Monday, July 29, 2013

kids art cookies

Kid's Art Cookies via design. bake. run.

several weeks ago c really wanted to make some cookies. instead of our usual chocolate chip cookies, we decided to do something different. he said he'd love to decorate some cookies. and me being me (i can't handle or have too much patience for sugar cookie cutouts and decorating), i opted for a much simpler approach to a decorated cookie with martha stewart's art cookie recipe.

these cookies turned out fabulous. they were quite the little edible art masterpieces. i say c did a very good job painting on the food coloring. the recipe said to use a straw and blow the paint around the cookie canvas, but that wasn't very successful with us. we did half blowing and half painting before baking our little cookie pieces. the overall results were great; abstract art pieces.

below's the recipe should you want to make some (with your little ones or grownups even). it's still summer so make some before school starts. hey, it could even be a neat little back-to-school treat for the teachers. :)

Art Cookies via design. bake. run.
these cookies are quite the cookie art masterpieces and they taste delicious. so good and buttery.

kids art cookies
recipe from martha stewart

  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • assorted liquid food coloring, for decorating

  1. line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. in large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
  2. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. beat in eggs.
  3. add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until well combined. stir in vanilla. wrap in plastic; refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  4. preheat oven to 325°f. on a floured work surface, roll dough 1/4 inch thick. transfer rolled dough to a prepared baking sheet; chill until firm, about 15 minutes. cut dough into large rectangles. place the cut cookies 2 inches apart on both of the prepared baking sheets. to decorate, place a few drops of food coloring on a cookie. using a straw, gently blow food coloring over cookie. place baking sheet of decorated cookies in refrigerator; chill until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.

makes 12 to 16 cookies.

cook's note: since this cookie is so buttery, keep the dough well chilled so it's easier to work with.

Friday, July 19, 2013

blue bottle coffee's zachte belgium waffles

Blue Bottle Coffee's Zachte Belgium Waffle via design. bake. run.

last saturday morning m and i were downtown (sf) and i really wanted him to try blue bottle coffee's drip coffee. i'm not a big coffee drinker (only started drinking it occasionally since the birth of v), but i do drink it sometimes and mostly just your typical starbucks; and occasionally blue bottle coffee. anyway, i wanted him to try blue bottle's so we headed out to their location at mint plaza. we ordered two drip coffees along with the zachte belgium waffle. i've had their other waffle before (the liege waffle) at the ferry building location. i have to say both waffles were great. the zachte is almost similar to your buttermilk waffle in that it finishes with a nice slather of butter, topped with maple syrup and powdered sugar and optional whipped cream and fresh fruits. we just opted for the maple syrup and powdered sugar with the butter. oh my, the waffle was delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. i was a little worried the maple syrup and powdered sugar may be too much, but no, not at all. i love how soft the waffle was on the inside but nice and crisp on the outside. cutting into it and taking those first few bites felt like you were in some kind of breakfast or food heaven. we really had to slow down and enjoy the waffle because we didn't want to rush through such a good thing. that and the coffee was the perfect saturday morning breakfast combination. you really can't complain.

this morning, craving that exact waffle from last saturday, i decided to whip up my own homemade version. i didn't have any maple syrup on hand so i decided to skip that and just topped mine with powdered sugar and whipped cream with fresh fruits. it was still delicious.

below's the recipe should you want to make some. it's very easy and unlike the liege waffles, there's no yeast so no waiting for the dough to rise! make some and let me know what you think. pretty awesome tasting waffles, isn't it? i say so. now, next time you're in san francisco or at a blue bottle coffee shop elsewhere in the us, order the real thing and do tell me it's one of the best tasting waffles ever. so worth that $8-9 price. :)

Blue Bottle Coffee's Belgium Waffle + Coffee -- photo by mzrichee on instagram
this was a photo i took with instagram last weekend. now, seriously, it's one good-looking waffle. delicious!

