Thursday, September 29, 2011

Swedish Semlor

I love anything involved with cream or custard. Cream puffs are just a complete celebration of the gorgeous lusciousness that is custard, which is why, naturally, I'm in love with them. After seeing gorgeous photos of Swedish semlor on Pinterest, I was intrigued and decided to find out a little bit more about them.

The Swedish have this lovely tradition called 'fika' which is basically a time in the day where they take the time to relax with some coffee and pastries. I think it's the most lovely idea ever, if only we could all take some time out of our busy lives to enjoy some fine company and fine pastries - I think it would do us all a big favor. Anyways, semlor are the Swedish version of cream puffs, but a little bit more involved and fragranced with the slightest bit of cardamom and almond.

 Soft, cardamom spiced buns filled with custard and whipped cream and topped with just a bit of powdered sugar... come on now, how can it not be good? Plus, they're really pretty too!

Swedish Semlor
Yields: 8 large buns or 16 mini buns
Adapted from here.

1 large egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup warm milk
1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom, plus more for filling
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup milk, or as needed
3 oz. marzipan
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
powdered sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg with the melted butter and milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together the 2 1/2 cups of flour with 1/4 cup sugar, salt and ground cardamom. Once the yeast has softened, stir the flour mixture into the milk mixture until a soft dough forms. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Sift together the remaining flour and baking powder. Stir into the risen dough, then knead until smooth. Form into 8 equal balls or 16 if you'd like smaller buns. Place onto a greased baking sheet, cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, 35 - 40 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the buns for 10 - 15 minutes until golden brown and the center is firm. Cool the buns on a wire rack until room temperature. Once cool, cut about 1/2" thick slice off the top, set aside. Scoop or cut out the center of the buns, leaving a shell about 1/2" thick. Tear the removed bread into small pieces and place into the bowl of a food processor. Add the milk and marzipan to the mixture and process until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. It should be the consistency of pudding. Add the almond extract and a pinch of cardamom and process until combined. Scoop this mixture into the hollowed buns. Whip the cream with 2 tbsn. of sugar to stiff peaks. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the filling to 1/2" over the top of the bun. Replace tops onto the buns and dust with powdered sugar.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manicure Mondays: Zebra

Ever since it has been getting hot in my parts, all I've wanted to do is wear the craziest, most colorful nails around! I just got this new, absolutely gorgeous Zoya color that epitomizes summer - the brightest, boldest hot pink ever. I'm not a pink girl by any means, but this just screamed out to me.
I thought I'd kick it up a notch even more by adding some badass zebra stripes using a striping brush. Just two coats of the Zoya color, then by using a striping brush, I added random and slightly messy horizontal stripes across my nail. Since it's supposed to be kind of organic, it wasn't too hard to make it look good. Mistakes are welcome!

{what i used}

CND stickey anchoring base coat
Zoya lola
Cacee color artist with striping brush in black
Seche Vite dry fast topcoat
Nicole by OPI drying drops

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frangipane Fruit Tart

This, my friends, is one of my favorite things I've ever made. Ever.

It's the epitome of desserts I love because it is both rich tasting and refreshing at the same time! Plus, it has custard and of course, anything that has custard in it is a win in my book. Let me just emphasize again that this fruit tart is amazing; not only does it taste amazing, it's literally breathtaking to look at. It starts with a chewy and sweet sugar cookie crust, which is then filled with the most fragrant and delicious frangipane filling. On top of that is a layer of creamy vanilla custard that helps keep the whole tart moist and enables the fruit to stick to the tart. If you can imagine anything more this tart needs, it is then topped with a medley of fresh fruit and beautified with an apricot glaze that makes it even more stunning to look at!

I know this sounds really tedious, having five components and all, but the way I make this tart (using shortcuts) makes it do-able and when you take a bite of this gorgeous thing you just made, you'll start thinking of when you're gonna make it again and again! I've made it almost 10 times already... not joking!

French Fruit Tart
Yields: 2 9" tarts
Original frangipane recipe here.

