what to expect so I won't worry or whatever about them. I might try some flavors next time I make them, like cinnamon and raisin, or blueberry. For now, poppy seeds were all I had, so that's all I made. It took me about 3 hours. First, you dissolve and wake up the yeast, mix in all the ingredients, let it rise for about 1 hour, shape them, and let it rest for another 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, you boil them in a pot (next time I'm going to use a wider pot rather than a deeper one, the bagels float!), and bake for about 20-30 minutes. Then you enjoy!

Boiling the Bagels

All pretty and ready to eat after baking!

If you'd like the recipe, then you'll have to wait until I can actually post it because I have to go to work in about 15 minutes. Or you can just email me at

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I'm currently in the process of making bagels. So far, I'm not sure how they're going to turn out. The dough is really tough, but I was a little unsure of their results from the beginning. My yeast wasn't bubbling like it was supposed to. Oh well. Practice makes perfect, unless these turn out perfect...which I doubt. I'll know the results in about 2 hours. Still waiting for it to rise, then I've got the baking time and all that fun stuff.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Finally Found It!

I finally found Season 2 of the Golden Girls. I'm already about 6 episodes into the season. I love that show.

Some Overdue Photos

The First Bread I made...Challah. A bit long and uneven, but delicious! It was about 2 feet!

Second attempt. Instead of making one big loaf, I made two smaller ones. One got a little more burned though...Both still tasted great.

A better picture of the Cranberry-Apricot Scones I made.

Sorry, I haven't taken a picture of the duct tape wallet yet because everyone's been taking them home! I don't have a chance to take some pictures, but I'll probably make another one tomorrow or something.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Ahh, the joys of adulthood. The DMV sent me a letter stating that it was that time of the year--Renew my car registration! Yipee. Oh well. I'm a bit of a procrastinator, so I did it today (about two weeks before the day it's due--they sent it to me about a month ago). Only this time, instead of paying the $55 (which is fine with me...) I had to take my baby to a test only station for a smog check. With the help of my boyfriend's parents, I found a little place with nice people and yay! My car passed. =)

Anyway, when I got to the dreaded DMV, my clerk was actually really nice. She smiled and laughed at me when my boyfriend had to point out that I was giving the lady all my tip money (I just gave her $15 in dollar bills, at least it wasn't the whole $55!). She told us about how the lady that collects the money in the back HATES coins, so everyone has to try to get rid of the coins "customers" (what would you call them?) away to other customers. Unfortunately, that lady got one DMV patron that gave her like $50 in coins or some large amount. Poor girl.

OK so that's not the point of this blog. Unless you're interested in my daily life. So out of all of this, I got a few tips! As you can see, those little registration stickers are pretty expensive (I paid $50 for the smog check and another $55 for the registration), so a lot of desperate and lazy people steal them.

Protecting your Car Registration Sticker

1) Clean and dry the license plate to ensure the sticker will, well, actually stick.
2) Remove the sticker from its backing and stick it to the designated area
3) With a blade, run it diagonally along the sticker in about 10 even strokes. Then repeat the opposite way making small diamonds
4) With the super glue, "laminate" the sticker by generously applying it over the sticker.
5) Allow to dry, stand back and admire your work.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Duct Tape Wallet

I went to a restaurant supply warehouse a few weeks ago and I saw some brightly colored duct tape. So I bought a few of the colors: brown, blue, and pink (yea, I can't believe they had pink duct tape either...). I was pretty bored at work today, so I decided to make a duct tape wallet. The first one was the ugliest and biggest wallet I had ever seen. The second looked much better but was too hard to bend, and the third one came out just right. I'm too lazy and sleepy right now to post pictures and instructions, but I will do it at least next week. =) Anyway, good night!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Busy Busy

I haven't really had time this week to bake at all. That sounded like I was doing something productive, but really, I was out enjoying the great weather. I went to the beach on Monday (it's been a few months since I've been there!). I'm so happy that they cleaned the water at Santa Monica, it's actually blue again! My boyfriend got a little bit of a sunburn, but I think he's ok. I haven't heard about it since that day.

Then we played basketball with my cousin the same day...or at least we tried. It's been so long since we've played, we're all terrible. (That's my excuse, but the truth is that I was never good) If there was a net BEHIND the board, I think we would have all scored a lot of points! Still fun though and it felt good getting a little bit of exercise.

I planned on baking on Tuesday, but I had to end up working. Boo. Oh well. I think I might be able to squeeze in two quick breads tomorrow. Banana Nut Bread and some Blueberry Muffins. Yay! Then I might have lunch with a high school friend and after, pick up my cousins from school, hang out at the arcade for a little while and then maybe play some more basketball? I hope that this whole "exercise" thing keeps up. It feels good.

Oh yea, I forgot to tell you that I painted a little mural on my boyfriend's wall today. Just a tiny one. I'll try to take a picture next time I'm there. Of course, it had cupcakes in it so naturally, I loved it. I would really love a cupcake right now....