Blue Bottle Coffee's Zachte Belgium Waffle via design. bake. run.
i love how soft and tender this belgium waffle is; with a perfect crispy exterior and topped off with just the right amount of maple syrup and powdered sugar. a nice cup of coffee completes a delicious breakfast beautifully any day of the week.

blue bottle coffee's zachte belgium waffles
recipe from blue bottle coffee

  • 2-1/2 cups (12.3 oz / 350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz / 100 g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs (3.5 oz / 100 g), at room temperature
  • 2 cups (475 ml / 484 g) half-and-half
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 7 tablespoons (3.5 oz / 100 g) unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for serving
  • maple syrup, for serving
  • powdered sugar, for serving (optional)

  1. in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix well.
  2. in a medium bowl, combine the eggs and half-and-half and whisk vigorously until well blended. split the vanilla bean, scrape the pulp into the egg mixture, and whisk until the vanilla seeds are evenly distributed. add to the flour mixture and stir just until evenly combined. gently stir in the melted butter.
  3. preheat a waffle iron to medium-high heat. cook each waffle until the indicator light goes off or until browned and crisp. serve immediately with softened butter and maple syrup. waffles are the most delicious, and have the crispiest exterior, when eaten hot from the iron. if eating with a group, the waffles can be held in a 200°F (93°C) oven until all of the waffles are finished, but the exterior won't be as perfectly crisp.
  4. any leftovers can be cooled completely, stored in a zippered freezer bag, and frozen for up to 1 month. reheat them in the toaster for an easy weekday breakfast.

makes 6-7 waffles and takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish. enjoy! :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

exercise and me: week 3

Don't Stop Trying

i am proud to say i did do the two strength training workouts i set out for myself last week. it wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. i guess the trick is to do something you know you can do. and those two workouts were definitely doable. for sure i will be doing them again in the near future.

one thing that's a bummer is my weight has creeped back up to 101 and that's totally due to poor eating. before that i was stuck at 99. now that it's back up, i really need to scale back on all the yummy eats i've been having and really watch what i eat. for sure i've been eating a lot of salty foods lately and retaining a lot of water weight. i've been feeling bloated for the last several days. it doesn't help that i'm having a chicken burrito for lunch today. but... after today, i hope to eat much cleaner and better so that come the weekend my weight won't be so awful.

okay, for this week's strength training exercises, i am adding one more workout for a total of three strength training workouts and trying new workouts. i find it that if i keep them new and different, it doesn't make the workouts boring, etc. i'm pretty sure i can get all three in this week. i mean, c'mon… it's only three! how hard could it really be? they take less than 30 minutes, for sure!

below are the workouts. i plan on doing one of them tonight. they're all very similar in that the moves are more or less the same. i love how they don't require any equipments and uses just my bodyweight. if you'd like to try them, i say go ahead and put them down as a workout for you to try.

Fitness at Home Workout

Tone Up Tight Workout

Tone Up Tight Workout

yup, that's it for now. stay tune to see what i have in store for next week. :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

vanilla cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting via design. bake. run.

i have another wedding baking gig upcoming up sometime this october thanks to one of my coworkers' friend who is getting married. last october i baked a bunch of goodies for the friend who is getting married now's sister. this time around, this sister is asking for the same red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and vanilla cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream; in addition to a bunch of french macarons as well. those macaron flavors are still to be decided.

anyway, i mentioned i could make all these cupcakes with these flavors. well, as it turns out, i'd never really made salted caramel buttercream frosting before! hehehe oops, i know. but i have made caramel and salted caramel (from scratch) before. so to make sure i could actually do it, i did a test bake last night after my one of two strength training workouts for the week. i used my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe these days and still had some leftover caramel sauce in the fridge i had made not too long ago. long story short, my first attempt of salted caramel buttercream was somewhat successful. why only somewhat? because i'm not sure how much salt you can taste in the "salted" part of the salted caramel buttercream/sauce. i forgot to put the salt in my sauce when i was melting it and threw it in at the last minute while making the buttercream. regardless, i'll make the sauce again and remember to actually put some sea salt in it before making the actual buttercream.

