Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Card

I made this card based on a design from the Outlines Stamp Gallery. I went back to find the link but I cannot find it anymore. The original card has similar design - with the stamp image being stamped twice, and the different components are cut out. I've made a slight modification by matting all of the components to make them 'pop' a little more. I've also turned the direction of the hearts inward and added the inking and distressing.

This is also my first time using Distress embossing powder. Although I have almost destroyed a corner of my living room carpet, the result came out quite well. I love the subtlety of the colours and the texture.

Next time, I just have to remember putting a heat resistant mat over the carpet before I use the heat gun.

Supplies List:
Outlines Stamp E-234 Inspiration Square Lg. 1
DCWV Luxury Mat Stack
Recollections silver cardstock
Brown cardstock
Rangers Distress embossing powder

Cats Eye azure ink

Valentine's Day Project

I wanted to make something 'sweet' for my little helpers.. besides those baked goods. I came across this beautiful sparkly ribbon that was on sale at Michael's and got an idea. Why not make something sweet with this ribbon that reminds me of frosting or icing?

I also needed a gift bag for the little puppy keychains I bought for my sweet ones. A while back, I was very excited to find a Sizzix XL die for making takeout boxes, and got even more excited when Cuttlebug came out with this new extended cutting pad that will allow users to use Sizzix XL die. I decided to make a gift box out of the takeout box. The die makes one half of the box only, so I had to run another strip of paper through again to make the other half. I also trimmed the top of one of the halves to make the top close easily.

I used a tape runner for gluing the box together, and it was not strong enough. A wet glue would work better in this case... or a couple of glue dots might do the trick. As for decorations, I used more stickers on one of the boxes, and used the Sizzix 3-D flower die to make the roses on the other box. The Imaginisce petal roller tool helped me roll up the petals easily to form the rose.

I hope my kids love these sweet treats.

Supplies List
Pink cardstock
Pink Stickles
Jolee's Boutique Valentine's stickers

Take-out box:
Pink cardstock
Sizzix XL takeout box die
Sizzix Bigz 3-D flower die
Cuttlebug with extended cutting pad
Jolee's Boutique Valentine's stickers
Pink Stickles

Happy Valentine's Day!

As usual, we celebrated Valentine's day with.. more food! We baked some cupcakes and my little helpers helped with the sprinkles. That was for breakfast... I know.. once a year they get to do this wild thing. I guess my justification is that they will be loaded up with sugar at school anyways.

As for dinner, I had to work so I made something simple - ribs, cornbread, mashed potatoes. I surprised everyone with the chocolate dipped fruit (strawberries and organic apple slices from Costco) .. and yes, I delegated the cleaning (especially the pot that was used to melt the chocolate) to my dearest hubby. :) It was a sweet day for sure!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Made with Love

Valentine's day is on Monday, so I decided to do something for my loved ones. My whole family is in love with the wonderful pineapple buns ... and I thought to myself: wouldn't it be wonderful to know how to make them in addition to the cupcakes that I make every year? I made a note to myself to attend a bun baking class next time I'm in HK.

It just so happens I saw Christine's new blog post on Facebook:
As usual, her recipes are accurate and easy to follow, so I decided to give it a try. I know right off I was going to ignore the ammonia powder. I've read somewhere about the 'manual scoring' technique, so I decided to do that instead.

The key to making this bread is the 'tangzhong'. I've found this very useful article about 65C 湯種甜麵糰 from another wonderful blog, Corner Cafe

So I started making the tangzhong Friday afternoon, making sure there's enough time for it to chill in the fridge. I proceeded to make the topping , and then the dough. I used my heavy duty mixer to mix the dough.. however, the dough was quite sticky.. and it really didn't rise during the 1st proof. I then remembered that in mixing up the yeast with lukewarm water, I forgot to scald the milk when I added it in. I'm sure the yeast was inactivated. So I tried rescuing the dough by mixing in more activated yeast and kneaded some more, and proofed it in a warm oven (turned it to 400F for 1 min).. then I followed the rest of the steps. The result isn't too bad. The topping is wonderful, the bun is soft, but not fluffy enough.

So on Saturday night, with my dearest hubby's encouragement (or enabling), I proceeded to make a second batch. I still have half of the tangzhong left, and I have a little bit of topping left, so making the dough was the only thing I had to do. I wanted to change things up a bit, as I didn't want to make plain breads, so I looked at some posts from Corner Cafe, and decided to make some breakfast bun with what I had in the fridge. I was disappointed not to find any sausages, but I've got plenty of green onions, cheese and a pack of tuna. That should do.

This time, I researched the other posts, and made sure I activated the yeast with lukewarm water, and waited to see 'beer foam'-like foam appear on the surface. I lightly scalded the milk, and mixed everything except the butter in the mixer for 6 minutes. I added the room temperature butter and mixed the dough for another 4 minutes. The mixer bowl was too big for the dough, so there was a lump that was stuck in the bottom despite my continuing scraping down the bowl. I took the dough out and hand kneaded it for another 15 minutes. At first, I had to keep adding flour to my hands and the surface, but it really got a lot less sticky towards the end. When the dough was ready (able to pull out a small bit to form a thin membrane), I put it in the greased bowl in the warmed oven (warmed it to 400F for 1 min, then put in the dough), and waited 40 min. The 1st proof was very successful. When I took the dough out, it was beautiful: elastic, not sticky at all, and all fluffed up. I punched it down, let it rest for 15 minutes and then formed the dough. I also rolled in the ingredients. This time I let it proof for another hour in the warm oven.

The 2nd proofing was successful as well. The dough did grow twice in size, the way it should. The breads came out a lot more fluffy and lighter than the first batch. They still don't compare to the bakery ones, but are surely better than the packaged ones we got from the local Asian supermarket.

Happy Chinese New Year!

This is the Year of the Rabbit.. hopefully I will be healthier this year. Since I'm recovering from a terrible cold/flu, I was not able to cook a feast for my family.. instead, I made the small snacks instead.

The small fryer is one of the best investment I've made last year. Deep-frying the sesame balls is so much easier with this appliance. I can also control the temperature of oil, which helps a great deal since these little dessert balls need to be fried with a medium heat. Otherwise, the sesame seeds will be burnt.

Besides making the usual rice noodle stir fry, I also made curry puffs for the first time. A friend of mine has shown me the secret - using store bought puff pastry sheets. I still have to work on getting the right taste of HK style curry, for this batch, I used a mixture of Korma curry with Japanese curry. I used minced beef, potatoes and peas and they taste great with the curry.