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lost Entry

It's Saturday and I haven't written since Wednesday... I'm sorry. But I did write an entry last night but right when I was about to publish it, one technical difficulty after another occured so my entry was lost. =[ And now that I'm trying to recall the contents of it, I can't remember what it was about.

Anyway, I've been so inspired to bake since I got a new Williams-Sonoma book. (Essentials of Baking: Recipes and Techiniques for Successful Home Baking) I'm hoping to try some pie recipes and maybe some bagels!

It's about 11:30 right now but with the near approaching Daylight Savings Time, it's really like 12:30 so I must retire for the night. Good night fellow crafters, I'll see you another day in what seems like a new time zone!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Photo 56
Originally uploaded by succeedingmartha.
I went to my baking class today, but all we made was chocolate cake which would normally be fun, but I've made so much chocolate cake (or any cake) in the past few months that I was just bored. When I came home today, I had a little urge to bake so I consulted my new handy Williams-Sonoma Bread Book. When my sister bought me their cake book, she made a good point: if you can find at least one good recipe in there, it's worth it. So far, I've found two!

This is a quick bread which is exactly as the name implies, it means that it's a faster bread to make since it doesn't contain yeast (which requires hours of rising and kneading). Scones are a perfect first bread to start out on because you get to handle dough, they only require about an hour (depending on how fast--or slow you work) and they taste great!

I had all of the ingredients except for the dried fruit, and those were a little expensive, so in the cost, I didn't include the flour, sugar, and all that good stuff since many kitchens already have them.

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Time Required: About an hour
Approximate Cost: $6
Yield: 12 medium sized scones

3 cups (15 oz) All-Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder (preferrably sifted)
1/2 tsp Baking Soda (preferrably sifted)
1/2 tsp Salt
Grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 Tbsp)
10 Tbsp (5 oz) Cold Unsalted Butter cut into small pieces
1 cup Cold Buttermilk (or 7 1/2 oz of milk and 1/2 oz of white vinegar)
3/4 cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 cup Chopped Dried Apricots

Equipment Needed
Pastry Blender or 2 Knives
Large Bowl
Sheet Pan lined with Parchment
Rubber Scrapper
Cooling Racks (optional, but recommended)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

1) In a large bowl, combine All Purpose Flour, Granulated Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, and Orange Zest. Mix with whisk or gently with your hand.
2) With a Pastry Blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the dry mixture until it looks like course crumbs.
3) With your hand, create a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk.
4) With your hand or pastry blender if you like, begin to incorporate the buttermilk into the butter and dry ingredient mixture until a dough forms. (Don't worry if you haven't gotten all the little crumbs in, you will incorporate them further when you knead the dough)
5) Stir in the cranberries and apricots just until it is evenly distributed.
6) On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough no more than 8-10x. Then pat the dough into a rectangle with floured hands so that it is about 1 1/2" thick. Then fold it like a business letter and cut the dough in half.
7) Round the two doughs and cut into 6 wedges.
8) Arrange the 12 pieces onto the prepared sheet pan and bake for about 15 minutes or until it is a golden brown.
9) Cool scones on racks if you have them.
10) Then eat! (I stole that step from my boyfriend...he wrote it on his procedures and I loved it...)

It says in the book to serve it warm with some butter, I ate it warm without the butter and I still loved it. I've had cold scones before too and they also taste great.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Little Inspiration

It was such a beautiful day today, I had to spend the day outside. So I left the house around 10:00 and went to Chinatown with my boyfriend to endulge in some dim sum. Yum! Then we decided to soak in some of the beautiful sun by walking around Chinatown. There's something about the atmosphere there that feels so carefree and...happy. Many of the stores along there are more vibrant and colorful now, so I was totally inspired to make some craft projects. There were so many things I saw, my mind is still bubbling with ideas. When I actually start and finish something, I'll make sure to take lots of pictures and write about it, so you can look forward to it in the coming weeks.

I hope you all got your plants for Adopt a Plant Month. I got my cousins a bonsai...maybe it'll interest them more than a simple (but beautiful) flower pot. I hope they don't kill it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Good Read

We weren't terribly busy on Sunday, so I actually had time to start and finish Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. It's an interesting and pretty educating read. Throughout the book, Snicket uses "big" words (I'll admit that I didn't know what a few of them meant) but then gives a definition and even the occasional sample sentence. Aside from being useful, it's a really fun story and now that I think about it, I can't believe that I forgot to pick up book 2 from my cousin. I recommend reading this book and if you feel like splurging a little, buy the set. I bought it for my cousin for Christmas with my boyfriend's help and she got so excited over it. =D Nice to see kids (or really anyone now a days) getting excited over education. So treat your friends, family, and secretly--yourself to a fun filled adventure accompanied by some very smart, inventive, and charming protagonists as well as the classic love to hate villans.

Friday, March 2, 2007


My mom gave some of the bread we baked yesterday to her employees and I think everyone genuinely liked it. Ben, my mom's right hand man said his wife wants to order some the next time we make it! Yes! I made about $3 lol. But I'm more concerned about the taste than the money. My boyfriend told me that last night, he made a sandwich for himself with the braided bread and he said it tasted SUPER good because it was so soft and moist. Yay! =] I think we both feel accomplished.