below's the recipe for the salted caramel buttercream. it's quite intensive if you make everything from scratch but if you already have certain items lying around, it's not so bad. actually, it's not that bad. you can do it. i say salted caramel buttercream goes well with any chocolate or vanilla cupcake. so bake yourself some cupcakes today and top it off with this delicious frosting. trust me, it'll be quite the hit. ;)

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting via design. bake. run.
i think this salted caramel buttercream is a keeper and goes so well with any cupcakes.

salted caramel buttercream frosting **updated 10/28/13**

  • 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce (recipe below), more for cupcake drizzling if you like
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • milk or cream

  1. using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, cream together the butter and salted caramel sauce in a good size bowl until incorporated.
  2. then add in the confectioners' sugar and mix until you have the right consistency. if it looks like it's a little thick, add in some milk or cream to thin it out. if it's too thin, you can add in more sugar.
  3. once you have the right buttercream consistency, fill your piping bag and frost away.
  4. makes enough to frost 24-26 mini cupcakes. you can double the recipe if you like for frosting more cupcakes.

**note: i updated the buttercream frosting a tad because i found a better way of making it. of course, adding the caramel with the butter before adding in the sugar was a no-brainer. i don't know why i didn't think of that before. and using more butter to start off so it's more buttery and just delicious all around. :)

salted caramel sauce
adapted from tartine

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt or regular salt
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

directions for salted caramel sauce:
  1. Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Then add in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Place over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm.
  2. In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, sea salt and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. The mixture will continue to cook off the heat and become darker, so make sure to have your cream close by. Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Let the mixture simmer down, and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
  4. Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and add them to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.
  5. The caramel will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
  6. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

*note: Use a good-sized pan when preparing this caramel. When the hot cream is added, the caramel will boil furiously at first, increasing dramatically in volume. Have ice water nearby in case of burns.

cupcake recipe used: egg-less vanilla cupcakes

Thursday, July 11, 2013

exercise and me: week 2

Just Do It!

i've decided i should give my little exercise/getting fit blog posts a proper name. it's nothing spectacular or original, but this will do for now. so where am i after the first week and what's in store this week?

i'm pleased to say i did log in that one session of strength training last week. yes, i waited til the last day, but i did do it so i'm very proud of myself for having done it. for this week, i plan on doubling it and doing two. i have two workouts in mind and i hope to get them done before the weekend. actually, i'm going to do one of them tonight. if you're looking for new exercise routines or something different, i say why not try these two. i love that they don't require any fancy equipments or going to the gym. you can do them in the comfort of your own home. most of the workouts i love are very much like this. i can't be too bothered with extra things. so i say give them a try if you like. :)

No Nonsense Circuit Workout

30-Minute Body Weight No-Gym Workout

yup, that's it. just those two workouts for this week. :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

honeydew pudding cake bars

Honeydew Pudding Cake Bars via design. bake. run.

last month when i visited my mom she gave me two very ripe honeydews and a cantaloupe to bring back home. i'm not a fan of honeydews or cantaloupes. i don't know, as a kid and even now as an adult, i just don't care for the fruit. of course both fruits aren't quite the same, but for the most part, i feel like they are. they have similar flavors or taste that my tastebuds can't be bothered with. but that's besides the point. my mom knew c and m loves cantaloupes. she threw in the honeydews too because i told her they would eat it. well, actually, the cantaloupe got eaten up that very week after we got back. the honeydew however stayed put, getting more ripe by the day. i eventually got around to cutting it up and discovered that it was way riped and super sweet. it had so much juice that i decided i would repurpose the pudding cake recipe i made a while back with the passionfruit juice. the end result? not too bad. instead of doing what i did last time, i decided i would turn these into bars instead. i figured i wasn't in any rush to eat it right away so i can afford to let these cool until they're ready to be cut into.

the verdict? it's definitely different from any kind of bars i (or you) have eaten. m loves it. he said it's got this custardy taste to it. i say it's gummy good because there's so little flour and lots of liquid in the mix. although i have to confess, there was this weird bitter aftertaste to it. i can't quite put my finger on why the recipe came out this way. not sure if it was the honeydew juice that was giving it this bitter aftertaste or something else. i've made this recipe a few times in the past with passionfruit juice and guava and all those times they turned out tasting just fine.

well, nevertheless, if you're curious to try it out, feel free to. it's still good and i'll probably make it again. yes... even with that weird bitter aftertaste. i say it just makes these pudding cake bars all that more interesting. :)

Honeydew Pudding Cake Bars via design. bake. run.

