AH! I just graduated college, like literally a day ago! I'm happy, ecstatic, freaked out but mostly, I feel weird. It's just a weird feeling when you close one chapter of your life and are faced with the next, yet to be written...
These past four years have been filled with much goodness, fun, friends, family, adventures, failures, triumphs and more, and I couldn't have asked for anything else. I am so proud to say that I have finished my undergraduate career and am now on my way to new and exciting endeavors. Of course, I'll miss the time I had at UCI a lot, more than words can say, but for now, YIPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
My wonderful parents have supported me since the day I came into creation and I am so proud to say that I am their daughter. Even more wonderfully, they threw me a beautiful graduation celebration filled with family and friends! But of course, I had to bake a few things. Correction, by a few, I mean a whole lotta!
My sister & I enjoying our goodies (my dog Baba-ganoush with us on the right):
First on the list: Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Yellow Cream Cheese Frosting. Why blue and yellow you ask? Well UCI's colors are blue and yellow so I thought the choice was obvious :P
I have my tried and true red velvet recipe, but I decided to try a new one for this extravaganza. Although these were yummy, I still prefer my favorite one :)
Yields: 24 cupcakes
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake tin with liners, set aside. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa and salt into a medium bowl. Beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tin. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes before cooling completely on a rack.
To make the frosting, with an electric mixture, blend together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Turn mixer on high until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, before use bring back to room temperature.
Blue & Yellow Rice Krispies because well, we had rice krispies and marshmallows on hand and they are incredibly cute, if I do say so myself. Plus, who doesn't love rice krispies?
Smores Cookies. I will never, ever find a replacement for you. You are by far my favorite cookies on this planet earth and I had to, just HAD to make you! Mmmm graham based cookie dough filled with chocolate and topped with chewy, toasty marshmallows!
Baba & I with our wondrous spread:My absolute favorite, or let me correct myself, EVERYONE's favorite were the mini fruit tarts. These are so incredibly easy: just bake some puff pastry dough, whisk up some easy-peasy custard and top with some fresh fruit. And though it takes you a second, it looks like a million bucks!
Mini Fruit Tarts
Yields: 18 mini tarts
Original recipe here.
1 package puff pastry, thawed
1 egg + 1 tbsn. water, beaten
1 bow of strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 box of blueberries, washed
1 box of blackberries, washed
1 bow of raspberries, washed
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 pomegranate, seeded
For the custard:
1 large box of vanilla pudding
1 1/4 cups WHOLE milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
To make the custard, beat everything together until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate until cool and thickens some more, about 1 hour. Remove the puff pastry from the package and place onto a lightly floured surface. Use a knife to cut each piece of puff pastry into 9 squares, yielding 18 in total. Use a fork to prick the surface all over each piece. Place the squares onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each square with the egg wash and bake according to directions on the package, let cool completely. To assemble, spread about 2 - 3 tbsn. of custard onto each pastry and top with the fruit in however manner you wish. Enjoy!
For all of my family, and me especially, I asked my mom to make Che Thai which is a Vietnamese dessert that is filled with all kinds of Vietnamese canned fruits, jellies and such and served as a cold soup in a coconut milk-syrup mixture. It's my absolute favorite of Vietnamese desserts!
Che Thai/ Vietnamese Fruit in Coconut Milk
Yields: 10 - 15 servings
1 can grass jelly, cut into 1/2 inch dices
1 can mint jelly, cut into 1/2 inch dices
2 cans jackfruit, sliced and water reserved
1 can longan, roughly chopped and water reserved
1 can lychee, roughly chopped and water reserved
1 pomegranate, seeds removed and washed
1 jar toddy palm seed
1 jar coconut gel
1/2 can coconut milk, more or less
In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients, including their liquids from the cans. Add about half of the coconut milk and mix everything together. Add more according to your taste. Chill in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours. Serve cold and with ice if too sweet.
Sangria's always a good choice for parties. Not too overbearingly alcoholic and perfect for the summer, especially with all of that great fruit coming into season. This one is Bobby Flay's recipe and boy did it hit the spot. Sweet with a nice punch.
Bobby Flay's White Peach Sangria
Yields: 4 - 6 servings
Original recipe here.
1 bottle white wine (Spanish table wine)
3 oz. brandy
2 oz. triple sec
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 oz. simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar heated until dissolved, then cooled)
3 oz. white peach puree
fresh peaches, oranges and apples, sliced (I used peaches and blackberries)
Place all of the ingredients into a pitcher to mix. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 48 hours. Serve over ice.
For the kiddies we had Orange Rainbow Punch. Basically just orange juice, ginger ale and all of the fruit you can imagine dumped in! I used sliced oranges, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries and blackberries. It was like a fruit fiesta and so uberly refreshing.
And of course, had to have some of PW's Corn & Avocado salsa! It's perfect for summer and absolutely perfect for parties, so freaking delicious!
Of course, we had a bunch more food than that! My mom is the master at parties and provided a whole spread of delights which included crab stuffed mushrooms, Korean BBQ, rice pilaf with almonds, penne with feta and garlic shrimp and more. Mmmmm my stomach is grumbling from just thinking about it!