A Twist on Tradition – Mango Ginger Hand Pies

Hand pies seem to be all the rage lately, which is no surprise. I mean, just look at them! They are super cute and delicious! But because I like to shake up things and put twists on traditional desserts, I didn’t want to make the classical flavors of apple, cherry, or peach for my hand pies.

Instead, I decided to make mango ginger hand pies, drawing inspiration from a food truck I found in Austin that sold empanadas. One of the more exotic flavors was the mango and ginger empanada. I never tried it, but it sounded so delicious.

I followed the general directions of this recipe for peach and ginger hand pies from The Kitchn. However, I cheated a little by using store-bought pie crust. I encourage you to make homemade pie crust if you have time. It’s actually quite easy and fun, especially when you have to cut the butter into the flour. I modified the filling a little by adding in chopped candied ginger to amplify the ginger flavor. (But I left out the fresh ginger since I didn’t have any on hand). Depending on how much you like ginger, you can add a little or lot, or omit it all together.

So tiny and cute! They fit in the palm of your hand!

The most fun part of this recipe is making the little hand pies. Just cut out circles, fill them with the mango filling, and press and crimp the edges together. But be careful to not overfill them, which is very easy to do.

Filled, crimped, egg washed, and ready for the oven!

I baked these mango hand pies for my friends for dessert after dinner one night. I was actually really surprised they gobbled up all of the hand pies so quickly and exclaimed how delicious they were. To be honest, I was a little worried my friends might not like them since 1) I thought I had put in a little too much ginger and 2) no one had ever made this recipe before (or at least, no one had posted this specific recipe online).

Freshly baked mango hand pies!

Although my products don’t often turn out the same as those I see on food blogs, it’s reassuring to know that at least someone out there has successfully made the recipe at one point. But when you make up a recipe, you have no way of knowing how good it’ll be until you eat it. It gives me more appreciation for all of the people who write cookbooks. They must spend hours just troubleshooting recipes. Just like I am with my synthesis procedure for nanoparticles, which I can tell you from personal experience, is really a lot of hard work. I suppose the only difference between me and the cookbook authors is that their products aren’t toxic. 😛

Oh, and their products are much prettier and cuter, just like this little mango hand pie.

Mango and Ginger Hand Pies
Adapted from The Kitchn

1 pie crust (homemade or store bought)
2 ripe mangoes
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or use candied or crystallized ginger instead)
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg plus water for egg wash
Extra sugar for sprinkling

1. Make pie dough from scratch or buy pie dough from the store (I used Trader Joe’s)
2. Peel and chop up the mangoes into small pieces. Mix the mangoes, sugar, ginger and flour. Let macerate for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the pie crusts.
3. Roll the pie dough out to 1/4 inches thick. Cut out small disks of dough using a biscuit cutter or a glass cup.
4. Fill each disk with the mango filling. Brush the edges of the disk with egg wash and press the edges together.
5. Place the pie onto a greased baking sheet and crimp the edges with a fork. Using scissors or a knife, cut three small slits on the top of each pie.
6. Chill the pies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. When ready to bake, brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle the top with sugar.
7. Bake the hand pies at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned.
8. Cool the pies for 10 minutes, then devour!

Advertisements

Berekeley’s Best Pizza – Now Made in my Kitchen

The perfect dinner: Cheeseboard Pizza

If you ever visit Berkeley and ask about a good place to eat pizza, everyone will tell you to go to Cheeseboard. It’s a cooperative pizza shop that sells a different vegetarian pizza every day, but only sells one kind of pizza each day. They’ll sell you any amount you want, from one slice to half a pizza to a whole pizza. (And they always give you an extra small slice!) Now, their pizzas are definitely not ordinary pizzas. All of Cheeseboard’s pizzas are white pizzas. So, they have no tomato sauce and are brushed with garlic olive oil and topped with cheese instead. However, it’s the (sometimes crazy) combination of high-quality toppings that make their pizzas so awesome.

Cheeseboard’s famous corn pizza

Some of the more interesting pizzas they offer include one topped with figs, arugula, and blue cheese and one topped with peaches. Since I absolutely love figs, I had to try the fig pizza. However, despite being a bonafide fig lover, it was a little too weird for me.

Cheeseboard’s best pizza, in my opinion, is the famous corn, lime, cilantro pizza. They usually sell it once a week and the line is considerably much longer on that day. Now, corn pizza may sound a bit weird, but it’s absolutely delicious! The corn is sweet, which contrasts nicely with the saltiness of the feta cheese. The best part is the squeeze of lime on top, which brightens up the flavors of all the ingredients.

