Tag Archives: semi-homemade

Spring break! Actually, banana pudding

22 Mar

I’m in a hotel room in New York right now, enjoying my first day of spring break (it’s a Saturday so we’ll see how good I am at not working during the week).  What a great day so far: breakfast at Frontera in the airport (the ORD location is much cheaper than the real one), lunch at Katsu-Hama (I try to always go when I’m in this city), and dinner at the very young (4.5 month old) Wallflower for fancy-pants date night.  Thought I’d take advantage of the time difference and blog.  Actually now I’m hungry… I’m going to go get some food and come back to this post later.

Sated!  Grabbed a late-night falafel.  I love travel-eating.  Eat-cation.  Speaking of non sequiturs, each week in my advisor’s secret seminar, the speaker from the week before brings treats, preferably homemade baked goods (you can guess who started this tradition…)  Two weeks ago, our new and fantastic postdoc brought in a big bowl of his mom’s banana pudding.  So of course I emailed him to ask for the recipe and figured I’d make it for this blog, especially since I still haven’t bought lots of baking supplies for the new place (like a mixer… we did get bowls for Christmas though!)  Despite how much I LOVED my last banana pudding post, and I recommend that one if you want to make banana pudding from scratch, Mama Hull’s recipe is ridiculously easy.  It’s hard to even call this semi-homemade… as Michael said, “slicing the bananas is what’ll take the most time.”

Va-ped-atin sounds like "something missing substance," per fiance.  Which is perfect, because those are all the letters missing from these to make real words (va-nilla, whip-ped cream, jell-atin).  Sorry if that didn't make sense, I'm feeling a little daze-y.

Va-ped-atin sounds like “something missing substance,” per fiance. Which is perfect, because those are all the letters missing from these to make real words (va-nilla, whip-ped cream, jell-atin). Sorry if that didn’t make sense, I’m feeling a little daze-y.

The directions for this recipe are basically: mix everything, slice bananas, layer with Nilla wafers.

20140317_211330 20140317_211406 20140317_211408 20140317_211631

I have actually never made instant pudding, so this was AMAZING to me!  You just whisk milk with the powder and it turns into pudding in like three minutes!  So crazy!!

Are you sure this is food?

Are you sure this is food?

I think I have had cool whip before in my home, as a kid.  I used to be REALLY into making elaborate jello parfaits for my family, layering different colors mixed with ice cream, fruit, or whipped cream.  When I was seven or so, someone in my family got me a set of parfait glasses for Christmas (I have a tendency of receiving kitchen gear for Christmas), and that spurred this phase where everyone had to pretend to like my creations.  Thank goodness that’s over!  (…I hope.)

Mix ALL the different and confusing textures!

Mix ALL the different and confusing textures!

Once you mix all the stuff, you really do have to take a long time to slice all the bananas!

The three phases of a dead banana's life: whole, peeled, sliced.  Not so appeeling, is it?

The three phases of a dead banana’s life: whole, peeled, sliced. Not so appeeling, is it?

At first I tried to slice the bananas in the banana peel and not use a cutting board, but it’s so much faster to cut six bananas on a cutting board.

Then layering time!  So pretty!  I, unsurprisingly, went a little dorky on it and made a smiley face out of Nilla wafers on top.  Michael’s looked much prettier with a circle of bananas on top and some crumbled wafers.

20140317_212241 20140317_212552 20140317_212917 20140317_213530 20140317_213837

This recipe makes enough to feed about 10 people who like banana pudding a lot, based on our dinner party and the leftovers the next day.  Just realized I failed at reading the recipe, which was literally two lines in an email.  Sigh.  Well, do whatever you like.  This is delicious!  Make sure you let it sit for a long time (I did overnight) so that the flavors meld and the Nilla wafers sort of melt into cake-like texture.

Yum!

Yum!

I have at least one friend!

I have at least one friend!

Mama Hull’s Banana Pudding, emailed from Michael Hull

1 large box (~5oz) vanilla instant pudding (I used two boxes of the 3.5 oz size)
2 2/3 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1 (8oz) container of cool whip
1 box nilla wafers
6 bananas
Mix pudding with milk; whisk for 2 min.
Add sour cream and cool whip and mix together.
Layer, in a large dish, nilla wafers, 1/2 sliced bananas, 1/2 pudding; repeat. (I made three layers)
Crumble wafers on top. (I didn’t read this and it still turned out okay!)
REFRIGERATE.  Best if left overnight, but a few hours is OK too.

