Birthdays, birthdays are so fun. Birthdays are for everyone! I know; my poetry and observation skills are just incredible. And I know everyone always says that each birthday was better than the last, but I really can’t lie; this birthday was by far the most fun (or delicious at the very least). It’s kind of a given when you get teenage girls (especially two foodie birthday pals!) together though, so ya know. It was destined to happen. Below, the feastings:
Preface: I went to New Orleans to visit the people that I’ll be going to Taiwan with later this summer. If you’ve never been, do yourself a favor and GO. It is awesome. Go to Cafe du Monde for some beignets and cafe au lait, any one of the many seafood places, get some crawfish, and go to the French Quarter/Riverwalk for your fill of touristy fun. So anyways, I got there on Friday but unfortunately didn’t happen to have my camera on me when we went for beignets and etouffee. Nothing particularly eventful happened on Monday, so no photos from then either. But there were Saturday and Sunday happenings!
Saturday: I visited the Riverwalk and French Quarter with some family friends.
…and as for my lack of photos from the French Quarter, I will hereby justify myself by saying that we ended up driving through instead of walking due to the intense heat/humidity. (Next time!)
Sunday: Went to church with church buddies for Father’s Day/baking day in the afternoon.
Unpictured in this post: family friends, gumbo, Taiwan team members- all of whom/which I hope to/will be revisit(ing) shortly!
Stay tuned for Summer Photo Journal #2: Ithaca, NY and other random spammings!
Having a birthday on Cinco de Mayo is pretty fantastic, especially if you are a high schooler in Spanish 4 porque hay una fiesta just for you! However, this does usually require that one bring their own specialized birthday treat. As the title of this post indicates, I made cinnamon caramel churro cupcakes! Here’s how:
Get some tortillas (white, whole wheat, whatever) and a cute mini cookie cutter…
You’re going to need cupcakes and a bit of thick caramel (dulce de leche!). I used the back of a chopstick to perforate my cupcakes and fill them, but I’m sure the back of a spoon handle/spoon would work equally well.
Idea inspiration from The Curvy Carrot!
Happy Strawberry Month/Season/whatever this is! In honor of the seasonal strawberry boom, I chose to make this Japanese cheesecake. Having not actually baked much of anything (especially involving whipping egg whites), I am happy to say that this was a success! Lately, I’ve seen Japanese cheesecakes all around the blogosphere. There are yummy loaves (look at the crumb! so perfect), cute green tea versions, and swirly patriotic/psychedelic ones. In the end though, I decided to go with the one I first found here a couple years ago. Since I first saw that post, I’ve been meaning to make one, but I’ve just never gotten around to it.
In case you aren’t familiar with this style of cheesecake, it’s lighter than your traditional NY cheesecake and fluffier too, thanks to the whipped egg whites. The way I see it, you get all the fat without the feeling of guilt! 😉
As you can tell from the top left square, I was having some issues with my melted cream cheese. It was kinda clumpy and frustrating to deal with. Same with the addition of the flour mixture (even though it was sifted). It all worked out though with the addition of the egg yolks.
Makes a 9×13″
12 egg whites
12 egg yolks
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
100g butter (approx. 1 stick)
500g cream cheese (approx 2 1/8 bars)
200 ml milk (I used 2%)
120g cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1. Cube the butter and cream cheese. Add to a saucepan with the milk and place over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter and cream cheese are melted. Allow this to cool before adding in the egg yolks, one at a time. At this point, preheat the oven to 375F or 160C.
2. Sift the cake flour and cornstarch together over the cream cheese mixture in 3 additions, stirring well after each.
3. Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and whip on medium speed, gradually pouring in the sugar. When the sugar has been added, turn the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form.
4. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the cream cheese mixture until incorporated. (Check for streaks!)
5. Line a 9×13″ springform (or regular) pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture in.
6. Place your water bath* on the bottom rack of the oven and slide your cheesecake on the top rack.
7. Bake for about 1 hour (you may need more or less time depending on your oven) or until golden and set.
Note: Do not immediately remove the cheesecake. Let the cheesecake stand in the oven with the door ajar for about an hour. This will help prevent cracks and such. Also, I made this the night before, and after letting it sit covered and refrigerated overnight, it was easier to handle.
*I boil water for the water bath as the batter is being made so that there is a sufficient amount of steam circulating throughout the oven.
*disclaimer to those who know me in real life: no, I did not eat this cheesecake as it is comprised pretty much solely of dairy products. But everyone who did eat this enjoyed it immensely, and there were no leftovers.
I’ve been meaning to get around to this earlier, but life, school, etc. have gotten in the way. But! It happened, and a good time was had by all. And how could we not? What with seahorses, exotic fish, penguins and shark-petting, we were bound to enjoy ourselves.
Mela Verde Salad- Mixed Greens, Dried Cran/Blueberries, Walnuts, Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette, Gorgonzola and Diced Green Apples
Mascarpone Mashed Potatoes
Bow Tie Pasta with Spinach, Mushroom and Artichokes in a Pesto Cream Sauce (This was by far the biggest hit!)
Sauteed Baby Vegetables and Haricot Verts in a Basil Oil
…and there was a chicken dish, but that held no interest for me. (Though everyone else loved it!)
…and never been kissed. (To all my Asian relatives; don’t freak out- it’s just a saying.) And while I may not be 16 anymore, I won’t deny the latter. Go ahead, label me. I don’t mind. The way I see it, I still have all of me and no regrets (which puts me way ahead of the charts, statistically speaking). I came across a list the other day that I made in 8th grade labeled “Expectations for High School.” Though it’s only been three years, I was still interested in what my (more) naive self had believed and wanted. In rather large script at the top was: #1: I will stay single throughout high school. While visiting my aunt in LA this past summer, she commented on how wise my choice was not to date. I didn’t really realize until then how much I actually believed in the idea of not dating. Sure, I’ve had middle school interests and a even somewhat serious (haha, don’t laugh) freshman fling, but in general, a boyfriend hasn’t been at the top of my priorities. Don’t get me wrong- there’s nothing bad (necessarily) about teenage “love” (though I may or may not question its validity), and I don’t really mind the relationships going on around. But in this time of single-ness, I like the solitude that comes with not having to be responsible with the details of another person’s life. So now I’m at the end of my sixteenth year, at the cusp of my seventeenth, and call me delusional or what have you, but I have to say that I couldn’t be more happy with the way things are.