Our own pizza creation

Although all of their pizzas are delicious, I usually only like going to Cheeseboard for the corn pizza. Since we had a little craving for pizza, but didn’t want the one that Cheeseboard offered that day, my friends and I decided to make our own. Inspired by our favorite Cheeseboard pizza, we made our own corn, cilantro, and lime pizza. It was just as delicious as Cheeseboard’s! Another pizza we made was topped with barbecue sauce, red onions, corn, and chicken. This one was so tasty! The sweet and tangy barbecue sauce worked great with the chicken, onions, and corn.

Even though it’s super easy to just call your favorite pizza place and have them deliver you a pizza, it’s way more fun making your own. The pizza dough is so easy to make and you can top your pizza with any topping you want. No extra charge! Now I don’t have to wait in Cheeseboard’s extremely long line that’s out the door and around the corner since I can just make delicious pizza at home. 🙂

Pizza Dough
Adapted from allrecipes Amazing Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour

1. Proof the yeast by dissolving 1 tsp of sugar in warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should become foamy.
2. Once the yeast is foamy, add the oil.
3. Mix together the 2 cups of whole wheat flour and salt.
4. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir to combine. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of bread flour as needed.
5. Knead the dough on a well-floured surface until the dough becomes smooth. Add more flour if necessary.
6. Place dough in oiled bowl and coat dough with oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour).
7. Punch down dough and reshape into a ball. Let rise for another 45 minutes.
8. Sprinkle a pizza pan or cookie sheet with cornmeal.
9. Divide dough into number of pizzas you want to make. Roll dough onto the pizza pan or cookie sheet. Depending on your crust preference, you can roll the dough pretty thin (for a crispier crust) or leave it fairly thick (for a more fluffy crust).

BBQ Corn and Chicken Pizza
1. Roll pizza dough onto baking sheet covered in cornmeal.
2. Spread barbecue sauce onto the crust and top with grated cheese. You can use whatever cheese you have on hand. We only had gouda. 😛
3. Top the pizza with corn, chicken, and red onions.
4. Bake the pizza at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.
5. Cool the pizza for 5 minutes and cut into slices.

Cheeseboard’s Famous Corn, Cilantro, and Lime Pizza
1. Roll pizza dough onto baking sheet covered in cornmeal.
2. Spread garlic olive oil (minced garlic mixed with olive oil) all over the dough and top with shredded mozzarella.
3. Top the pizza with corn, feta cheese crumbles, and cilantro.
4. Bake the pizza at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.
5. Cool the pizza for 5 minutes and cut into slices. Right before eating, squeeze lime juice on top (you won’t regret it!)

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Nailing it on Pinterest – Sweet Sweet Potatoes

The most popular, most liked, and most pinned pin on my Pinterest board is this recipe for White Sweet Potatoes with Mirin and Honey from Bon Appetit. It’s a bit shocking to me that over 150 people have some how found my pin and repinned it. I mean, these potatoes do look delicious, but I didn’t think they looked THAT delicious.

I had always wanted to try this recipe, but since so many people have taken an interest in it, I decided that I really ought to try it out. So, I bought white sweet potatoes one day and tried to follow the recipe. Per instructions, I microwaved the potatoes and let them steam in a glass bowl. That’s where it started going downhill. The skins didn’t fall off easily like the recipe said they would. So instead, I had to cut off the skins, which was pretty difficult since the potatoes were rather mushy from steaming. I managed to get some rounds, coated them with the glaze, and baked them in the oven. But I wasn’t able to achieve the same degree of caramelization. Maybe it was because I used a baking sheet instead of a cast iron skillet? Anyways, the potatoes tasted good, but they definitely did not look as good as those in the picture.

A few weeks later, I decided to try again, but this time with orange yams. I modified the recipe by peeling the potatoes first and then slicing them into rounds. I placed them on a baking sheet to roast for 15 minutes and then coated them in the glaze. This time, I placed them in a glass pie pan and baked them. The potatoes seemed a bit more caramelized and looked a bit more like the picture. However, I thought they were a little too sweet.