 

 

 

Carrot cake in a mug

3 Sep

Yeup, it is still hot in Chicago, and yeup, I’m still not turning on my oven.  I refuse.  It was 80 degrees inside my house yesterday.  I will begrudgingly make a birthday cake my for my boyfriend this weekend, but it might be an ice-cream cake.

I’ve seen mug cakes around for awhile (chocolate cake in a mug, brownies in a mug, etc.), so I thought I’d try it.  Also I’d already had dessert last night (a delicious peach melba from Mindy’s Hot Chocolate), but I wanted to make this so I just made it for my roommate.  Still had leftover cream cheese frosting in a can from the last time I made something with cream cheese frosting in a can (I suspect the raw carrot cake?).  So that made an appearance as well.

Mug cakes are pretty easy.  Gather up your ingredients:

Good-looking mug shot, or greatest-looking mug shot?

Good-looking mug shot, or greatest-looking mug shot?

I like using banana in place of oil (also applesauce is good for this) and I like the flavor/moistness from banana.  So I mashed up the banana and beat the egg in the mug:

No magic here... afraid I'm just a Muggle.

No magic here… afraid I’m just a Muggle.

Then grate up the carrot (I used two baby carrots) and throw that in:

Holy moly, these kinds of graters are so great

Holy moly, these kinds of graters are so great

There's no need to be smug, you know you'd make this too

There’s no need to be smug, you know you’d make this too

Then add a bit of flour, sugar, spices, a pinch of baking soda, a bit of salt.  Add disproportionately lots of spices.

If you don't want anyone to know you're baking, a five-minute mug cake is a good way to smuggle in the habit

If you don’t want anyone to know you’re baking, a five-minute mug cake is a good way to smuggle in the habit

Then microwave for two minutes or until the sides pull away and it’s done (I did one minute, then another).

You either love it or hate it: it's hard to be a mugwump when it comes to these cakes

You either love it or hate it: it’s hard to be a mugwump when it comes to these cakes

I chucked it in the freezer for a few minutes, then cut it and frosted and decorated it.  Final result: more rubbery than regular cake, but still cake!  It tastes like it was made in a microwave, but also took very little time.  If you have an hour, just make a regular cake.  But this’ll do if you have five minutes.

P1010279

Carrot cake in a mug, adapted from Cassey Ho’s Blogilates recipe:

1 egg

1/3 banana

2 baby carrots

2 TB flour

2-3 tsp sugar, depending on how you like it.  2 gives more of a muffin flavor

pinch baking soda

1 tsp nutmeg+cinnamon

splash vanilla

Mash the banana, then beat in the egg.  Add grated carrots, all the other stuff, and mix.  Microwave for 1.5-2 minutes (depends on your microwave).  Cool (I used a freezer).  Frost and eat!

Shame on me II, flan edition

9 Aug

I love flan.  Always have.  When I was a little kid and we visited family in California, we always went to one particular Vietnamese bakery (that I still frequent).  My parents and siblings and cousins would get the more exotic (to me, yucky) chè with beans or bananas or sweet rice and coconut milk, and I would get the delicious bánh flan.  Its name makes zero sense to me now.  In French it’s called Crème caramel, and the Vietnamese version obviously was born from the French colonization (which also brought us Bánh mì (yes I am going crazy with the wikipedia links today, thank you very much).

Anyways, whatever you call it, the Vietnamese version has a few differences from the kind you’ll get in Latin America, Spain, or France.  It’s significantly less eggy and more jello-like and smooth.  I think it has more similarities to that delicious almond tofu jelly than to tres leches (which I think is more like the Spanish flan).  I’ve had plenty of homemade flan, but never the Vietnamese kind, despite many, many recipes on the internet (all of these words are a different link).

So it probably would’ve made sense for me to try to make the homemade one when I was back in California visiting my family this last weekend.  Especially with my mom there to help me.  But instead, shame on me, I just grabbed a box from my sister-in-law’s pantry and made it from the mix.

