An Update?

It has been, well, more than a good while since I’ve been back here. I’ve missed it! But like other hiatuses in the past, work/school/life/etc happens and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So here’s a little update on what’s been going on this summer…

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I made eclairs for the first time ever using a recipe from Ladurée. And for once I actually liked the pastry cream I made!

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We recently added pointe shoes to our repertoire at Benicia Dancewear and I can now say I have put pointe snaps no-sews on more pointe shoes than I can count.

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Tropical Blondies are the epitome of an island summer. Coconut, Key Lime, White Chocolate, & Macadamia Nuts.

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During a cool week, I made one of my Fall staples – Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Bread. It’s pretty much the best combo of yeasty, doughy, cinnamon-sugar-ness.

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Mogget. And yes, she did put herself between the window and the window screen in order to hunt a bug.

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Boursin Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Chicken (recipe from Chrissy Teigen of So Delushious)
MAKE IT. Your tastebuds will thank you
Also, I added cream cheese to supplement the boursin. GREAT IDEA. DO IT.

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Serve with tomatoes (that were baked with the chicken) and sauteed spinach! Deliciousness.

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Savory Summer Cobbler of Cherry Tomatoes, Sauteed Onions, & Cheesy Biscuit Topping

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Bear #1 of Muir Woods

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Jimmy with Bear #2 of Muir Woods

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Bear #3 of Muir Woods (There was a squirrel hiding behind there)

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& Bear #4 of Muir Woods

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Muir Woods Hiking Trip with Jimmy!

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Pinky caught tripping out on catnip. BUSTED.

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Lovely flowers.

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Maggie the black streak. The newest addition to my grandparents’ household. It was actually a fluke that I snapped this picture of her staying still.

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Magnolia Bakery Style Peanut Butter Cookies (with milk chocolate chips & white chocolate chips – recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
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Adventures in Babysitting. AKA educating kiddos in the classics (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Secret of the Ooze).

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Flowers because Jimmy is secretly an expert bouquet arranger 🙂

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Pointe Shoe Dyeing Party!
Dyeing pointe shoes purple & red for different characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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Some of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland principal cast! (Picture c/o Ligioso Ballet Studio)

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Two Year Anniversary Trip – Margaritas in Capitola

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Two Year Anniversary Trip – Jimmy being Jimmy

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Homemade Sriracha Salmon!
(Basically glaze salmon in a sriracha & brown sugar mix and bake at 375 degrees F till done; broil for crispy edges)

IMAG0407Favorite Summer Outfit for the cool but also warm weather that is brunch in SF. (And yes, that is a tutu. Dance & dancewear are pretty much everywhere in my life.)

So that is the short story of things going on right now.
Lots of good food, good company, & the work that I love :]

OH ALSO. I will be starting a new teaching job soon – middle school math. Wish me luck!

OH OH OH AND! I GOT AN INSTAGRAM. lol. Not really big news I know, but I have finally pushed aside my dislike for Instagram and am embracing it wholeheartedly. And by wholeheartedly, you know that means I’m just posting pictures of food and my pets as per usual. Teehee.
Instagram: @klerebear or find me here.

Between my jobs & school (two more semesters then I’m done!), I know that posts will continue to be sporadic over the next 6 – 8 months. BUT I promise to try to post at least 2-3 new recipes per month. And hey, with the autumn weather rolling in, you know I’ll be all over those pumpkin recipes. (Sidenote: Has anyone else noticed that Halloween candy & paraphernalia are popping up everywhere already?? It’s only July!)

Thanks for sticking with me 🙂

xx

-C

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A Cup of Tea & A Teatime Treat

I absolutely love tea and tea time treats. So with Mother’s Day right around the corner, which is clearly the perfect time for a tea party, this seems like a wonderful time to share one of my favorite tea time treats. Scottish Caramel Shortbread. It’s a buttery, melt in your mouth treat, with just a touch of sweetness from the gooey caramel which sits on top. I would pair this treat with a good cup of Scottish Breakfast or Irish Breakfast tea (with just a pinch of sugar and a splash of cream). This recipe actually comes directly from a Scottish Recipes cookbook my mom and I picked up whilst in Scotland a while back (super touristy factor – we bought it at some castle we were touring lol). It has all kinds of great recipes for traditional Scottish foods, like haggis. Yum. Okay not really, but there are a lot of other good recipes.

Anyway, I believe this Mother’s Day calls for a fancy tea time. Complete with delicious tea (see above), tea time treats such as the one below, & of course, a Downton Abbey marathon 🙂

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Buttery, melt in your mouth, delicious goodness.