These potatoes went well with my Asian-themed dinner of miso glazed cod on a bed of brown rice and sauteed shiitake mushrooms with kale. However, I don’t think they were really as good as they look from the recipe. And they definitely were not worthy of having 150+ people repinning the recipe. But that might be due to my poor execution since Jen from use real butter made amazing looking potatoes.  Oh well, maybe the third time is the charm? At least I tried something from Pinterest, even though I didn’t exactly nail it. 😛

Trying new things – Strawberry and Cream Cheese Biscuits and Scones

Ever since eating my Southern friend’s biscuits, I’ve always wanted to try to make them. However, I like to put twists on traditional dishes/recipes, so I decided to add strawberries and cream cheese to spice up the traditional biscuit.

I mainly followed Deb’s recipe for strawberry and cream biscuits, but wanting to live up to the name more, I added chunks of cream cheese into the batter.

My biscuits didn’t turn out that fluffy, possibly because of my biscuit cutting technique and the lack of shortening. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter, so I used a glass instead. People advise only pressing down into the dough; however, my glass wasn’t sharp enough to actually cut the dough, so I ended up twisting the glass a little. I know, I know, I committed a biscuit sin! I’m not exactly sure how to get really soft and fluffy biscuits, so if you have any tips, please let me know!

I may also have not kneaded the dough enough. Deb cautioned against mixing the dough too much; however, I may have taken that advice a little too far. My dough was very soft and didn’t hold its shape as well as bread dough does.

The biscuits seemed to puff up a little in the over, but deflated a bit after I took them out. Now, the biscuits weren’t hard, but they definitely were not very flaky and fluffy. I’d say they were more of a cross between biscuits and cookies.

               

Cute little biscuits with chunks of the cream cheese and strawberries!

Getting a little tired of tediously cutting out circles of dough, I decided to make the rest into scones. I just rolled the remaining dough into a circle, patted it down slightly, and cut it into eight triangles. I think the texture of the dough fit the scones a little better; however, these scones were not as crumbly as store-bought scones. The problem may have been that I cut the butter too much into the flour since I had smaller than the advised “pea sized” balls of butter.

Although my first attempt at biscuits and scones wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, the products were still delicious. I will (rather unwillingly) admit that I ate all of the scones throughout the week. The small size of the scone made it the perfect snack or sweet addition to breakfast.

I took the biscuits to a barbecue, where they quickly vanished within 30 minutes of opening the container. Either they were extremely delicious or people were so ravenous that no one noticed their failures as biscuits. These biscuits are the perfect example of my theory that as long as you don’t burn whatever you’re baking, it’ll taste good. After all, baked goods are just mixtures of butter, sugar, and flour. Since that combination is so delicious, even if you mess up the recipe, you’ll still end up with a pretty tasty result. Messing up really only changes the texture of the baked good anyways. So, on that note, don’t be afraid to try baking. It’s pretty forgiving and usually, you’ll end up with a yummy product (assuming you didn’t burn it :P).

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Restaurant Review – Tacubaya

I’ve been reading Jen’s blog, use real butter, for nearly five years now. Whenever I wanted a break from studying in college, I’d look up her blog to read about her new adventures and drool over her amazing food photographs. Her kickass attitude and triumphant battle with cancer has inspired me to be a strong, independent woman like her.

So, when I saw her post about Tacubaya in Berkeley a few years ago, I vowed to myself that I’d go there someday, not knowing (but hoping!) I’d eventually be going to Berkeley for grad school. It took me almost a year to get my butt down there, but I finally paid the taqueria a visit after getting a pedicure on Fourth St. (It’s definitely not your hole-in-the-wall taco joint like the ones in the Mission or the taco trucks in Oakland, probably because it wouldn’t fit in with the classier, more posh part of Berkeley that is Fourth St.)

Despite having grown up in New Mexico, I am rather loath to eating Mexican food (although New Mexicans make a clear distinction between Mexican and New Mexican food). Perhaps growing up surrounded by tacos, burritos, and enchiladas (which I still cannot eat to this day after rather unappetizing versions served for school lunch) has dampened by desire for Mexican cuisine.

Tacubaya was much different than most Mexican restaurants I’ve been too. The food was very fresh, crisp, and surprisingly light. A lot of Mexican dishes can be heavy, loaded with beans, rice, or potatoes. It was actually quite refreshing eating the food at Tacubaya.