For the crust:
1 package dry mix sugar cookie dough
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
+ the ingredients needed to make it, according to the package

For the custard layer:
1 small package of French vanilla pudding
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla 
 For the frangipane layer:
8 tbsn. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup almond meal or ground almonds
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. almond extract

For the glaze:
1/4 cup apricot jam or orange marmalade
2 tbsn. water

For the filling (any assortment of the below will work):
golden raspberries
mandarin oranges

First, prepare the frangipane filing. Combine the butter and sugar in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the ground almonds and pulse to blend. Add the cornstarch and pulse. Mix in the egg, egg yolk and almond extract. Scrape into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before using. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the sugar cookie mix according to the directions on the package. Option to add vanilla for some extra flavor, if desired. Divide the dough among two 9" tart pans with removable bottoms. Spread evenly along the entire surface and up the sides (don't worry if it looks thin - it will puff up during baking). Bake for 10 - 13 minutes until just barely golden. Once out of the oven, use the back of a spoon to gently press in the center to create a well, while maintaining the edges. This will make room for the frangipane layer. Set aside to cool a bit. Once room temperature, divide the frangipane filling among the two par-baked tart shells and bake for 10 - 15 minutes until slightly puffed and golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

To prepare the custard, combine all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk for 3 - 5 minutes until thickened and smooth. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to chill and thicken up some more. Once thickened, use a offset spatula to divide the custard among the two tarts, spreading the custard over the entire surface in a smooth layer. Top with your assortment of fruit in any manner that you like. To make the glaze, heat all of the ingredients over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir to combine. Once thinned, remove from the heat and use a pastry brush to glaze the entire surface of the tart. Chill the tart for at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Manicure Mondays: Shattered Glass

The minute I laid my eyes on Color Club's "Covered in Diamonds" flake polish was the minute I decided I needed it in my life! It's the most unique nail polish I've ever seen and it's utterly gorgeous. I love it over black because all of the colors shine over it, but it's equally as gorgeous on any other polish you can imagine.

{what i used}

CND stickey anchoring base coat
Wet n' Wild black
Color Club covered in diamonds
Seche Vite dry fast topcoat

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pureed Mushroom Soup

I have reached mushroom nirvana!

This soup is pure, unadulterated mushroom goodness and goodness is the perfect word to describe this soup. Since it's pureed, it's creamy as hell, yet, if you can believe it, has no cream, milk and only 2 tbsn. of olive oil! The addition of 1 single potato makes it thick and luxurious and it really is magical. If you love mushrooms, this soup is for you. It's pure mushroom flavor and super easy to make.

Pureed Mushroom Soup
Yields: 4 - 6 servings
Adapted from here.

2 tbsn. olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
20 oz. button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 sprigs thyme, leaves taken off the stem
2 14.5 oz. cans of reduced sodium chicken stock

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, potato, thyme, broth and enough water to cover, about 2 - 3 cups. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the mushrooms and potatoes are tender, about 20 - 30 minutes. Using a blender or an immersion blender, puree the broth and veggies until smooth. If using a blender, work in batches and fill only halfway, allowing the heat to escape. Transfer to a clean pot as you work. Adjust the soup's consistency with a little water if needed, and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Product Love

Everyone knows I love products. Even if I find a 'staple,' I can't help but keep on trying new products to see if they'll out-do my favorites. What I love even more is when people share their own favorite products with me. I love word-of-mouth products, so, I thought I'd do the same and share some of the things that I like to use!

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler
i've stopped looking. by far the best!

Loreal Voluminous Million Lashes
i change mascaras like i change my socks, but so far this one has proved to be lengthening, curl-enhancing, dangerously black and waterproof!

Sephora Crayon Jumbo 12 Hr Wear in Black
chunky and large for messy smoky eyes. i tested this on the back of my hand, waited a minute for it to set, then tried my best to smudge it and it wouldn't budge - winner!

Maybelline Eyestudio Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black
i used to use mac gel liner, but this is cheaper and equally as good.

Jemma Kidd Liquid Liner in Sculpt
by far my favvv for winged liner. lasts ALL day long - no joke - only makeup remover will take it off.

Make Up For Ever Waterproof Eyebrow Corrector
new product that i have been just loving, lasts longer than anything i've tried thus far.

Bobbi Brown Shimmering Nudes Eye Shadow Palette
i got this before urban decay's 'naked' palette, which i have and love. this bobbi brown palette though is perfect for everyday and has more matte colors vs. all the shimmers in the 'naked' palette. 

Hello Kitty for MAC Powder Blush in Tippy
first of all, it's hello kitty so naturally, i already love it. besides that, the bright fuchsia color is perfect! the prettiest blush for my darker olive skin.

Sonia Kashuk Hidden Agenda Concealer Palette
a palette for all situations - dark undereye skin, zits, you name it!

Tarte Amazonian Clay Long-Wear Blush in Tipsy
great formula! seriously lasts almost all day long and this color looks good on everyone! perfect for summer.

Benefit High Beam Luminescent Complexion Enhancer
i DIE for this stuff. makes you look like you're glowing but it's not too sparkly or shimmery where you look like a disco ball.

