Monday, March 15, 2010

Homemade Pasta

Homemade pasta

I don't know why we never made fresh pasta before. Okay, we had one of those as-seen-on-the-tv thing that you dump everything in and flip a switch to push the pasta out of little holes. Easy? Absolutely. But it's missing that chewy, toothsome feel without properly developing the gluten in the dough. My parents happens to have a regular pasta machine that they probably used once in the 20+ years that they got it. (I'm not kidding, the price tag said it's from BEST. Who still remember that store???) Chris finally gave it a go this past weekend and it was almost as quick to make as that other machine. I tossed the freshly cooked pasta with some bacon, artichoke hearts, and lots of garlic. Yum! Can't wait to make it again.

Homemade pasta

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicken and waffle

Blue Bottle Coffee & Little Skillet

Chris told me that there's a little, tiny place in the SOMA area that sells chicken and waffle. He had it for lunch on time and thinks that I should check it out. We had planned on going to the Timbuk2 warehouse sale this morning until we saw the line wrapped around the corner. There is no way we could wait in that line with a 3 years old. So he decided that we'll go grab food before heading back. There's also a Blue Bottle Coffee next door. My standard for good coffee is this, if I don't need to add sugar, it's good. I got one while I wait for my 3 piece chicken and waffle. (There is no sittings unless you want to sit across the street on the loading dock of the building.) It's a little pricey at $10, but enough food for me to share with Miss T.

3 pieces chicken with waffle

I also had to get a brown sugar black pepper biscuit. I wish the biscuit was warm, but the sugar/back pepper topping was delicious. If I ever make biscuit, I will definitely copy that.

Brown sugar & black pepper biscuit

The final verdict? The chicken was better than the waffle. I probably won't go out of my way to get it again unless I really have a craving for chicken and waffle. A very cute little place though.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Bag

Jill e bag

I finally upgraded my Nikon D70 to a Nikon D300s! I'm so excited about my new toy that I went and got a new camera bag to go along with it. (Cause I haven't spend enough money this week already.) I have other bags around the house of course, from a big backpack to a small one that will just hold the camera itself. The biggest problem is that I always have to carry around my purse separately. Actually, up until late last year, I was carrying around a diaper bag like this one for 2 and a half year:



I was browsing the web and found a tote like camera bag that is more of a purse/camera bag combo that I liked. After I showed Chris, he suggested that I take a look at the Jill e bags. I guess at some point he considered getting me one before. I ended up ordering one that night and it got here today.

Their web site actually shows you different ways to use the bag, from camera bag to a diaper bag. (So essentially, I went from one diaper bag to another one?) It comes with a few dividers so you can customize the layout. I have it set up like this so far for the normal weekend:

Jill E bag

It holds my really big wallet and insanely big sunglasses case. The empty spot is where the camera will go. There's room for snacks for a 3 years old. This little pouch that came with will hold the random stuff like lip gloss and hand sanitizer. It is quite heavy though, but that have more to do with my camera than anything else. Can't wait to actually use it and play with my camera this weekend.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes!!

ice cream cone cupcakes

I made a total of six dozen birthday cupcakes the past couple of weeks. Four of them were for Miss T and another couple more for Sara. You would have thought with all the practice I would have find a recipe to be my stand by at this point. But nope, it is still a work in progress. I stuck with a basic vanilla cake base and a few different kinds of frosting. The first ones I made were these, cupcakes baked in ice cream cones. Chris suggested it and I have to agree that it was quite popular with her friends at the daycare.

When I was thinking about how to proceed, I did a few quick searches on the Internet to see if I could find any pointers. Many mentioned the top heavy issue, being that the top part have more cake. I thought I'll try putting in some white chocolate chips at the bottom of the cones to give it some weight.

ice cream cone cupcakes

For the cake, I used a butter cake recipe from the Baker's Dozen Cookbook. Filled the cones with the batter almost to the top. They stand pretty well without any help on the cookie sheet, but I still wouldn't fill them too far to the oven though.

ice cream cone cupcakes

I baked them for about half an hour or so, check with a long toothpick. The cakes created a nice dome on top after they are baked even with a few cracks.

ice cream cone cupcakes

Since I was bringing these to daycare for a bunch of 2-3 years old, I didn't want to use any raw eggs in the frosting/buttercream. I ended up using the Vanilla buttercream recipe from More from Magnolia cookbook. It consist of only powdered sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla extract.