They offer a wide variety of tacos, from the traditional taco al pastor to the more exotic taco de lengua. Intrigued by the tongue taco, I knew I had to order it. The pieces of beef tongue were pretty moist and juicy, not as chewy as I would have guessed. However, I couldn’t think about what I was eating too much because the thought of eating a tongue did gross me out a bit. The taco was very light and refreshing, just what I’d want from a taco. If you’re ever in Berkeley, definitely check out Tacubaya on Fourth St! I know, why would you go to the Bay Area for Mexican food? But trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Easier than braiding hair – Braided Lemon Bread

The second I saw this recipe for braided lemon bread from Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make it someday. I filed it away in my brain and waited for the opportune moment. So when I made too much lemon curd for the brioche crescent rolls, I secretly did this:

What I love about this recipe is that it’s so straightforward and easy yet yields a final product that is so intricately beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that everyone will believe that this braid was store-bought instead of homemade. For example, when I delivered the bread to my friends, they were all so impressed by it and were convinced that I had bought it rather than made it. I felt a little bad accepting their praises since it really was super easy to make.

Despite looking complicated to make, this bread is actually extremely simple. So much easier than french braiding hair, which I still can’t do. 😛 All you have to do is cut the sides into strips and alternately lay them over each other. Easy, right? Following Deb’s step-by-step photos doesn’t hurt either.

What’s also great about this recipe is that you can make the braid ahead of time, and then bake it right before you’re ready to serve it. I made the dough and braid the night before, then baked it the next morning, so it was nice and fresh for breakfast.

This bread is really delicious – my friends gobbled it up within 30 minutes. The soft, fluffiness of the bread is complemented with the tartness of the lemon curd. Since I didn’t have pearl sugar (I really need to invest in it, so I can make Liege waffles!), I sifted powder sugar on top. However, the cream cheese is rather unnoticeable. In fact, my brother couldn’t even taste it when he ate it. So I’d either increase the cream cheese filling or leave it out completely. The latter is probably better since the flavor of the lemon curd overpowers the cream cheese anyways. You could also exchange the lemon curd with any kind of curd or jam. I think raspberry jam would be a delicious alternative.

If you’re looking for a recipe to impress friends with, this is it. This lemon braid is perfect to bring to a brunch, like Deb did, or as a dessert to a dinner party. When your friends and family see this bread, they’ll praise you for your master baking skills and you’ll smile and say thanks, knowing that it was actually incredibly easy to make.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

A Berry Good July 4th – Mixed Berry Cupcake/Muffins

For July 4th, I decided to skip baking a traditional flag cake and the non-traditional hidden flag cake, even though Pinterest was flooded with them (as Deb from smitten kitchen duly noted). Besides my housemate ended up baking one and our kitchen is definitely not big enough for two flag cakes. So instead, I decided to bake berry cupcakes since I had a tub of expiring sour cream and a bag of frozen berries sitting in the freezer.

Creaming the butter and sugar

Now, I’m not sure if these exactly classify as cupcakes since they looked like muffins. I like to think they were cupcakes since I creamed the butter and sugar and added each egg one at a time. Usually, I think of muffins as  the “mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry ingredients, and then add the dry to the wet” kind of recipe whereas cupcakes are more of the “cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, then alternately add the flour and milk” type. It makes sense since creaming the butter and sugar lightens the batter and makes the final product more fluffy. This is probably why muffins are much denser than cupcakes. But don’t quote me, I’m no expert on cupcakes or muffins. I usually just do what the recipe tells me.

Mixing in the frozen berries

The original recipe was for lemon cream cupcakes, but I modified it by adding in frozen mixed berries at the end. No need to thaw the berries, in fact that’ll result in berry juice instead of actual berries. Also, try not to mix the berries too much since that’ll break them up.

All ready for the oven

I noticed that while baking in the oven, the cupcakes rose quite a bit and then deflated after I took them out. Not sure how to prevent deflation yet. I remember seeing a tip on Pinterest about baking them at a lower temperature, but I have yet to try that.

Since I hate to waste leftovers, I frosted the cupcakes with leftover lime buttercream frosting (the one from the margarita cupcakes). These cupcakes are pretty sweet already and didn’t really need the frosting. So I’d recommend just sifting some powdered sugar on top instead of frosting them (especially with old frosting). Plus, without the frosting, you’ll be able to see the bright colors of the cupcakes!

    

Unfrosted cupcake vs. Frosted cupcake

(And you can paint your nails red to match them… not like I intentionally did that…    Or you can just patriotically paint your nails!)

