Chinese New Year – Almond Cookies

Once a year my Mother’s side of the family get’s together in San Francisco; (have I even mentioned that I’m half Chinese?) and we celebrate the Chinese New Year. We always go to the same restaurant, The Eight Immortals because my Grandparents love it and even though they’re gone my Grandma’s youngest Brother still keep up with the tradition.

The kids always get lai see (red envelopes), my Mom gives out little bags of candy with dried coconut (a personal favorite) and pineapple cakes and I always give out a little something to all of the Elders. This year See’s was out since our local shops decided not to carry any little boxes of chocolate in red paper and I was tired of giving ferrero rocher.

To change it up I thought it would be nice to make some Almond Cookies and give those away. It’s a little bit more of a heartfelt gesture and seriously who doesn’t love freshly make cookies in a sea of pre-packaged treats? After consulting my good friend the internet I decided upon THIS recipe, submitted by Member #610488 from Food.com since I had all the ingredients on hand and it promised to make a bunch.

Not only did my Mom tell me that this recipe was a keeper but several of the relatives, whom I’m sure have had their share of Almond Cookies, told me they were quite tasty. The Husband also gave his seal of approval and said that they didn’t have the almond meal/grainy texture of store-bought cookies and he’s happily munch on the extras.

I love it when a recipe knocks it out of the park, don’t you?

Gong Hey Fat Choy or Happy New Year Everyone!

Yours Truly,

Mel


Valentine’s Day

Say what you will about Valentine’s Day but for the last decade I’ve been a fan. Not because I buy into all the flowers, romantic dinner out for two or the chocolate but because I like to take one day and completely indulge myself and my love for baking.

It’s one of the few days a year when I can just ignore the guilt I usually feel when I get into one of my baking modes and I just go. Overboard, maybe but no one was complaining.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Yours Truly,

Mel


Seattle Trip – High 5 Pie

Last week The Husband and I took what will probably be out last flight before baby and visited my youngest Sister in Seattle. It wasn’t a long trip, just 4 days but it was chock-full of good eats and lots of walking and I finally, FINALLY got to try this pie place that she’s been telling me about since she started at Seattle University back in September.

High 5 Pie is a true pie lover’s paradise and the decor is kind of retro-chic. Not only are they pie slices very generous but each one is handmade and they’re super tasty; definitely worth my months long wait. They had your usual fare of banana cream, cherry, salted caramel pear but the minute I saw the Bumbleberry (a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) I had to try it and it was spot on and berry heaven. Also, apparently the crust is the owner, Dani’s Grandmother’s butter crust recipe and I had no complaints; it was flaky, buttery and delicious.

The Husband and my Sister both went for the banana cream and it was so rich that both were hard-pressed to finish it and I was quite happy to swoop in and take one for the team.

Too bad we were just visiting because I’d be all over their crust making classes, seeing as to how that’s one thing that I’m very hit or miss with and probably a regular here.

If I have you salivating I’m sorry to say they’re only based in Seattle but according to yelp, Heidi’s Pies in San Mateo, CA is supposed to be renowned for their banana cream and blueberry sour cream pies.

Yours Truly,

Mel


Crazy for Peanut Butter

We’ve been a little peanut butter crazy at our house for the last few days and by we, I mean me. Blame it on the hormones but peanut butter and me have been BFFs since the beginning of my pregnancy. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter on toast, peanut butter with apples it’ll all tasty.

Of course I can’t ignore how wonderfully peanut butter pairs with desserts and that’s why I whipped up these two recipes last night.

I started with these Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies by Robyn of Add A Pinch and while they were baking I got to to work on these Traditional Peanut Butter Cookies from 12 Tomatoes.

I was a pretty huge fan of the soft and chewy texture of the cookies and The Husband gladly helped himself to a brownie with a side of milk so I’d say that the desserts were a success.

 

Try your hand at them and tell me which one you fancy more.

Yours Truly,

Mel



When Your Tree Gives you Lemons…

Yesterday morning as The Husband and I were taking the dog for a quick walk around the block he mentioned that our lemon tree was chock full of lemons and they were ripe NOW. My first reaction was excitement because yeah, we (and I mean The Husband) was able to bring the tree back from the brink and secondly lemon desserts because that’s just how my mind operates.

As images of lemon bars, lemon bread, lemon cookies and more swam through my head I got giddy and then because hello pregnancy I got tired just thinking about all that extra work after a full day of real work.

Lucky for me it’s the weekend starting tomorrow and I can’t wait to get my baking back on.