I made these the night before and decided to frost them right before I bring them to daycare the next day so the buttercream won't develop a hard skin. I packed most of the buttercream up in a pipping bag and tied it shut. Just leave on the counter overnight, it will harden if refrigerated. I left a little frosting out and frosted about half dozen to bring to work with me in the morning since I ended up with about 32 cupcakes when I only needed 24 to bring in daycare the next day. Of course I have to do a little taste test as well with Miss T.

ice cream cone cupcakes v1

So as you can see, the white chocolate chips didn't melt the way I imagine them to at the bottom and actually caramelized quite a bit after baking. The butter cake was tasty, but I think a little too dense for cupcakes. The frosting is too sweet for me, but I think will be fine with the 3 years old. To transport the cupcakes, I wrapped an empty multi-pak yogurt box (any large box will do) to make it more festive and cut crosses on top so the cupcake will stay in place. The idea came from a picture I found on the internet where someone did the same to a pizza box. To make it more challenging for me, it was pouring down rain when I had to leave. I wrapped a large plastic bag over and made it to daycare with all the cupcakes in tact. About half of the kids ate the cake as well, the other half just licked the frosting off. Exactly what I expected a 3 years old would do and I definitely enjoyed watching all the kids enjoy their afternoon snack.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

For whatever reason, we have waited to take Miss T up to Tahoe to see/play snow. Chris haven't been up snowboarding as much as he would have like to the last few years since I think he feels guilty to leave us on weekends instead of hanging out with us. After doing some research, Chris found that Northstar have ski school starting at 3. So, off we go to Tahoe the day after she turns 3!

We left about mid-morning/lunch time on Sunday and planned on leaving on Tuesday after ski school is over. By the time we got there, it was about 3 in the afternoon so we went straight to Northstar to check whether we need to get her fitted for the equipments. She was so excited to finally play with snow! It was quite difficult to walk about when she stops at every little pile on the side of the walkway to touch it.

Playing with snow

We stayed at a lodge with full kitchen since we both got to the point where we rather eat in then out. (Yikes! We've turned into our parents!!) The lodge was really nice and had access in the back to the lake. Miss T and I went out for a little walk and she even allowed me to take some pictures of her. I didn't get a chance to take any on her birthday this year due to the party so I just had to take her birthday pictures at the lake. I think I got a few nice shots. A little more playing in the snow and we went back to get settle in for the night in preparation for the next day.

3 years old

Miss T and I both have ski school on Monday. I gave up on the whole snowboarding thing so I figure I'll give skiing a shot. We dropped her off with no issues. I think the fact that she goes to daycare everyday really helped. All I can say about my lesson is that I was better than snowboarding, but that's really not saying much. I also started to get sick after about an hour into my lesson so I had to cut it short. Will I try again? I don't know, despite the fact that I like it more I'm not sure I still like it. I'm just not an active/sport person I guess. Chris and I were actually wondering whether the poor girl would get my athletic skill (or lack there of). She only got about 2 hours of actual skiing time, attention span of a 3 year old is not exactly long after all. We went to see her and were relieved that luckily she has Chris's athletic ability rather than mine.

Snow piggy

The second day started off with light snow and got heavier as the day went. Miss T actually leveled up and skiing mid-mountain instead. By then I was hit with the flu and no way am I doing anything. So in order to go see her, I had to get a ticket to ride the gondola to get there. She looks so small on the hill. Despite the heavy snow at times, she still goes on that magic carpet after sliding down every time. Her usual bad attitude when trying new things were no where to be seen. In fact, she didn't even get frustrated after she fell. (Another thing she didn't get from me!) I'm so proud of her.

Skiing Talise

She's talking about going back already. I think the snow will stay around for a little while longer so that may happen again soon.