I brought these cupcake/muffins to a Fourth of July BBQ and they were devoured pretty quickly. What’s nice about this recipe is that it’s not just strictly for a special holiday, like those flag cakes. You can make these muffin/cupcakes for any kind of party/BBQ or even for breakfast or dessert!

Mixed Berry Cupcakes/Muffins
Adapted from allrecipes

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
Zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream
1 bag of frozen mixed berries (or whatever berries you want)

1. Cream the butter and sugar.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla.
4. Combine the dry ingredients.
5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream to the creamed butter mixture.
6. Fold in the frozen berries.
7. Fill a paper-lined muffin tin with batter (each one 1/2 or 3/4 full of batter).
8. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes.
9. Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
10. Sift powdered sugar on top or frost with your favorite frosting (a lemon buttercream or cream cheese frosting would go well with these cupcakes).
11. Paint your nails to match the berries in the cupcakes and enjoy!

Restaurant Review: Momofuku Noodle Bar

I recently visited New York City and one of the top places to visit was Momofuku. Having heard so much praise for David Chang’s restaurant, I made sure to eat there at least once. Last Monday, I visited the Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village for lunch with a friend.

Because one of the most talked about dishes served at Momofuku is the pork buns, I knew I had to try them. An order comes with two fluffy white buns filled with a large slab of pork belly, hoisin sauce, scallions, and pickled cucumbers. When I first saw them, I was a bit shocked at how much fat was in the pork belly. I know that’s the best part, but for me, a thick layer of fat was not really that appetizing. Although the fat was buttery and melted in my mouth, I had a hard time eating all of it and felt there wasn’t enough flavor in the meat. The buns could definitely have used more sauce and more pickles, which were a nice way to cut the richness of the fatty pork belly. Don’t get me wrong, the pork buns were good, just not as good as I had imagined from people’s raving reviews.

My friend and I ordered the Momofuku ramen to share, and I’m glad we did. The ramen comes in a huge bowl and was more than enough for the both of us. The broth was a bit salty for my taste and had a slight bitterness. My friend suspected it came from seaweed, which makes sense since dashi, which is a traditional Japanese cooking stock made from kombu (dried seaweed), is usually the base for ramen broth. The ramen noodles were a bit more springy than those I’ve eaten before, almost as if they weren’t cooked enough. The springiness made it a bit harder to chew the noodles, but I suppose I’d rather have springy noodles instead of soggy ones. Another unusual thing about this ramen was that it had a poached egg instead of a soft-boiled or hard-boiled egg, which is commonly found in ramen. Neither of us understood why a poached egg would be served because when we split it open, all of the yolk spilled out into the soup. Although the egg yolk did make the broth taste better in my opinion, it didn’t really make sense to have a runny egg in soup.

Now, I’m probably being a bit more critical than I ought to be. Don’t get me wrong, the food was pretty good and the service was great. But I was expecting a bit more out of Momofuku. I’m sure it was really good when it first started, which is why it probably earned so many accolades. But now, all of those reviews have built up the expectations for Momofuku to be so high that it’s difficult for it to continue to amaze diners. At least, that’s one of my theories. What should probably be praised more than the food is the fact that Momofuku and David Chang reinvented traditional Asian dishes and brought them into the spotlight again. He’s helped mainstream pork buns and ramen  and thanks to him, people think of ramen as being more than just instant noodles.

Ready to Party – Margarita Cupcakes

Despite going to a huge party school and one in Texas, I wasn’t much of a drinker… until I turned 21. Lucky for me, I lived in one of the best cities to party. Austin is notoriously known for drinking, probably because it has 6th Street, a huge street lined with bars and clubs. It’s tradition to celebrate your 21st birthday downtown, hopping from bar to bar to get your free birthday shot. The ultimate goal is to drink 21 shots, which rarely happens. I’m quite the lightweight and suffer from asian glow, so on my 21st, I was only able to handle a measly 3 shots.

The famous Mexican Martini from Trudy’s

Another great birthday tradition is getting a famous Mexican Martini at Trudy’s… for FREE! A mix between a martini and a margarita, the Mexican Martini (aka Mexi-Mart) was notoriously strong, so strong that they limit you to only two per night. Don’t worry though, one drink is a full shaker, so it’s more than enough. And be careful because Mexi-Marts are known to sneak up on people. So if you’re ever thinking of going to Austin, you should definitely stop by Trudy’s.

