I’ve been baking a lot this summer since my schedule was so flexible with studying for boards and research, so I wanted to share some of my sweet creations as well as their recipes here on the blog. Get ready to drool!
1. Hot chocolate cookies
I found this recipe when I searched for something that had marshmallows as an ingredient because I still had a lot left over from the last time I made fondant. These cookies used mini marshmallows and hot chocolate packages! I also used a mixture of regular and white chocolate chips. These turned out amazing, and they’re best eaten when fresh out of the oven, when the marshmallows are still gooey! Recipe here.
2. Salted Nutella peanut butter thumbprint cookies
Made these for 4th of July with red, white (sea salt), and blue sprinkles. They were really ricj and creamy tasting! Recipe here.
3. Nutella marshmallow fruit toast
I invented this super easy and delicious snack when I was studying for boards. Makes a great nutritious snack or even breakfast! I simply spread Nutella on a slice of toast, topped it with strawberries and banana slices, sprinkled some mini marshmallows on top, and put it in the oven under the broiler for like 30 seconds until the marshmallows are golden and melty. So good!
4. Devil’s food cupcakes with Nutella filling and toasted marshmallow frosting
Starting to see a theme in the ingredients? Yeah… I had a lot of marshmallows and Nutella to get rid of. For the cupcakes I just used a cake mix, and then I filled them with Nutella, and the recipe for the frosting you can find here. I made these for Yufei’s birthday and he took some to work and they were a hit!
5 & 6. Egg yolk sugar cookies and chocolate coconut macaroons
I wanted to make my coconut macaroons (i posted the recipe here a while ago) but they only called for egg whites, so I had to find another recipe that used the yolks. These cookies are what I found! The recipe is here. I didn’t have cream of tartar so I substituted 1 tsp baking powder and some lemon juice instead. They turned out really well; slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with just a touch of lemon flavor.
I also wanted to share a kitchen gadget that’s made my life so much easier as a baker – a cookie scoop! Well, actually it’s a set of 3 scoops in different sizes, and they can be used for so many things. I use them mostly for cookies, they create such nice round even cookies! Here’s when I used it for the egg yolk sugar cookies:
I’ve also used the bigger size for cupcake batter (to distribute it evenly among cups), and the smaller size for meatballs. Of course, they can be used to scoop ice cream too. You can find them in any store that sells kitchen stuff or on Amazon.
Lastly, a bit of reflection on baking. I’ve always liked to bake, but since dental school started I’ve been doing it a lot more. I think it has to do with finding a hobby that you can turn to when you’re stressed out, something you can escape to. My classmates are often surprised that I find time to bake during finals, but really, it’s a form of stress-relief for me. I’m just really happy and energized when I’m creating something sweet and delicious with my hands, something that I can then share with my friends and loved ones. During a stressful time like dental school, it’s more important than ever to have that hobby, just so that you feel like you have a life outside of school. For me it’s been baking; for you it could be something else. I’ve seen classmates and upperclassmen turning to so many cool and creative outliets: soap-making, biking, painting, jewelry design…. the possibilities are endless. So that’s one piece of advice I would give to anyone entering a challenging time in their life: just find something you love doing and keep doing it no matter how crazy life gets, because it’s what helps you stay sane.
Can’t believe my super long summer is almost ending! I’m frantically trying to finish up my summer research project, submit the abstract and finalize my poster… because next Friday Yufei and I are leaving for a week in Iceland! It’ll be my last big summer adventure and I’m so beyond excited for it.
Some other news since last time… I passed boards! I started to get really worried when everyone who took it the same day as me (or even after) started getting results in the mail and I was still waiting, and I called them and found out that it must have gotten lost in the mail. So they had to re-send it and I finally got it 5 weeks after my exam. I felt pretty good about it afterwards so I wasn’t too worried about passing, but the wait was agonizing! It would have been so nice if we got instant results like the DAT (man that was so great). But now that it’s done, I can relax a bit and enjoy my D2 year (supposedly the most chill year at UCSF according to upperclassmen).