I hate photographing dairy products- I feel like they're never natural, always milking it for the camera

I hate photographing dairy products- I feel like they’re never natural, always milking it for the camera

This stuff from the mix is like a cross between Mexican and Vietnamese flans I’ve had: not as cool-as-a-cucumber as the Vietnamese kind, nor as hug-me-from-the-inside as the Mexican kind (I don’t know if other people feel that way with the rich eggy dessert at their local taqueria but that’s how I feel).

It’s also foolproof: note that it has two packets inside, the caramel sauce and the flan part.  You drizzle the caramel sauce in the bottom of your container (either eight ramekins or one big thing).  It doesn’t matter how terribly you do it, the heat from the flan mix will make the caramel spread out anyways.

If you see two people dancing, it means you're really good at finding images because I sure don't see them

If you see two people dancing, it means you’re really good at finding images because I sure don’t see them

Then heat up your quart of milk while whisking in the flan mix.  Stir it until it boils.

If it was Edward Sharpe and the Milky Zeroes, maybe the lyrics would go 'Foam, I'm gonna foam, foam is wherever I'm with you"

If it was Edward Sharpe and the Milky Zeroes, maybe the lyrics would go ‘Foam, I’m gonna foam, foam is wherever I’m with you”

Careful that it doesn’t boil over!  Then pour it in your prepared pan and let it chill in the fridge for an hour.

This pie pan is thinking how pi(e)tiful its contents are

This pie pan is thinking how pi(e)tiful its contents are

It’s prettier if you invert it on a plate, but if you’re just gonna eat it out of the container as you swig milk from the jug, just grab a spoon.  I’m just kidding I don’t swig milk from the jug.

2013-07-28_10-06-38_342 2013-07-28_10-06-51_132

Yeup, no frills and no excuses this time.  I was just lazy.  Shame on me.  If you are do make a flan from scratch, send me your recipe/tell me and I’ll do it too.  If not, Royal really is a good brand for this.

Post pour Pecan Pie por Plane!

22 May

I guess I cheated a bit on the title here, since “pour” and “por” are French and Spanish for “for”.  I just couldn’t resist the alliteration!

Anyways.  Apologies for not posting this last week.  Good news, I passed my prelim I took last week, the day after making the pie this post is about!  I’m taking another one tomorrow, and if I pass it too I’ll be done with big tests for a long time (maybe forever?  But we always think that and then people go do CFAs or random things like that).

I’ve always disliked pecan pie.  It’s bitter, the pecans are too hard, and it’s too heavily goopy- feels like my teeth are slowly rotting under the viscous syrup.  And then my friend Ellie (the one who organized the conference with me) gave me a slice of pecan pie for Pi Day (when I made the chess pie).  IT WAS INCREDIBLE.  So light and creamy, and the nutty bite of pecans perfectly offsets the gooeyness of the layer below.  There’s a bit less sugar in this pie than most, and she uses light Karo syrup which I think makes a huge difference.

If you make anything from this blog, this pie is in my top three recommendations (the others being the mushroom-burnt onion pate and the 1-ingredient chocolate mousse).  It’s simple, fast, and a huge crowd pleaser (I actually had some of this pie on Monday and then made it Wednesday).

Image

Seven ingredients, I guess nine if you count EGGSactly

It’s super easy: you just whip up your eggs, and then mix in all the other ingredients.  Oh PRO TIP (a la the brownies and foil thing): IF YOU DROP A PIECE OF EGGSHELL IN YOUR DOUGH, DO NOT PANIC.  Use the big piece of eggshell to pick it up!  It’s a little bit magical, explained here: Just kidding!  I tried to google it and could not find an explanation (let me know if you know why this works).  It’s like the big piece of eggshell attracts the little pieces.

Keep calm and bake on!

Keep calm and bake on!

I purposefully dropped a teeny bit of eggshell in this picture so you could see the next one, but I’m not so great at this whole taking pictures of a white speck floating in clear goop over another white background thing.