I'm still working on the pictures and posting the recipe. Ok I lied a little. I haven't even touched it, but I've been working all day so how could I? I need to make money so I can pay for ingredients and all that good stuff to keep you all at home happy.

By the way, it's March 2 which means it's Adopt a Plant Month. Hope you've at least thought about adopting your little green pet.

Plant Tip: Buy cheap plants! They usually require very little care and water, and they still look beautiful. -Sent in by Regina from Boston. (fine, that was my sister, but she's still a person with a tip!)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Busy Bee

Today I woke up at about 7 or 8, went grocery shopping for some recipes I have been itching to try for the past week. I made the ensaimadas again (honestly, I liked them better the first time...but maybe 3rd time's the charm!), with the same dough, I made cinnamon rolls, and I tried a recipe from my new Williams-Sonoma Bread book.

For the cinnamon rolls, I made a streusel for the filling also found in the Williams-Sonoma book. It's a simple mixture of brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, flour, and some cold butter. Instead of making small balls out of the ensaimada dough, I made one big one and when it was time to roll it out, I rolled it to be a big square (or something that resembled that shape) and sprinkled the cinnamon streusel evenly on the dough, leaving about a 3/4"-1" border. Then I rolled it like a jelly roll and sliced about 1" rolls horizontally. Next time I make it, I'm going to use more dough and maybe a little less of the streusel. The good thing is that the streusel is delicious--in certain quantities.

The new bread recipe I tried today is called Challah which is a Jewish egg bread. Yum. I was especially attracted to it because it was braided and well, the ingredient list was short. If you ever have to braid a dough, make sure that the strands you roll are even or if you want it to have a little bit more of a diamond shape, leave it a little heavy in the middle. My boyfriend and I weren't really thinking and just rolled it a little sloppy. Instead of the diamond shape I was hoping more, we got an hourglass shape. LOL. But it was still beautiful and what's more important is that it tasted great! It was pretty moist and so soft! After baking it ended up being what looked like 2 feet! That's a big bread.

After I stopped by to help my mom a little at work, I came back home and made a little craft project that I had been planning for a few weeks now...but never got around to actually doing it. I'm going to try to post something of a tutorial since I really didn't know what I was doing going through it. I really just improvised my way through this one, but I'm happy with the results. I'm sure you'll have an easier time making this because for some reason, I'm terrible with making patterns.

Anyway, I found a way to repurpose those plastic party cups that are always left behind at parties, some scrap fabric, an old pillow, some pom poms you might have lying know, normal things. =]

Zero Calorie Recycled Cupcake
Photo 51 Photo 52

Skill Level: Intermediate
Total Approximate Cost: $9.00
Total Approximate Time: 1 - 2 hours

Plastic disposible party cups (I used the shorter, wider variety) - $0 if you have them. About $2 if you don't.
Felt - (Approximately three colors, depending on your design. You may want to get two sheets of each color just in case) $0.20 each
Thread in matching colors - Approximately $0.99 a spool, unless you have some
Red Pom Pom - Variety pack for $2.99
Green Embroidery Floss - $1.29
Flexible but Sturdy Cardboard - $0 I got mine from the bottom of a shopping bag
Adhesive (I used spray adhesive but it is a bit more expensive, so any glue is great, but Elmer's gets messy) - About $10 for Spray Adhesive (worth it!) and $1 for white glue
Some old newspapers or something to protect your workspace from getting sticky.
Old pillow or something you can use as stuffing.

Sewing Needles $2.19

1) Make a pattern for the felt that will cover the exterior of your cup and cut it out.
2) Paste the felt you just cut out to the outside of the cup. (If you're using spray adhesive, make sure you cover your workspace just incase it sprays a little too far.)
3) With the color of your cake (the brown part, since I chose chocolate), cut a circle slightly bigger than the opening of your cup. Make a cardboard cutout the same shape and glue it to the felt.
4) Then cut a 1/4" strip of the same color the circumference of the circle you just cut out. Glue a strip of the cardboard to the strip.
5) When it is dry, sew the strip of felt and cardboard to the circle.
6) Cut a large circle of the same color (this will be the height of your cupcake) and sew it to the side of the strip that hasn't been sewn yet. (it's not going to be a perfect circle in the end. You'll have to cut about 3/4 way to the center and overlap it to make the circle fit the one you're sewing to. Wow that sounded confusing, I'm sorry it's late.) Before closing the circle, stuff the cake with the inside of a pillow.
7) Now for the topping, cut out a random design to be the frosting (although it looks more like a ganache or glaze). Find the center of the cupcake and your frosting. Going through both the cake and frosting with the embroidery floss, attach the red pom pom. Secure it a few times, tie a knot, and leave about 1 1/4" of the floss sticking up, this is the cherry stem.
8) Sew or glue the frosting to the cake. You're done! Now you can hide fun things in your cupcake or just use it as decoration. Who knew cake could be so functional?

I'll post some pictures of the Challah and the recipe when I have more time. I'm already dozing off...