We celebrated Yufei’s 24th birthday last month! We had dinner at Hakkasan and then drinks with friends at Local Edition. One of the presents I got him was this scratch map where you scratch off places you’ve travelled to. Since we love traveling together I thought this would be a good way to track where we’ve been together.
Really puts into perspective how much of the world there is left to see!
What else… we went to the annual Twitter picnic last month. It was such a gorgeous day, and since we don’t get many of those in the summer months in SF, I of course didn’t use sunscreen and got burnt.
Afterwards we went to check out the Wave Organ, which was nearby.
There was even this nice little stretch of beach facing the city!
I also got my first haircut since my perm last year. I went back to Betty at Sally’s Salon since I really trust her. She got rid of my dead ends and got some layers in there, and I asked for side swept bangs. My hair now feels much lighter even though it’s still long. I’ve been putting it up in a ponytail more often since it’s not as heavy and the bangs frame my face nicely.
That’s about it for now. Some upcoming posts to look forward to include a summer restaurant summary, my recent baking adventures, and LA trip!
Happy Labor Day everyone! I did this fun mani for the long weekend, which Yufei and I are spending in sunny LA.
I used 2 coats of e.l.f.’s Blush, a lovely rose gold color, then used strips of masking tape to make the pattern, then used 2 coats of Zoya’s Elodie on top.
It’s super simple to do, you can make all kinds of patterns, and it works with lots of different color combinations! Hope you’re all enjoying the long weekend!
Yufei and I had dinner at Firefly back in July. It’s in a neighborhood we don’t go to often, but I needed to pick up the ceramics Jenny and I painted from the studio, so we met up for dinner there.
Complimentary bread with bean spread, very unusual.
Yufei’s appetizer, a sweet a delicious corn chowder.
My appetizer of shrimp and scallop potstickers. They were pretty good, but I still find it strange that western restaurants have Asian dishes for appetizer (spring rolls, etc.).
Fried chicken entree for Yufei. It was a pretty big serving so he only ate half and saved the other half for my lunch the next day.
My entree of sea bass. It was just okay, a bit bland and under-seasoned. I wished it had a more flavorful sauce.
Cute little frosted jar on each table.
Desserts: chocolate crepes and peach tart. They were both really good, a nice note to end the meal.
Overall the food at Firefly was just average, with the soup and the desserts being the highlight. The service was nice though; they had forgotten Yufei’s beer order and comped it after we reminded them. Probably won’t go back unless we’re in the area again.
Towards the end of June, I went to have afternoon tea with some friends to celebrate the birthday of Rebecca, a friend from school. We went to the Rotunda, on the top floor of Neiman Marcus. I had no idea this place existed inside the store, especially with all the construction going on in the area. But it was so beautiful inside, with a gorgeous stained glass ceiling:
We all got the signature tea, which comes with a pot of Dammann Frères loose leaf paired with “delicate housemade sweets, petite cookies, exquisite tarts, a selection of finger sandwiches and flaky scones with preserves and cream.” After we placed our orders we got a tiny soup and crouton to start things off.
Then came their famous popovers, which was so fluffy and buttery and just heavenly.
I chose the Nuit à Versailles tea, a green tea (the name just sounds so pretty).
Our food! We each got 4 kinds of sweet pastries/dessert, a scone, and 6 different savory sandwiches. So even though they’re dainty, it’s still quite a lot of food, enough for lunch!
Butter, jams, and jellies for the scones. And lemons for the tea.
We had a lovely time at the Rotunda. The tea, food, service, and ambiance were all impeccable. I will definitely be back there again sometime soon!
After spirit tasting, we stopped by a little bar/cafe/grocery store to grab a beer and watch part of a World Cup game. Then we took a bus to the International Rose Test Garden, a huge garden filled with blooming roses of every kind and color. It was beautiful.
It was still much too early for our dinner reservation then, so we stopped by Powell’s City of Books for a while.