As fate would have it this morning Facebook greeted me with a lemon bread recipe so on the “To Make List”, are some of these tasty looking treats from Averie Cooks.

The Best Lemon Loaf This loaf is made even better since the recipe says you can do it all in one bowl with no mixer; my favorite kind of baking.

Photo courtesy of Averie @ Averie Cooks

Soft and Chewy Lemon Cookies Lemon are fruits so I can at least try and trick myself into thinking that they’re good for me.

Photo courtesy of Averie @ Averie Cooks

The Best Lemon Bars My Mom is a huge fan of lemon bars and a recipe that promises to be both sweet and citrus-y would definitely have her approval.

Photo courtesy of Averie @ Averie Cooks

Averie I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get to baking; you’re recipes look so enticing!

I know what I’m up to this weekend; anyone else have any great lemon recipes they’d like to share?

Yours Truly,

Mel


Changes are A Foot: Bathroom Remodel

I mentioned before that 2015 was going to bring plenty of changes and aside from a baby this is one of the bigger ones.

When The Husband and I purchased our home 2 years ago one of the biggest things that we had on our “to do” list was a bathroom remodel. As you can see in the below BEFORE image our bathroom was original to the 1954 house and the pink and green tile needed to go.

BEFORE: 

DURING #1:

DURING #2:

AFTER:

3 weeks later our bathroom was finished and both of us couldn’t be more pleased. Our Contractor was a breeze to work with and the finished product was more than I could have hoped for.

The tile is all right off the shelf from Lowe’s, the cabinets and the sink are from Ikea, the cast iron tub is from Home Depot, the toilet we reused and the brushed finished fixtures are from a mix of Lowe’s and Home Depot. Nothing high-end but goodness, it sure feel luxurious.

I still have to pinch myself because A) Nothing went awry and B) I can’t believe that this is our new bathroom!

Let’s look at those  two images side by side.

BEFORE                                                                          AFTER

I heard so many stories of remodels that have turned into a bigger project than expected that I’m thankful ours went so well. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

Yours Truly,

Mel


Fuel to Go Muffins

I’m a huge fan of breakfast on the go. In fact lately I’ve been drinking smoothies every morning because they’re easy and delicious but sometime I just want to eat my breakfast and not drink it through a straw.

Enter these Fuel to Go Muffins from Laureen of Art and the Kitchen. The other night I was feeling rather ambitious and after dinner I dug into my fruit and nut stash and tossed these together.

The recipe is easy to assemble in a couple of mixing bowls and is also great because it allowed you to tailor the ingredients to either A) what you have on hand or B) what you can or can’t eat and that’s a huge plus in my book. That’s not even taking into account the fact that these muffins are dense, packed full of all sorts of yumminess and will fend off the hunger monsters for a decent amount of time.

Now mix all your stuff together in stages (per the recipe). I think I added chia seeds, flax and wheat germ in addition to what it called for and omitted the sunflower seeds since I didn’t have any.

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3:

Next fill your muffin cups until they’re heaping and I mean really full.

Pop them in the oven and then they should look something like this.

Big, beautiful & moist breakfast muffins. Super tasty.

FYI, this recipe makes 12 muffins so if you have a lot of people in your house you might want to double it.

Yours Truly,

Mel


Happy 2015!

This year is going to be huge in so many ways for The Husband and I. Not only is my body going to experience a bunch of new changes as I move forward in my pregnancy but we’re going to be doing a bit of re-arranging at home to make room for a nursery and of course there’s the arrival of our new little baby!

Baking and crafting are going to take a back-seat for a while and my posts my slow down to a snails pace but hang in there. I’m told that the second trimester you feel more like yourself and I’m hoping that’s the case since I have quite to backlog of posts to do. Plus once the baby is here eventually they have to nap right? Although I’m told I may be napping right along side them.

Welcome 2015 and what an amazing year it’s going to be!

Yours Truly,

Mel


Christmas Recap

Hopefully you’re still on Holiday leave but if you’re like me and you’re back at work welcome back!

Our Christmas relatively low-key (for us) and for that I was very thankful. Now that my pregnancy is out in the open I’ve got to say that it’s a lot harder to get done all of the things I want to do in a day; I just seem to get so tired!

Even though we had four different celebrations to go to I did a relatively low amount of cooking and a lot of showing up and eating. Which was just fine by me.

Doesn’t that all look fantastic? My Mother-in-Law always puts quite the spread together for the holidays. Her pies are always homemade & quite delicious and don’t even get me started on her bread, I look forward to that stuff all year long.

I hope your holiday was both relaxing and enjoyable and spent just how you wanted it.

Yours Truly,

Mel