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I adjusted the recipe a little bit and also eliminated the chocolate topping which is typically part of the standard for Scottish Caramel Shortbread (which is also called Millionaire’s Shortbread and can also be referred to as a Twix Bar – for that recipe, see here). I kind of feel like for this specific caramel recipe, the chocolate would have been overwhelming since the star here is really the butter flavor.

I should also note that this was probably the easiest shortbread/caramel concoction I’ve ever made.

Scottish Caramel Shortbread

Adapted from Traditional Scottish Recipes Cookbook

Shortbread

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1.5 sticks Butter, softened (I used salted)
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar (aka white sugar)

Caramel

1 can Condensed Milk (standard can is 14oz)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (I prefer dark brown sugar)
1/2 stick Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 9×13 glass baking dish with parchment paper.

For the shortbread: In a bowl, combine the flour and butter until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the sugar. Mix until combined. Pour this mixture into your prepared pan. Press evenly and firmly throughout the pan. It will be very much like breadcrumbs that just have a little moisture to them. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

For the caramel: Pour the condensed milk into a medium sized pot, add the butter and brown sugar. Heat on the stove over medium high heat. Stirring constantly (so it does not stick) to dissolve the brown sugar and melt the butter. Stir until it begins to simmer. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens (about ten minutes or so). Pour the caramel over your cooled shortbread base.

Place the whole thing in the fridge or freezer to set the caramel. Once everything has cooled, you will have a gooey, buttery, delicious treat. Cut into squares to serve.

Optional: Sprinkle sea salt on top of the caramel.

More Mother’s Day recipes to follow! What are your Mother’s Day plans?

xx

-C

 

Cookies Solve Everything

 

 

Sometimes you have those days where it seems like life is out to get you and everything is just incredibly overwhelming. Those days happen to us all, I know. The other day my youngest sister was experiencing this. So what do I do to help? Make a batch of cookies. Because just as the process of making the cookies is therapeutic, so is eating them. So on my lunch break from work, I rushed home and made the quickest batch of cookies I’ve ever made (25 minutes total including prep time, baking time, & delivery). Using the handful of milk chocolate chips I had left, a handful of peanut butter chips I had left, and a scoop of sweetened coconut flakes, I made “cheer up, life is actually great” cookies. And they did the trick. It’s true what they say, there’s nothing a batch of homemade cookies can’t fix :] So the next time you’re having a tough day or you know someone having a bad day, come back to this recipe and make yourself a batch of these chewy delights. I swear a smile will come to anyone who eats these.

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Buttery & melt in your mouth.IMAG0345

Golden deliciousness. (I feel like that’s the name of an apple, or did I make that up?)

IMAG0347Melty milk chocolate-y goodness. Guaranteed to cheer up any cloudy day!

Chocolate Chip, Coconut, & Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
(or as I now affectionately call them, Cheer Up Cookies)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (softened)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips (I really used somewhere between 3/4 cup and 1 cup because that’s what I had on hand, but upping it to 1 cup is certainly not going to hurt)
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl. Add eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat in the flour mixture into the bowl with your wet ingredients. Stir in milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes. Mix until well combined.

On your cookie sheet/baking sheet, drop rounds of the cookie dough. I form small balls of dough with my hands, but you can also use a teaspoon to do this.

Bake for 8 – 11 minutes, or until the edges are just about golden brown, and the cookies are “set”. Meaning they do not wiggle wobble when you’re moving the cookie sheet. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet, otherwise your cookies will still be too hot and may break as you remove them.

Place on a cookie rack to cool (and if you’re like me, you will also burn your tongue at this point as you insist on eating one that still piping hot from the oven – but we all know it’s worth it lol).

Chocolate chip cookies are always a great cheer up gift, but the surprising combo of milk chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut makes for an intriguing “my mouth can’t help but smile at this candy-like” combo.

On a different note, is everyone ready for St. Patrick’s Day? CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE! Ahhh I’m so excited. I have a slightly unhealthy love for corned beef and all its fatty goodness. Sigh, cannot wait. What are your plans for St. Patty’s Day?

xx

-C

Hello & Happy 1st Day of March!

Oh hey there! It’s been a while. No, I haven’t forgotten about you or about sharing delicious treats. But sometimes life happens. Sometimes you get sick for three weeks straight and refuse to do anything except sleep. Not that I was a pill to deal with these last few weeks or anything (Also, my sympathies to anyone who had this weird flu/cold thing going around the last month – it was terrible and I’m still fighting it). Anyway, the point of the matter is that I’m back, at least for today.