Feeling a bit homesick for Austin and those margaritas, I made these margarita cupcakes using this recipe from Browneyed Baker since it had the most alcohol. 😉 However, even though it calls for several tablespoons of tequila, I had a hard time tasting the alcohol. But then again, if you’re wanting alcohol, you should probably just take a shot instead of eating a cupcake. 😛

These cupcakes were absolutely delicious! I made them for a party and everyone else seemed to agree. I’m not sure if they really tasted like a margarita, but there was definitely a strong lime flavor, which may have masked some of the tequila flavor. That was probably my fault in adding too much lime zest and juice to the frosting. Apparently, I have a heavy hand. 😛

Even though they may not have tasted like margaritas, you could definitely whip one up for yourself while making them. In fact, while pouring out tablespoons of tequila, I secretly wanted to pour myself a shot. Shh… don’t tell anyone.

Margarita Cupcakes
Adapted from Browneyed Baker (I doubled her recipe)

For the Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 3 limes
4 tablespoons tequila (or more!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (I used sour cream instead)

To Brush the Cupcakes:
1-2 tablespoons tequila (I didn’t measure because more tequila the better! jk)

For the Tequila-Lime Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila
Pinch of coarse salt (I forgot this)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
4. Add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together, power on!) She was right! It looked gross, but came together at the end.
6. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.
7. Pour the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden.
8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.
9. To make the frosting, whip the butter for 5 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Add the lime juice, tequila and salt mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of salt and a lime wedge.


City Girl

View from Empire State Building

I think I’ve always been a city girl at heart, despite not having grown up in a large city. Although I do enjoy the serenity and tranquility of nature, I am truly satisfied by the hustle and bustle of a metropolis. So when I was planning my short vacation for the summer, I knew I had to visit the largest, most famous city in America: New York City.

View from Bryant Park

I’ve only visited NYC once before, when I was ten years old, which was before 9/11. So, I’ve been way overdue for a visit. My family went two years ago, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to join them since I had just started a summer internship at Stanford. But this year, I decided that I was finally going to visit the city that never sleeps.

Times Square

Since I hadn’t visited New York City in over ten years, I made a fairly long list of things I wanted to see, which consisted of mostly tourist destinations. I only had three days to cram them all in, so each day was packed with running around the city, visiting New York City’s most famous sights. Luckily, I’m the type of person who enjoys doing things all the time at a fairly fast pace. I hate waiting around and wasting time (so much that I can’t stand waiting at bus stops… which often results in me walking to the next stop and then watching the bus pass me by. -_-). In fact, I consider it a good day when my feet are sore and swollen from walking around the whole day. Because of this, I didn’t have too much of a problem seeing everything I wanted to see.

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

I made the standard NYC tourist stops, including Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MOMA, Wall St., and Empire State Building.

Wall Street

The steps of the Met

Inside the Empire State Building

I also visited the Highline Park (an urban elevated park that stretches for about 10 blocks along 10th avenue), the NY Botanical Gardens (which is having an exhibition on Monet’s gardens right now, so beautiful!), and Chelsea Market (almost equivalent to the Ferry Building in SF).

View from the Highline Park

NY Botanical Gardens Conservatory

Chelsea Market 

If you’re visiting the city, I highly suggest taking the Staten Island Ferry, which takes you from Manhattan to Staten Island in just under 30 minutes. It’s a beautiful ride with great views of the city as well as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The best part is that it’s FREE! I didn’t get off and explore Staten Island, which I’ve heard is kinda boring, and instead just hopped back onto the next ferry going back to the city.

Staten Island Ferry and the Statue of Liberty

I also highly recommend visiting the 9/11 Memorial. It’s a truly poignant spot to reflect and remember the lives lost that fateful day. Since I haven’t lived through many historical events, I haven’t felt the gravity and sobering effect of memorials… until I visited the 9/11 Memorial. I couldn’t bring myself take a picture of me standing in the memorial because I knew the pain and sorrow of 9/11 since it was an event that I had actually lived through, rather than one I had just read about in history books. Although it had such a solemn effect on me, the memorial was absolutely beautiful and helped remind me to be thankful for each day of my life.

Overall, I’d say my trip to The Big Apple was a success! I saw the sights and bright lights of the city that so many people, including myself, love. What I love best about New York is that there is always something to do or something to see. The city moves at the speed of light and has new experiences waiting for you at every corner. Consisting of a mix of wandering tourists and brusque locals, the city has a little something for everyone.