Friday, December 30, 2011

Wonderful Christmas 2011, a New Puppy, and Raisin Oat Bran Muffins

The holiday season is nearly bowled over once New Years' hits! Wowie, it's been pretty crazy, but in a good way. The rush of buying gifts was done in pretty good time, for me, unfortunately I still have to do gift exchanges with my girlfriends when they get back from Las Vegas and such (lucky dogs, going to Las Vegas on New Years). This year, we had our Christmas dinner at our house instead of grandma's (which is a long 1.5 hour drive inland). It was simple and not overloaded with food, which I like, but we still had leftovers. My mom made her delicious and famous mi hoanh thanh (wonton noodle soup), my grandma made her ca ri ga (Vietnamese curry chicken, my fave dish of hers!), and my aunt brought over seasoned chicken wings (I think from Costco). My other aunt bought a tiramisu cake from Costco (so delicious).

Mi Hoanh Thanh
 It was a good night, one that I liked a lot better than the long-winded Christmases we've had before, which involved pictures before, during and after each present and unwrapping. We shot through our presents, which were also reduced in number this year and again which I liked because I don't like excess.
Me and Ong Noi (Grandpa!)

Cousin's gifts to Cat
Me, my sis, and my aunt

Auntie and Me

Scarf crocheted by Cousin's fiance
Those scares my sister and I are wearing were made by my cousin's fiance. She crocheted them in a matter of one to two days. She is insane!!! What crocheting talent and drive! I can barely edge out one crocheted item every 6 months. She's super awesome and fun to hang out with.

Best gift, though, had to be this cute little guy my sister brought home around 3:30pm Christmas Eve day.

Cody, the Mini Toy Australian Shepherd
He's a Mini Toy Australian Shepherd, a Blue Merl. My sister drove 1.5 hours to get him in the morning, going under the alibi that she had to go "Christmas shopping." She got herself her Christmas gift, haha. She didn't get the complete approval of our parents beforehand; she just went and brought him home. Haha, my dad was pretty excited, and still is. My mom, she's a different story. As old Asian people are: dogs are smelly and dirty! Don't let them lick your face! You'll get freckles! So nasty! Aghhh! He isn't. He's a cute little guy, except now he bites and gnaws at my feet and ankles really bad. Ow!

Sleepy the first two days we got him
I didn't bake or cook anything for Christmas since we had too much cookies and cakes and pies already, but I'll show you some stuff I made during school:

Raisin Bran Muffins
Made with Arrowhead Mill Oat Bran
Raisins soaked in Cola
You can find the recipe on the back of the Arrowhead Mills Oat Bran box. I tweaked their basic oat bran muffin recipe by adding cola-soaked raisins, and a couple extra shakes of cinnamon and allspice, and a light sprinkling of brown sugar-cinnamon topping. You can freeze leftovers by wrapping individual muffins in plastic wrap and in another freezer plastic wrap for extra protection. Just take out and microwave somewhere between 45-60 seconds. These are great for breakfast or afternoon or late night snacks. They are very dense though, so I recommend that healthy and filling combination of a glass of (almond!) milk.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baking Donuts in the Throes of Dead Week

It is really hard to believe that I am an undergraduate senior at UC Berkeley and that I am coming to the end of my second to last semester here. "Rest, Recitation, and Review" Week (or more commonly and endearingly referred to by faculty and students as "Dead Week") has just begun and it is going to be hectic. Two group projects/presentations due on Wednesday and Friday this week, so I'm meeting with my groups nearly every day (but today, thank goodness!). Review sessions and mandatory attendance of presentations occur during the same time as my normal class periods, so it's not like classes ended last Friday, as it officially says in the Academic Calendar. Not to mention I have about 5 late shifts this week. This is going to be very intense, but somehow I'll survive.

Berkeley engineering students in the library the day before Dead week

And then sometime find time to write my graduate applications to three more universities and a scholarship app before December 15.


Anyways, you've all come here to read about my baking, not my personal life. I mean, that's why we browse food blogs right? The person behind the screen does not matter. Only their food and their ability to take photos of their food matter. Therefore, I will digress no longer.

Gingerbread Donuts.

I've been having this unrelenting craving for gingerbread man cookies since Thanksgiving. I bought the Lebkuchen from World Market, made pear upside-down gingerbread cake (from, to be documented soon!), and bought iced gingerbread cookie bites from a nearby bakery...Yet nothing has satisfied my craving for a real, full-on gingerbread man cookie.

So I made gingerbread donuts, and am still craving gingerbread men. Oh, the woes of woman, to crave food and men in the same moment. Browsing through Tastespotting, I that livelovepasta posted this wonderfully healthy and tasty recipe for gingerbread donuts and immediately bookmarked it. (She apparently got it from PinchofYum, Sunday morning, I got up and made a batch to bring to my project group (unfortunately didn't have time to ice them before bringing them. So much better iced!)

I modified her recipe because of the spices I had on hand, and I wanted to try the lemon and gingerbread combo I've seen floating around. Berkeley is bountiful with random lemon trees in front of everyone's apartments and houses. It's so great, walking home, reaching into someone's tree, plucking a fresh and plump lemon, and then taking it home. ;-P

Gingerbread Donuts with Lemon "Spicing" (modified from livelovepasta)
For the Batter:
1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
Sprinkling of allspice (can be somewhat generous)
Sprinkling of nutmeg (this is strong, don't be too generous)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (dark) brown sugar, divided
1 egg
¼ cup (unsweetened) applesauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I used breakfast syrup, darn maple syrup is expensive on a college budget)
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons butter (melted in the microwave)
For the Glaze:
Powdered sugar, couple squeezes of fresh lemon, cinnamon and ginger, all to taste and texture

1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and ¼ cup brown sugar together in a medium bowl.
2. Melt butter in microwave. Mix the egg, applesauce, syrup, and milk in a large bowl. Pour in the butter and mix well. (keep the bowl the butter was in)
3. Pour in half the flour mixture to the liquid mixture. Stir to mix. Pour and fold in the rest of the flour mixture.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Use a pastry brush and wipe off the butter from the butter bowl. Use this to grease the mini donut pan.
6. Put some of the batter into a plastic zip bag and cut a small bit of the bottom corner of the bag. Fill each tin ½ full with batter (or 3/4 full for super awesome plump donuts).
7. Bake for about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Cool in the pan 5-10 min, then use a plastic knife and excavate the donuts from the pan carefully. Let cool completely on wire racks.
8. Mix the glaze ingredients together, making sure it's not too liquidy, but not too hard to stir. Push donut tops in, twist about to coat, pull up. Use a chopstick or plastic knife to smooth out the glaze and to remove extra glaze.
9. Let the glaze harden, set out on a nice plate and ENJOY!!!

(Calorie content should be around 100 if you make around 20 donuts, around 150 if you make 12, and around 50-80 if you make around 24 donuts)


You won't wanna share these little treats. Hot dayum, these tasted really good. I was sad to share them with my roommates and friends, to tell the truth. Really yummy. The donuts by themselves are a little dry tasting on their own (unlike the vanilla and hint-of-nutmeg donuts from VeganYumYum), but taste really good with the lemon frosting.

Definitely gonna make these again when I have time. Oh, 4 weeks of winter break, come now!

Hope you enjoyed this latest update on my Donut Project (and my life, lol). Hope to see you all soon! Wish me luck to survive through Dead Week and Finals!