So while I was sick, I decided that I had to have peanut butter caramel corn. Why did I have to have that? Who knows. But I was insistent that I was going to make some and eat it while I watched Christopher’s Wheeldon’s Alice in Wonderland ballet on dvd (such a fun ballet to watch!). I searched for a few recipes but didn’t really like their ingredients so I basically just modified my mom’s regular caramel corn recipe.

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Peanut butter. Caramel. Popcorn. The best sweet salty snack.

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I may or may not have eaten this whole bowl. No, really, I swear I didn’t.

IMAG0317Okay fine. Maybe I did eat 3/4 of the bowl of this candy coated snack. It was just so good!

I know this seems more like an autumn time snack, but I think it’s delicious for whenever.

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Modified from my mother’s recipe (I don’t have exact measurements on any of this btw, it’s really more a lot of eyeballing than anything else)

On the popcorn, you can make some microwavable popcorn, then set it aside and make the caramel. Or you can airpop some kernels, or pop them in a large soup pot or dutch oven, or whatever you have. The choice is your’s on that. But if you’re popping your own, don’t forget a quick sprinkling of salt.

Now onto the caramel.

2/3 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons butter (or 1/2 a stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup peanut butter, chunky

In a large pot (large enough to hold all of your popcorn), combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla extract. Stir and bring to a boil. (Keep a close eye on this, you don’t want your sugar burning. Also take care not to burn yourself. Hot sugar is not the business.) Cook for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter. Pour your prepared popcorn into the pot, using a rubber spatula, stir to coat. Carefully stir until all of the popcorn is coated.

Allow to cool so that the candy coating will harden. (I have also seen recipes where you bake the popcorn on a baking sheet at 250 degrees F for about an hour – but I was too impatient for this, so I just let it harden for a few minutes then ate it. Do you have the patience to wait an hour for popcorn?? Seriously, who does that?)

Serve alongside a fun movie!

Also, since we’re talking fun things to have with movies. I’ve discovered my new favorite way to drink champagne. (What? You don’t drink champagne with movies? I see no reason as to why not.) 
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Frozen Berries. I saw this idea on Pinterest over a year ago and was like oh yea, that’s a good idea, I should do that. And then I just never did. But the other day my sister was given a bottle of champagne. So what do we do? Go buy precut frozen strawberries and put on episodes of Once Upon A Time. Yea, I’m still obsessing over that show. It’s so good! You should watch it.
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Strawberries fizzle and break apart in the champagne, giving you these nice little pieces of sweetness every now and then.

Simple Champagne Cocktail

1 bottle chilled champagne
1 bag frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc..)

In a champagne flute, place 4 – 5 small berries. Tilt the flute and pour champagne at an angle, taking care to not overflow the glass as the champagne will fizzle when it meets the berries.

If you wanted to be extra fancy, you could place all of the berries on a fancy skewer as seen here.

(Via Pinterest)

You could also be super fancy like Kris of Young Married Chic and rim your glasses in edible star glitter, as seen here.


(Via Young Married Chic)

Simple simple. Easy things for a movie party? Why yes, I think so. All that is missing is some gourmet homemade pizza or nachos, and some awesome movies. Oh the decisions. Audrey Hepburn night? Alfred Hitchcock night? Watching The Help & making a homemade chocolate pie to serve while watching the movie? Lol. I amuse myself. But yes, movie night with delicious easy treats. It should happen sooner rather than later, don’t you think?

Also, I can’t believe it’s already here but…Happy 1st Day of March! The start of the year flew by. But I’m excited as it’s time to look forward to springtime weather, Pi Day (PIE! 3/14!), St. Patrick’s Day, Easter & Easter dinner & Easter egg hunts!, and the start of bbq-ing season.

Happy Unofficial Start of Spring!

xx

-C

 

Monte Cristo Wrap

Ok guys, I have to tell you, sometimes I eat weird things. Yesterday I had this idea that I wanted to make a turkey wrap for lunch, and for some reason I decided that I wanted to put strawberry preserves in it. I know what you’re thinking – “strawberry? Really?” It’s really not that weird though, is it? It’s kind of like when I make leftover Thanksgiving wraps with turkey, cream cheese, stuffing, mustard, and cranberry sauce. Cranberry, strawberry, they’re pretty similar right? …yea okay…strawberry is not the same as cranberry at all. I know. But this combo just sounded so good. Savory and sweet.

It occurred to me a few hours later that this is actually pretty similar to a Monte Cristo Sandwich, which is served with powdered sugar and a side of jelly or preserves. Except this doesn’t involve French Toast or being fried with butter. So I guess I would consider this a “healthier” version of a Monte Cristo. Now don’t get me wrong, this still has cream cheese and cheese in it, so as far as truly being healthy, I doubt it falls in that category. But compared to a regular Monte Cristo, yes I would say it’s pretty healthy. Or maybe I’m just deluding myself. Who knows? All I know is I enjoyed this as a quick, easy, and filling lunch.