Don't mind me, just taking a quick dip in the gene pool (the white is where DNA is, I think) [This may be a lie I'm not a scientist]

Don’t mind me, just taking a quick dip in the gene pool (the white is where DNA is, I think) [This may be a lie I’m not a scientist]

So you whip up your eggs, put in your softened butter (I just popped a stick in the microwave for ten seconds until I could poke it like this:)

James Polk was from the south, so maybe he too had pecan pie.  Maybe he too poked some butter (seems ridiculously unlikely)

James Polk was from the south, so maybe he too had pecan pie. Maybe he too poked some butter (seems ridiculously unlikely)

Literally you need a bowl and a whisk and a measuring cup:

The Q and R trains in NYC are pretty reliable, but I always wonder: can P do it?  And then it shows up and I think Yes, PECAN

The Q and R trains in NYC are pretty reliable, but I always wonder: can P do it? And then it shows up and I think Yes, PECAN

Stick it all in your premade pie crust (or make the stupid easy pie crust from the chess pie), and toss in your oven.

I wonder if sushi is super popular in the capital of North Carolina.  Cuz, yknow, RAWleigh

I wonder if sushi is super popular in the capital of North Carolina. Cuz, yknow, RAWleigh

I’m really into poking in this post: the pie is done when you gently poke the top and it springs back.

2013-05-15_18-13-57_217

So easy!  SO DELICIOUS.

On a side note, you can bring pecan pie on a plane!  I was unsure how it’d go through security, but I wrapped it in foil, stuck it in a gallon freezer ziploc bag, and put it in my backpack.  Went through great!

My friend Shira, who also dislikes pecan pie, loved this one.  So make it!  Just writing about it makes me want to make it again: maybe next week!

 

Eleanor Reeves’ Pecan Pie (from my friend Ellie):

Beat:

3 eggs

Add:

1/4 c. soft margarine (or butter)
1 c. chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. light karo syrup
1/2 c. sugar

Mix, then pour into:

unbaked pie shell

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 10 min then at 350 degrees for 50 min.

 

 

Vegan carrot cake cupcakes

30 Apr

I brought in treats for seminar today.  Sometime soon I’ll do a math post, I promise!  But right now it’s time for vegan carrot cake cupcakes!

I was feeling way lazy last night and didn’t want to figure out how to make vegan cream cheese frosting/buy ingredients that would slowly go to waste like my coconut flour has.  So I bought the cream cheese flavored frosting in the plastic tin, which is so awful but is still frosting and is also vegan.  I think next time I’m feeling lazy I’ll just add more flour and maybe some pineapple to this recipe and make cookies instead.

Do was feeling lonely so he thought he'd try to hang out with the other notes on the scale.  He said "sup, re, me?"  But they were just like fa la la and ignored him.  It was sad.

Do was feeling lonely so he thought he’d try to hang out with the other notes on the scale. He said “sup, re, me?” But they were just like fa la la and ignored him. It was sad.

Anyways.  As usual, you’ll want to add your water to your flaxseed in a 2:1 ratio first to give the flaxseed time to soak it up and turn ‘eggy’.  The flaxseed bag says 3:1 and the recipe said 1:1 but I think 2:1 is the best.

Reflax, don't do it, when you want to go to it.  Guys I just looked up the lyrics to that song and its meaning.  I had NO IDEA.  Go look right now.

Reflax, don’t do it, when you want to go to it. Guys I just looked up the lyrics to that song and its meaning. I had NO IDEA. Go look right now.

Next, shred up all your carrots.  I hadn’t made carrot cake earlier because I didn’t have a food processor and I just find it so grating to grate carrots.  The grater attachment on the food processor works great!

Processing... processing...

Processing… processing…

I ended up cutting the recipe in half because I am way lazy and also own only one cupcake tin.  But as I write it below it makes about 18 cupcakes or an actual cake.

Mix up your dry ingredients: flour, spices, NOT SUGAR.  I like using a whisk because a beater will make all the flour turn into dust in the air, and a fork won’t get the baking soda/powder mixed in enough and you’ll eat a bite of your baked good and have a bit hit of baking soda and it will be awful.  I have done this many times because I don’t want to clean a whisk.

When you whisk upon a star, you're probably dead because they are very hot.

When you whisk upon a star, you’re probably dead because they are very hot.  But if you aren’t, I bet your goods bake instantly!