Honeydew Pudding Cake Bars via design. bake. run.

honeydew pudding cake bars

  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted (and maybe a little bit more for greasing)
  • 1-1/3 cup sugar
  • 1-1/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honeydew juice or puree
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

  1. preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. in a good-size bowl, throw in all the ingredients except for the confectioners' sugar and mix until everything is incorporated/combined.
  3. pour mixture into a lightly greased ovenproof dish (i used an 8x8 nonstick pan) and bake for 1 hour or until golden.
  4. let the pudding cake cool completely before cutting them into squares. then dust with confectioners' sugar to serve.

makes 16 squares. enjoy and happy eating! :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

celebrating one year with tres leches cake

Tres Leches Cake via design. bake. run.

has it really been a year? well, happy one year to design. bake. run. then! to celebrate the one year anniversary of my little blog here (you can see the first entry here), i made this delicious tres leches cake (recipe courtesy of miss martha stewart). i have to say, tres leches cakes are so ridiculously good. you cannot go wrong with the three milk combo. and c'mon… sweetened condensed milk – O.M.G. seriously, so, so good!

i remembered a couple months back while attending a kiddie birthday party at my brother-in-law's house and they had a tres leches birthday cake. on the drive home i told m i wanted a tres leches cake as my birthday cake (my birthday is this month) instead of his famous cheesecake; m was a little offended. hahahaha… i guess he was probably thinking because his famous cheesecake wasn't all that great or tasty anymore in my eyes. i told him it's just that the tres leches cake was just so darn good. i could never have enough of it. actually, i think it's so good because i don't eat enough of it and only on special occasions such as birthdays like the one we went to. okay, the point i'm trying to make here is, m doesn't eat a whole lot of baked goods these days but after i made this cake, i made him try it. he said he would only eat a couple mouthfuls and before i knew it, he ate the whole slice! he said it was for sure one of the best cakes he's ever eaten; and definitely better than store-bakery-made. he wants it as his next birthday cake. i told him right then and there, "see, i told you. that's why i wanted it for mine too!" hahahaha

alright, if you'd like to see how good this cake is, feel free to make the recipe and let us know. don't you agreed? tres leches cakes are really something delicious. i will for sure be making them again and again. just not all the time so it's still one of the best things ever! ;)

Tres Leches Cake via design. bake. run.
this tres leches cake is seriously one of the best thing ever, if not the best thing ever. nice and moist with all that soaked milk – delish!

tres leches cake
recipe from martha stewart

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 cups fresh fruit (optional), such as oranges or berries, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 3/4 cup sugar on high until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. With a rubber spatula, fold in melted butter until incorporated. Transfer batter to dish and bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating dish halfway through.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milks. Poke warm cake all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick, then pour milk mixture over top and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  3. Whip cream and 1/4 cup sugar to medium peaks. To serve, spread whipped cream evenly over cooled cake. Top with fruit if desired. I didn't bother with the fruit toppings except for the few blueberries that I put on top of the cut slices. The cake tastes delicious with or without the fruit topping, I think.

umm... so, the last year in review? well, let's say i haven't done as much design as i'd like (or at least post them up on here anyway). i hope that in this second year i can put up more design-related entries. i'd love to experiment with some thing such as watercolor art. nothing spectacular or anything, just some artwork; if not mine, maybe even c's. he love watercolor painting and have the best kiddie art for a 5-year-old. i really should post his lady bug watercolor painting he did for me a while back. he thought of it all by himself and it looks amazing. hah! probably better than what i would have done. but yes, all in all, i'd love to post more design works here.