Lush Ocean Salt
my favorite scrub - for your body or your face! and if you happen to eat some of it on accident, don't worry it's all natural and kinda tastes like a margarita - yay!

Complex 15 Therapeutic Moisturizing Face Cream
i have combination skin with mainly an oily forehead. this face lotion moisturizes my skin without feeling greasy or too heavy. i'm addicted to it.

Burt's Bees Repair Serum
when i need heavy duty moisture, this is it. just rub a dime size amount onto your face before sleeping and your face will feel buttery soft in the morning, plus, it's full of all kinds of good things.

Basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash
also a Über fav of mine. strong enough to strip away makeup and grease without over-drying. the scent is really fresh too.

Burt's Bees Rosewater and Glycerin Toner
love the scent of this. alcohol-free so it doesn't sting.

Goody Spin Pins
asian pin-straight hair sucks for messy buns. spin pins are my messy-bun savior!

H&M Hair Barettes
just recently picked these up at h&m and i'm in love. classy and cute.

Sally Hansen MetaGrip Premium Bobby Pins
i have Über thick hair and i've tried every bobby pin out there. i was sadly depressed at the lack of good bobby pins until i met these. strong, sturdy and cheap ftw!

Tresemme Foam Mousse
i wave my hair almost all the time to get volume. instead of hair spray, i love using mousse to add some texture and keep the waves up all day.

Pssssst! Dry Shampoo
asian hair tends to be on the greasier side, so by the end of the day, i like to perk my hair up with some dry shampoo if i'm heading back out into the night.

One n' Only Argan Oil
i'm sure you've heard of the wonders of Moroccan Oil. basically, this is the same stuff (aka Argan Oil) but cheaper. it smells delicious and gives your hair the perfect amount of shine and moisture. 

I used to be obsessed, and I mean obsessed with lipgloss. I had a collection that I can't even bear to share with you because I'm embarrassed by how much money I spent on lipgloss! I guess it was because I had small lips and wanted to do anything to get those Angelina Jolie-esque pouty lips.

Well now, I've graduated to lipstick. I still love lipgloss but sometimes the sticky mess of it all can be much more trouble than i'm up to. Lipstick, ah, my new love. I have an insane amount of lipsticks as well, but I've found my favorites from drugstore brands so I'm not as embarrassed to show you my favorites ;)

Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia 
the perfect bright Barbie pink.

Maybelline Lipstick in Red Revival
classic, classic, classic red. would look good on almost any skin color.

Revlon Moon Drops Lipstick in Orange Flip
a bright orange coral that just screams summer.

Revlon Moon Drops Lipstick in Persian Melon
an even brighter Barbie pink!

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry
for when i'm feeling vampy.

Maybelline Lipstick in Yummy Plummy
my ultimate favorite color... it's so darn pretty! it's a bit darker than my natural lip-tone so it's perfect for everyday. 

Bobbi Brown Lipcolor in Sandwash Pink
the prettiest light pink - think Audrey Hepburn!

Maybelline Lipstick Totally Toffee
my perfect nude.

Obviously, you guys know I love nail polish since I've been posting my nail creations lately in my 'Manicure Monday' series. So, that being said... I have a LOT of nail polish and naturally, favorites as well. 

Deborah Lippmann Bad Romance
deborah lippmann, hands down, makes the best glitter polishes. they are definitely an investment because whew, they are pricey, but i make the splurge because they're definitely glitters that you can't get anywhere else!

Deborah Lippmann Boom Boom Pow

Deborah Lippmann Today Was a Fairytale

Milani Jewel FX Gold
all i can say is... VEGAS.

Santee Rich Gold
the prettiest gold-ish-silver foil color and was only a buck!

Nicole by OPI Nicole's Nickel
one of my ultimate favorites ever! it's the perfect pewter color and shines like no other in the sun.

OPI Spark de Triomphe
has a bit of silver glitter and gold glitter that makes it undeniable.

Essie Sew Psyched
a grey-ish military green that's an edgy neutral.

Essie Wicked
my favorite vampy nail polish. so classy.

Essie Really Red
whenever in doubt, wear red. i swear, i'll be wearing red on my wedding day.

Essie Island Hopping
a pretty mauve.

Essie Sand Tropez
my favorite beige.

Essie Dive Bar
such a sassy color. dark base with shimmery turquoise notes.

Zoya Lola
i diee for this bright fuchsia with a shimmery blue note. perfect for summer and tan skin.

Forever 21 Lavender
surprisingly, forever makes pretty good nail polish. this one's the prettiest pastel bright.