IMAG0308Layers of flavor.

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Ready to be wrapped and taken with me to work. In the corner is the BEST dijon mustard ever btw.

Monte Cristo Wrap

1 or 2 flour tortillas or whole wheat wraps (depending if you want one or two)
Cream Cheese
2 slices of Swiss or Gouda Cheese
Turkey lunch meat (or ham if you wish)
Dijon Mustard (I highly recommend Maille – usually available at Safeway)
Strawberry Preserves

Lay out your tortillas or wrap. Spread cream cheese across entire surface. Spread a layer of mustard on top of the cream cheese. Layer your slices of cheese in a vertical column. I like to tear the cheese into smaller strips to fit into a straight line. Dollop little spoons of the strawberry preserves (more or less, depending on what you want). Layer a few slices of turkey meat on top of that, again in a vertical column. Roll. And then either wrap up to take with you on the go or eat right there. (Note: these should be kept refrigerated due to the cream cheese, cheese, and turkey).

It’s not that weird, I swear! Try it before you knock it. Do you have any weird flavor combos that you enjoy? Tell me I’m not alone on this!

Cheers to the start of a productive week!

xx

-C

Weeknight Bolognese

Ina Garten says that everyone should have a recipe for a good red meat sauce in their reserves for those nights when you need to toss a quick yet hearty pasta together. The last couple of weeks have required a lot of quick meals so one night I decided to try out Ina’s Weeknight Bolognese. The results were delicious and by far the best meat sauce I’ve ever made. This is definitely being added to my repertoire of quick and easy meals – it’ll be a reprieve from all my oven roasted chicken and veggie meals lol. Anyway…sauce time!

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Simmering sauce. Mmm…

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Pasta topped with freshly grated parmesan :]

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Gah. I love pasta. I want to go eat this right now.

Weeknight Bolognese

Adapted from Ina Garten

2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon cayenne
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
1 1/4 cups red wine (I just used whatever was left in the fridge from a few nights previous)
1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound dry pasta (I used Garofalo Penne Zitoni Pasta)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil (approximately – in all honesty, I don’t really measure this, I eyeball it) over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic begins to brown. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the red pepper flakes, cayenne and garlic salt, cook for 1 more minute or until the meat is completely brown. Pour the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, and the teaspoon each of garlic salt, cayenne, and red pepper flakes (if you are not a fan of spiciness, you may want to skip this secondary adding of cayenne). Stir until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with additional grated Parmesan on the side. Or on top, if you’re me.

Makes excellent leftovers for lunch the next day. Just melt more cheese on top. 🙂

I served this with both garlic bread and regular french bread, as well as with steamed broccoli and caesar salad (which came from a package kit – don’t judge!).

I’m currently on this kick to make everything from Ina Garten’s cookbook “How Easy is That?”,  so you may be seeing more of Ina’s recipes in the near future. I also have plans to bake my way through Martha Stewart’s “Baking Handbook” and Ladurée: The Sweet Recipes  (my awesome sister got this for me for xmas this year – best gift everrrrrrrr) over the next few weeks. Call it the homeschool version of pastry school. We’ll see how it goes lol. I’ll keep you updated.

Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend!

xx

-C

Kitchen Therapy

My grandmother passed away this last week. It’s weird, we’re taught to expect things like this once people pass the age of 80, but expecting it doesn’t make it any easier when they do leave. I don’t think it’s really even sunk in for me that I won’t see her in a few months, and she won’t be there to give me a bag of bagels to eat while I drive back to the Bay Area.

This last week was trying, to say the least. I can’t even imagine what it’s been like for my dad. I dealt with things by spending every free second in the kitchen, either cleaning or making food. Then on Friday, my sisters and I drove to Southern California for the funeral. Where I no longer had the option of hiding in the kitchen, so instead I opted to sleep and eat all the Indonesian food being offered to me.

Kitchen therapy is definitely the best way for me to cope with things so I look forward to working on new recipes this week. But even though things are starting to fall back into the daily routine, there’s still that little tugging feeling that reminds me that things are different now.

I don’t know where I was going with this post. I think I was planning to post a recipe of some of the things I made last week (and trust me, there were a lot of things), but I think those will have to wait until tomorrow.

For now though,

In Loving Memory of my Oma,

a link to one of my favorite Indonesian dishes – Nasi Goreng

If you do nothing else today, take five minutes to call your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc, that you may not have talked to in a while and just say hi.

xx

-C