now with running, i'm still chugging along. i run all the time, i just can't be bothered to blog about it. maybe i will pick that up again too, i don't know. it may help me with my pace/speed/etc. i still need to improve on my pace and get a better finish time. i hope that by the time the 2014 sf marathon comes around, i can run an easy 9:15 to 9:30-min/mile pace for the half marathon. that race is still a whole year ahead, so i hope to do great things from now til then.

and lastly, it's been a wonderful year for anything baked goods related. i do love how i stumbled upon a recipe for those cute mini creme brulee cupcakes. the pictures for those turned out fantastic as well and is one of my popular posts on here. the coffee nutella french macarons were one of my first few baking posts and to date it is my most popular post. i hope that this next year i will land upon or create some amazing goodies. i know i'm still baking like mad; although i have slowed down a little bit the last several weeks. i still have a lot of baking on my to-bake bucket list and i have some recipes i'd like to try or experiment. i can't wait to share them here and look forward to another year of journaling anything and everything design, bake and run related. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

a new approach to losing weight and getting fit: weekly exercise challenges

slow and steady wins the race

i think i've come to the conclusion that i suck at long-term challenges or goals when it comes to exercises, especially strength-training exercises. i tell myself i'd do all these exercises and then i'm really good for the first week or two and that's it. looking back on the month of june, it wasn't very successful. i didn't do everything i said i would. i think i stuck it out for the first week and stopped soon after. i did however stuck to the minute planks, pushups and dips, but that was it. i think that was easier to stick to and do on a regular basis because it only took a few minutes. the exercises were still challenging enough, but the fact that i could do them in 5 minutes or less was maybe the reason why those stuck and the others didn't?!

now, having set some kind of exercise challenges/goals the last few months, i think i know what kind of person i am when it comes to working out. i know i run regularly (at least 3-4x a week, some weeks may be a run or two less or more, but regardless, i make sure i run at every week). i also know i do my minute plank, 30-second side planks, 20 pushups and dips just about every night. i also know i can never go beyond the 10-14 day marker for any zone-targeting exercises. so maybe instead of setting out month-long goals, i will focus on itty bitty goals for starters. start small and over time, it will accumulate to great things. :)

with this new enlightenment, i think it will be an accomplishment if i finish one thing this week. and that is to do one full (proper) strength-training workout. even if it's just 10 minutes, as long as it targets the abdominal, arms or legs – that would be quite the fete. i know one session isn't a whole lot, but for someone who gets bored easily, one session a week will do. one session of 10 minutes or longer per week for someone who can't even be bothered to do anything beyond 5 minutes of strength workouts, that is. one session will be a whole lot more than no session at all. i say i can do it. i know i can.

what's the exercise workout i have in store this week? i have a few in mind. there's this 6-exercise routine in the britney spears cover shape magazine issue (not sure if it was june or july 2013), but i'm thinking i can do that. 6 different moves, for a minute, 3 times. sounds easy enough and all under 20 minutes or so. if i don't do that routine, i could always do one of the 15-minute videos from nike's training app. i've done those in the past and they are quite the workout. i know i'll work up a sweat. and lastly, if i don't do any of those two, i'll probably just make up my own. you can't go wrong with a few pushups, dips, lunges, squats, planks, bicep curls and military presses. yeah... those are good options as well.

okay, stay tune. i plan to update at the end of the week. i hope when i check back on sunday night or monday morning that i've accomplished what i've set off to do here.

random stats (for myself, really) just because:
  • miles ran this year as of today: 255.15 miles
  • lifetime steps with fitbit as of this morning (member since feb 24, 2013): 1,993,073 steps
  • weight lost since january 1 of this year (as of yesterday): 9.6 lb (from 108.6 lb) -- i know i haven't highlighted this a whole lot, but it's pretty impressive. i haven't been under 100 lb since before baby #2. making slow progress to my goal weight of 97 lb! :)

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