Then mix up your flax gel, oil, sugar, and then add the carrots and some vanilla.

The easiest thing you'll have to do in life is choosing to whisk it all or walk away.  I don't know why you would walk away because you're in the middle of baking right now.

The easiest thing you’ll have to do in life is choosing to whisk it all or walk away. I don’t know why you would walk away because you’re in the middle of baking right now.

You should care so much if these are in your cake or not.  Care it!

You should care so much if these are in your cake or not. Care it!

Mix up your batter (it’ll be wet), throw in some walnuts, and fill your cupcake cups about 2/3 full, or use around 1/4 c batter for each one.  I have a nonstick pan, or you can use liners, or you can grease and flour like we’ve done before.  Stick it in an oven for about 16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry.

These are more like 1/4 cup-cakes

These are more like 1/4 cup-cakes

Then put on your artificially flavored cardiac arrest-spread, I mean frosting, and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from hellyeahitsvegan because I can’t read:

Mix:

6 TB flaxseed meal

12 TB water

and let sit.  Grate 2 large carrots to make 2 c shredded carrots.

Then whisk together:

2 1/4 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1.5 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

.5 tsp each nutmeg, cloves, allspice (I like it spicy)

Separately, in a big bowl, mix:

1.5 c sugar

flaxseed gel you made earlier

1 c oil

Then add in your

2 c shredded carrots

1 tsp vanilla

And mix until moistened.  Add in your dry ingredients, mix until moistened, and finally throw in

1 c walnuts

Put about 1/4 c in each cupcake slot, until 2/3-3/4 full.  Then bake at 350 for 16-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Frost with whatever you’d like (I used store-bought frosting)

 

Oreo balls

24 Apr

Very quick post during the workday.  I made these last night for administrative professional’s day today (which no one knows about).  They’re delicious, super rich and addictive and absolutely horrible for you.  No baking involved- in fact, I used a plate, a plastic bag, and a meat tenderizer as my tools.  Plus there’s only three ingredients.

Three ingredients: cream cheese, chocolate, andeo.  Oops I mean OReo.

Three ingredients: cream cheese, chocolate, andeo. Oops I mean OReo.

First you throw your oreos in a plastic bag and crush them with a meat tenderizer/hammer/your hands.  You could also use a food processor or blender but who wants to clean those?  Unless you were ALSO making an oreo milkshake at the time…

If Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker were in my kitchen I wouldn't even need the mallet for this to be Crush Hour.

If Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker were in my kitchen I wouldn’t even need the mallet for this to be Crush Hour.

Next, plop your cream cheese into the bag and smoosh it around with your hands.  Again, this step could be done with a food processor, but smooshing is so much fun!

Don't stop make it plop DJ pour that cream cheese in

Don’t stop make it plop DJ pour that cream cheese in

Would a basketball-playing cow yell SMOOOOOOOOOSH when hitting nothing but net?

Would a basketball-playing cow yell SMOOOOOOOOOSH when hitting nothing but net?

Then roll the resulting mixture into sticky balls, about an inch in diameter, and throw them in the freezer for a few minutes (I ate an artichoke in this time and it seemed about right).

You guys I'm having such a good time making these.  You might even say I'm HAVING A BALL

You guys I’m having such a good time making these. You might even say I’m HAVING A BALL

Meanwhile, melt your chocolate.  I used Baker’s semisweet because that’s what Kraft said to do, but anything will do: dark, white, whatever.  It’s so easy to melt too: 30 seconds in the microwave, stir, 30 more seconds, stir.  When it comes out after the second 30 seconds it’ll still be in those soft bricks, but just stir and the residual heat will melt it.

I think it's been winter for too long: I'm going a little STIR crazy

I think it’s been winter for too long: I’m going a little STIR crazy

Then roll your frozen oreo balls around in the chocolate, and throw them on some parchment paper to set.  I also sprinkled some of mine with coconut.

I used a shallow bowl here, but if Adele were around I'd use a deeper one.  Ah, we could have had it all.

I used a shallow bowl here, but if Adele were around I’d use a deeper one. Ah, we could have had it all.