Zoya Pippa
the perfect yellow - not too pale or too bright.

Zoya Shawn
a fun mossy green.

Essie Aruba Blue
this blue is so dynamic. when you put it on, you'll see what i mean. it shines from within when in the sun, so perfect.

Essie Tart Deco
just fun. that's all.

Revlon Craving Coral 
a more muted coral compared to essie's 'tart deco' which makes it more versatile for every day wear.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Profile (My Jewelry).

I have a love for collecting things.

I went through a phase of headbands which happens to be completely useless now since I've discovered headbands don't look all too good on me. For a while it was vintage belts... I've tossed many of those away too since my style has completely evolved. One collection that I still use and add to today is my costume jewelry collection.

Ever since I was in high school I scoured thrift shops for chunky necklaces and unique, often weird earrings. Now, I have a love for costume jewelry and all things dripped in gold (color, not the actual metal, of course... cause sadly, i'm poor). My go to place for costume jewelry is Forever 21 because it's cheap and if it happens to be a "fashion mistake" in the future, well, at least I didn't spend too much on it right?

Here's a photo diary of my recent favorites:

In the center is my Forever 21 Chain Web Necklace. I love long necklaces! They are the perfect slimming tool, seriously. Sounds kind of ridiculous but they really do cut your body up and give a slimming effect. The chains are edgy but the ribbon gives it a girly, more feminine feel.

Forever 21 Textured Geo Ring.
I totally love this ring and have been getting an enormous amount of compliments on it. It's so unique, yet so simple. Such a find.

I'm a pretty simple dresser. I love black, button downs and clean lines, which is why I love to up the volume with my accessories. This is pretty bad ass and I love it so.

Forever 21 Rhinestone Flower Necklace (no longer available).
Same as above, bling livens any outfit.

Forever 21 Demure Rhinestone Necklace (no longer available).
How amazing is this necklace? It's such a beautiful design and has this kind of retro feel to it.

Amrita Singh Faye Earrings - but I got them for an amazing price on Hautelook.
These are the ultimate glam girl piece. Every time I just try them on, I feel like I should be hitting up Miami Beach in my best clothes at the best party. The color is gorgeous as well.

Forever 21 Woven Chain and Rhinestone Bracelet (no longer available).
Forever 21 Gold Hinge Bangle (no longer available).
Forever 21 Woven Rhinestone Bracelet (no longer available).
Forever 21 Pyramid Stud Stretch Bracelets in Silver and Gold.

Obviously I love metals... I might as well give half of my paycheck to Forever 21... jeez.

My mom's vintage gold oversize chain necklace.
I've held onto this piece ever since I discovered it in my mom's jewelry drawer. I snuck it out and was pretty pleased when she didn't notice it's disappearance. It's a great length for button-downs that I love so much because it just peeks out behind the color for a bit of glam.

Forever 21 Gold Fringe Chain Necklace with Leather Detail (no longer available).

These are both some of my more "fun" necklaces. Pieces that probably won't last long in my closet but are super fun for right now! I've been wearing these nonstop!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes

Ah! This last installation in Pancake Week is a little bit late but I've been overcome with heat and sickness. That's me being dramatic but I have been spending my last days in bed with nothing but my laptop and occasionally my super cute dog!

A while back ago, a reader suggested that I make red velvet pancakes. She said that they would be the perfect fit for my blog, and as soon as I read her comment, I wholeheartedly agreed. I love kitschy food! Most people are sick of red velvet now, but I could never get sick of something so lovely. I mean anything that gives me excuse to eat buttermilk and cream cheese frosting is okay by me.

These pancakes are just plain fun. The red color is stunning and immediately evokes a giggle out of me. These would have been extremely lovely with a light cream cheese glaze but unfortunately I didn't have any cream cheese on me. I made a buttermilk syrup instead and it was equally as lovely. I just love buttermilk syrup because I can never find a way to use up all the excess buttermilk I have in my refrigerator! Plus, it sure is tasty.

Red Velvet Pancakes
Yields: 2 servings
Original recipe here.

1 cup flour
1 tbsn. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsn. sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsn. melted butter or vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. red food coloring
buttermilk syrup, for serving

Preheat a lightly greased or nonstick skillet on the stovetop. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the egg, melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring and whisk well until the better is smooth and few lumps remain. Drop the batter into the hot skillet and cook until the edges are just starting to set and the bottom is lightly browned, about 2 - 3 minutes. Flip and cook again until the bottom is lightly browned, about 1 - 2 minutes. Serve immediately with syrup, berries, or whipped cream.