It was a huge bookstore that takes up a whole city block, and we just browsed the books and read on a bench to kill time. Then we headed to dinner at Le Pigeon. We decided to get the 5 course tasting for a pretty reasonable $75 per person. Some of the highlights of the meal include the first starter, the Hawaii-Foie-O, with smoked foie gras, shoyu chicken, pineapple, and macadamian nuts.
One of the entrees, a pork chop with endives, goat cheese, a delicious mustardy vinaigrette.
And the second part of dessert, their famous foie gras profiteroles with caramel sauce and sea salt. It seems strange to me at first to use foie gras in a dessert, but it was really good. Glad Gotta take advantage of foie gras whenever I leave California!
And I just had to share these cute little chocolates with a pigeon print we got at the end of the meal. How adorable!
We were totally stuffed at the end of the night. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in a day before (and not very healthy either, with doughnuts, fried chicken and waffles, and foie gras). We decided to work off some of the calories and walked back to our hotel across the river.
The next day was our last day in Portland, and we had a few hours in the morning before we left. We walked to see the statue Portlandia, the second largest bronze statue in the US after the Statue of Liberty.
Then we walked around a mall for a bit, bought some souvenirs for my parents, and got frozen yogurt. Then we packed up and went to Union Station because we were taking Amtrak back to SF! Yufei is kind of obsessed with trains and had been really looking forward to the journey back. We had a roomette, which had a bed on the bottom that converts to 2 seats, and bed that folds down on the top.
The train was pretty nice, with a lounge car with windows for views, a dining car, and even a small theatre. The food onboard was just ok (breakfast was probably the best meal I had) and I didn’t sleep very well on the top bunk (I felt like I was about to roll off the narrow bed whenever the train turned even though there were barriers preventing falls), but it was an interesting experience overall.
Our Oregon trip was a wonderful getaway and I was so sad when it was over. Thankfully it won’t be our last travel adventure this summer. Stay tuned!
After we left Bend, we drove to Portland and arrived in the afternoon. We returned the car (you’ll have to wait to see how we got back to SF!) and took a train to downtown. After settling down in our hotel, we went to explore the city a bit. We took a nice walk along the river and in the park along the shore.
And we had dinner at Saucebox, a pan-Asian restaurant. The restaurant was kind of divided into 2 halves, with one side with black walls and dim lighting, and the other side with white walls and a more airy atmosphere.
We got seated on the white side and got some delicious cocktails to start. I got their soft shell crab buns, which were really good.
Yufei and I also shared their pupu platter, which came with a variety of appetizers. We especially liked the Korean baby back ribs.
After dinner, we just went back to our hotel and rested for the next fully packed day in Portland. We went to Voodoo Doughnuts first to get some doughnuts for breakfast.
The line was pretty long when we got there but moved fairly fast. We got a Portland cream doughnut and a voodoo doll because it was just too cute. Both were delicious!
We took a walk through the Portland Saturday Market afterwards, where there were tons of booths of handcrafted items and food.
Then we made our way to the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a classical Suzhou-style garden. It was beautifully done and it was such a peaceful place to get away from the city.
Then we took a bus across the river to get lunch at Screen Door.
There was a wait, as expected, which was fine with us since we were still full from the doughnuts. So we took a little walk around the neighborhood and stopped by a park for a bit before heading back. Once we were seated, we decided to get Screen Door’s famous chicken and waffle:
And also an omelet, which we regretted ordering after seeing how humongous the chicken and waffles was.
We impressively ate most of the food (it was a LOT of food), all of which were delicious. We were super stuffed afterwards though!
Our next destination was Distillery Row, an area with a bunch of distilleries. We saw this cool sun halo on our way!
It was kind of hard to find the area at first, but once we found the first one, they were all in the same few blocks.
We visited and did tastings of all kinds of spirits at 3 different distilleries. It was a cool new experience for us since we’d never done spirit tasting before!
Portland – Part 2