Let's think of champagne as 'troubled water.'  Then these guys seem like a great thing to lay down in a fridge of troubled water

Let’s think of champagne as ‘troubled water.’ Then these guys seem like a great thing to lay down in a fridge of troubled water

They’re ready to eat as soon as you want to eat them, though Kraft says to do it after an hour.  THESE ARE SO DELICIOUS and so bad for you.  There’s nothing good in them.  And that’s why they’re so good.

2013-04-23_23-05-37_226

 

“Recipe” adapted from the official Kraft one which looks like too much cream cheese:

Crush 28 Oreos in a plastic bag with a meat tenderizer/hammer/heavy bottle.  Some people use hand mixers/food processors.

Smoosh in 4-6 oz cream cheese to your taste (I had some leftover from bagels so I’m not sure how much I used)

Form 1 inch balls and freeze for 10 minutes

Melt 6 oz semi-sweet or white chocolate, and roll each ball in the chocolate.  Lay out on parchment paper.

Refrigerate for an hour or as long as you want to.

There’s a reason they say “Pop!” goes the weasel

8 Jan

Welcome home to me!  Tomorrow I’m going to bake to celebrate my return to Chicago.  But tonight I’m going to blog about a sad, dark thing I did while at my brother and sister-in-law’s house.  

Why do I hate cake pops, while I generally love cute things?  One, because they’re trying too hard to be cute.  Seeing really intensely decorated cake pops, like those found here, here, and here, makes me feel the same way as seeing really intensely make-upped girls: sort of sad.  Cake pops are often tasty, since they’re just cake mixed with frosting dipped in something else, and when they’re simple as they were when the craze began in 2008, I like them.  Just like I like cute girls (not sexually, just aesthetically).  But something goes wrong when you start focusing more on how a thing looks and less on how it tastes: form over function.  And that’s where my adventure last week led me.

Image   

To be fair, I am not very good at focusing on and improving looks.  I don’t wear makeup, my mom long ago gave up on asking me to hang pictures or buy pillows or accent rugs, and my food is never presented prettily.  Maybe if I’d been raised in a family that focused more on appearances, I would appreciate the cake pop and all the time and eye that they require.  But my mom’s food is always pretty (she’s one of those people who puts a sprig of cilantro just so on your plate, like at restaurants), so that’s a moot point.  Anyway.  Onto baking!

Image

So far so good, we have a box of cake mix and the ingredients it requires: three eggs, a cup of water, some oil.  I chose carrot cake for no clear reason.  Traditionally, cake balls are made from leftover stale cake which you crumble up and mix with frosting, then dip in chocolate or something else.  Bakerella (link up above) stuck a stick in a ball and voila, the cake pop was born.  Most recipes I’ve seen don’t care about what kind of cake you use, and the trend seems to be use cake mix.  Hence:

ImageThat was the action shot.  

For Christmas, my brother’s fiancee’s mom gave us all ‘babycakes’ makers.  These make no sense to me.  For instance:

ImageThis cupcake maker takes something like 5 minutes to make cupcakes, but you can only make six at a time, so you’ll have to divide your recipe by 4 or keep pouring, waiting, taking out, cleaning, pouring, etc.  Versus if you just make a batch of cupcakes, it’ll take the same 20 minutes to bake all 24. 

I got sidetracked again by annoyance.  Sorry.  Here’s the machine that I used:ImageThe instruction manual suggested a tablespoon of batter for each hole.  So I tried…   ImageSo far so good, but then it quickly becomes apparent that one tablespoon is far too much:ImageThe problem is that the first cake balls start cooking and expanding as you’re measuring the next ones, and it’s all so fast and frustrating and confusing and you get upset and then slam the lid down as soon as you’ve finished measuring them all out.  And then hot batter spatters and it’s all a mess and you hate pseudo-cake pops and really you probably even like real cake pops.

ImageSo as you wait for five minutes while in this state of frenzied frustration, you decide you don’t have the patience to make more cake pops and just pour batter into cupcake tins (real cupcakes, not another infuriating countertop-taker-upper).  Always remember to fill these guys get about 2/3 full, since they’ll rise.Image

Back to the ridiculousness.  A photo essay of absurdity:

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

%d bloggers like this: