Smoothies!

4 Feb

I noticed that I gain about 3-5 pounds throughout winter every year. It’s cold outside and despite my busy schedule, I still eat constantly and often don’t have the motivation or energy to work out like I do during other seasons of the year. Even when I do work out, I don’t see the results in terms of losing weight. It’s a struggle.

Another problem I’ve been encountering is that I don’t eat enough veggies. This is an all-year round problem.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make smoothies to lose a few pounds, and also to enhance my veggie intake. It’s not extreme. I make a green smoothie for breakfast and have it throughout the morning to keep myself full, I may occasionally have an additional smoothie at night or in the late afternoon when I am hungry for a snack. I have been consuming so much veggies and with working out, I have lost a few pounds!

The smoothie experience has been positive. I go to the local farm/grocery store and buy any veggies/fruit they have, preferably organic. I also bought ground flaxseed to add in extra fiber (be careful though, they add extra calories if you put in too much!). Blend with some almond milk, add a little agave nectar extra sweetness, and the smoothie is done! Veggies that I like to buy are- kale, spinach, mache, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers. In addition, I sometimes also add in frozen blueberries, banana, orange, or whatever fruit I have on hand. The fruits add sweetness so the smoothies are extra yummy!  I even add a few leaves of mint or parsley in the smoothies sometimes to brighten up the taste a bit.

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There really isn’t a recipe for these smoothies. The only problem I can envision people have is getting used to drinking the veggie smoothies. Someone I worked with said to me the other day, “it smells like a garden…” and I thought it was so funny because I absolutely have no problem consuming the green smoothie, but it may be something to get used to for other people who don’t like vegetables.

If you are one of those people who don’t like the smell of vegetables, you can certainly put a scoop of peanut butter or cocoa powder in your smoothie to get a creamier taste. Or if you want to go all fruit, they can’t go wrong either, you can still get good nutrition from an all-natural smoothie.

You see, I am not a nutritionist. I don’t fully know what makes a green smoothie good in terms of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, etc. All I know is that veggies are good for my body, and I feel great after drinking the smoothies. That’s enough for me! I hope to keep this good habit up for a while. You should try it too!

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Food Adventure in Miami

16 Jan

It’s been cold in the Northeast, and I was lucky enough to have a little get away to the warm and sunny Miami. I love Miami. I love the ocean, the people, the music, and the food. Especially the food. Everything I tasted was borderline amazing and beyond.  Pubbelly, my new favorite restaurant absolutely blew me away. The Asian fusion food that they create is delicate but comforting. Michael’s Genuine lives up to the hype in the Design District, had the best pasta dish I’ve had in a very long time. Oh, and Yardbird, amazing Southern cuisine. Fried chicken was HOT and juicy. Oh, did I mention I saw the famous Tom Colicchio at Yardbird? Yes, I saw Tom Colicchio at Yardbird. Enjoy my pictures. I am drooling already.

Peking Duck House- Chinatown, NYC

11 Jan

I have always wanted to visit Peking Duck House since my cousin raved about it all the time. Though I am of Chinese decent, I have probably only had Peking duck once, maybe twice, when I was little. My mom wasn’t a big fan of it since it is not all that healthy- fat, oily, but delicious!

Anyway, I finally made a trip to the Peking Duck House in Chinatown the other day. What a surprise for me it was. I am so used to the dirtier, dingier (but delicious) places in Chinatown, I definitely didn’t see this fancier, trying-to-be-upscale restaurant in the heart of Chinatown.

Of course, for the three of us, we ordered one duck. The head chef came to the table with a roasted duck and sliced it in front of us.

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Then we have a plate of juicy, greasy, delicious smelling duck meat, WITH SKIN!

IMG_5980Here we have a bowl of Hoisin sauce.

IMG_5976A plate of sliced scallions and cucumber to refresh the wraps!

IMG_5978And the wraps itself.

IMG_5979And this is how you assemble your Peking duck- Hoisin sauce on the bottom, duck meat, then greens.

IMG_5981And we wrap it together. Ta-Da!IMG_5982Since I am not a Peking duck connoisseur, this Peking duck to me was DELICIOUS! The duck is tender, hoisin sauce adds a nice sweetness and a little tang to it, cucumber is refreshing, and the scallions add a layer of depth to the “sandwich”. It was so good! One thing I will say is that it can get overwhelmingly greasy after a certain point. This is when moderation is key. Unless you love grease. Then you should probably watch your cholesterols because eating like this can be dangerous to your health!

Sorry, I got carried away. Anyway, there are a few locations for Peking Duck House in New York City, If you are in town and am feeling it, I would definitely recommend it!

Please let me know if you also have suggestions of other Peking duck places! I would love to try more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Fancy) S’mores

30 Dec

I love making treats for people around me. I am not an affectionate person, so making and giving treats is really my way of showing my appreciation for the people around me. For the holidays, I decided to make these cute S’mores that I discovered from Pinterest.

They were incredibly easy and fast to make, if you were to make a small batch. However, I literally made over four dozens of these treats. Needless to say they took me a couple of hours. Other than making them as holiday gifts, they are also great for host gifts, party favors, etc.

To make 12 S’mores sandwiches:

24 squares of graham crackers

1.55 oz Hershey bar, break up into squares

12 large marshmallows

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay graham crackers onto baking sheet, top half with 2 squares of chocolate, and half with large marshmallows.

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2. Bake in the oven for about 4 minutes, until marshmallows start turning brown. Take out the sheet and sandwich together two crackers, one with chocolate and one with marshmallow.

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3. Pop these sandwiches into the freezer for at least 5 minutes to harden and cool down. In the mean time, melt chocolate chip with double boiler or in microwave.

4. Take out the sandwiches from the freezer and dip one side with melted chocolate. Add sprinkles, and lay to let cool.

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5. Once the sandwiches are cooled, place them in small plastic bags, attach a card, and they are ready to  be delivered!

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How cute! Try them next time on your own!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes

18 Dec

I have been addicted to Pinterest. Not a habit I am proud of as it consumes a lot of my time. The upside of my addiction is that I have discovered a lot of good stuff. Yummy and crafty new projects are awaiting me over my winter break and I am so excited for them!

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I discovered this awesome pumpkin cupcakes recipe through Pinterest, and had to make these treats immediately! I took it to a party and got such positive reviews for them!

Makes about 20 cupckaes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a pan. Low and slow until butter is browned.

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2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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3. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, mix together cooled butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and pumpkin puree. After the mixture is combined, add in the dry ingredients.

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IMG_59384. Line muffin cups into muffin tins. Pour batter evenly into the tins about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes.

Cinnamon Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and beat in 1 cup of confectioners sugar at a time. Beat in cinnamon and vanilla extract until mixture is smooth.

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Enjoy!

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Snicker-doodle & Chocolate Chips Cookies

14 Dec

I had a sudden urge to bake cookies the other day. The kind of cookies that makes your whole house smell warm and fuzzy, the kind that makes you miss your friends and family, the kind that makes you look forward to the holiday season.

Well, I didn’t have many ingredients on hand, but I did to whip up some cinnamon sugar cookies with what I had, and they did the job. You cannot beat the smell of warm cinnamon sugar cookies, or their official term, snicker-doodle cookies. My house smelled good, I started to miss my friends, and I am beyond excited for the holiday season.

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For these batch of cookies, I adapted this recipe from howsweeteats.comThey were crispy on the outside, cakey on the inside. The sweetness from granulated sugar and the warmth from cinnamon and the surprise factor of chocolate chips just make the cookies irresistible. They are best eaten warm. With a cup of tea or milk. Your choice.

Makes about 20 cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoon milk

1/2 cup chocolate chips

4 tablespoon granulated sugar and 2 teaspoon cinnamon for coating

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Then beat in egg and vanilla extract.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients with wet, until dough comes together.

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. With the top covered.

6. Roll the dough into one tablespoon size, roll in the sugar/cinnamon mix and press down to about 1/4 inch and place on baking sheet.

7. Bake for about 8-10 minutes.

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Nutella Banana Brioche Bread Pudding

5 Dec

photo

This, is the only picture I have.

I am sorry.

I was in such a hurry when I made it that I only took a picture with my phone. On Instagram.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make it though. Because you are going to love this scrumptious dish. For breakfast, for brunch, for dessert. Hell, you can even eat this for lunch and dinner. Make sure you refrain yourself because you might indulge in a lot of pieces. Then you wouldn’t feel too good about it afterwards. I am sorry.

This Nutella banana brioche bread pudding will make you very happy about life. It will make you forget all the sorrow from your past and make you think everything will be a-okay in the future. Cloudy, sweet, creamy, custardy, warm. It’s the best day-after holiday brunch.

I must say, though, that the budget can be a bit high when you add things up. Between the egg challah($6), bottle of hazelnut liqueur($20), cream, whole milk, 8 eggs. You might have to be mentally prepared yourself to spend a bit with this dish. But it will be worth it. You will make your family very happy on Christmas day, indulging this goodness while opening presents in the morning.

So, what more can I say? Just make it. The recipe is here.

Liv Hambrett

An Australian Writer in (North) Germany

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