Tiramisu Cupcakes~!

Tiramisu Cupcake

It’s been AGES. Life has gotten in the way, 2.5 jobs, 2 new puppies, ensuing craziness! But to make it up to you, I made these delicious Tiramisu Cupcakes. And that Spring-y liner is so appropriate for the season, I love it!

Also, here are my new babies. Aren’t they ADORBS?!

Jade and Lexa

Jade and Lexa

We adopted them from the Humane Society right after the New Year, they were about 8 weeks old at the time. Love my puppies!  Even though they still pee and poop in the house D: We’re working on it!

On to the tiramisu cupcakes! I can’t recall when I started loving tiramisu, although I do remember an instance in high school when a classmate brought in a giant tupperware (what’s the non-brand name for that? storage container? that sounds weird…) with like, a VAT of tiramisu inside. I thought it looked like a giant mashed up mess and was totally grossed out :\

Fast-forward a few years to university and I was scarfing down tiramisu like nobody’s business. I had no idea what was in it, but it looked super complicated and intimidating.

For my birthday this year (28! entirely too close to 30) I thought I’d take the leap and finally try to make tiramisu, but then my recipe search popped up Tiramisu Cupcakes by BrownEyedBaker. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? And I am a huge fan of single-serving desserts :)  The recipe looked all kinds of complicated, just as I had feared, but I re-worked the directions a bit to make it easier to follow. I also tweaked the recipe a TEENSY bit, because the first time I made it, the cupcakes were very dense, not fluffy like I had imagined.

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Peppermint Bit Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am not going to see my family today, but I will be going out with Mr. Dumpling for dinner at a new (to us) restaurant :)  It’s always fun to try new places! And new recipes~

I’ve been having issues with my cookies for the past few months. They were turning out flatter than flat, almost falling apart from flatness… and prior to that, I had issues with super puffy cookies that tasted bleh :(  But, I think I’ve fixed it!

Here is my recipe for Peppermint Bit Cookies :)  It’s a basic cookie recipe that I’ve fiddled with a bit, I used Andes Peppermint Bits and a little bit of mint extract, but usually I use it to make Chocolate Chip Cookies (and leave out the mint).

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. mint extract
  • 1 ½ cups (6 oz) all-purpose flour *If at all possible, please weigh the flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt (not table salt)
  • 6 oz peppermint bits (half a bag)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, and mint and beat for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated.
  4. Finally add peppermint bits until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick – if it is runny, add small dustings of flour until it becomes thicker.
  5. Using a small cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown.
  7. Remove from heat and let cookies sit on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes.
  8. Transfer the parchment paper (with cookies still on it) onto a cool surface and let cool for a little bit, then move onto a cooling rack.
  9. Eat!

Old Bay Shrimp and Sausage

This dish is SUPER simple to make! All you need is one pan and one plate, essentially. I forgot to take pics while making this (sorrysorry) but it really doesn’t need many~

Granted, I cheat a bit – the shrimp I buy is frozen in a bag, shell still on but already butterflied so it’s very easy to peel. I never really measure/count the amount of shrimp I use, basically I just ask Boyfriend how much he wants to eat and adjust accordingly.  I bought the Andouille sausage in a 2-pack at Walmart, based on recommendation from my sis. I use green bell peppers because Boyfriend likes, you can use any bell pepper you want, or even add other vegetables :)

One note on this recipe: KEEP STIRRING.

Ingredients

  • 20-25 medium size shrimp (or large, w/e you want!)
  • 1 large Andouille sausage (or whatever sausage you prefer)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • cooking spray/olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • dash of salt
  • ¼ cup water

Pre-directions: Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Slice up the sausage (I also halved the slices). Chop up the bell pepper (whichever color you love best!) into bite-size pieces. Mince the garlic cloves. It’s easier if you have all this at the ready.

  • If you’re like me, the garlic that you pre-peeled and stored in the fridge somehow started growing more garlic from itself. Completely freak out and call your sister (at 11pm) and ask if it’s poisonous now (potato horror stories come to mind). She advises you to just cut around the sprouts and use it anyway. You find fresher garlic buried deep in the crisper and use that instead…just to be safe.
  • Also if you’re like me, you’ve rarely cooked shrimp on your own before and don’t really know when it’s fully done, so I usually just keep cooking until it doesn’t look all clear and grey anymore. The whiter the flesh is, the better!

Actually, one more note: Look at the amount of ingredients that are going into the skillet. Then look at your skillet. Are you sure you chose the right skillet? This shit ain’t cooking down AT ALL. I would almost recommend one of those stove-woks (you know, with the flat bottom?). I wish I had me a stove wok :( I don’t know how many shrimps and bell peppers and sausage bits I flung all over the stovetop and had to frantically rescue, at the cost of singed fingertips. Keep this in mind before you start!

Directions

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat liberally with olive oil/cooking spray.
  2. Add shrimp, Old Bay seasoning, black pepper, and salt.
  3. Toss the shrimp to coat with seasoning, stirring frequently until fully cooked (about 3 minutes). Dump it into a plate and set aside.
  4. In the now dirty (read: delicious) and seasoned pan, coat again with olive oil/cooking spray and add bell pepper. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the sliced sausage, stirring frequently until sausage is nicely browned.
  6. Now add the minced garlic and cooked shrimp, still keep stirring! Cook for just about 1 minute so that the garlic is nicely incorporated and the shrimp is all reheated n stuff. At this point I also added a teaspoon of hot oil, because Boyfriend loves him some spicy.
  7. Add ¼ cup water, scrape the pan to loosen the delicious browned bits. Let it cook down a bit into a light sauce, still stirring.
  8. Plate and eat!

I think this would taste super yummy over some rice or noodles, but I was in too much of a hurry last night, lol. If you want to do this, add a little bit more seasoning and water at the end so you have a bit of extra sauce :)

Hope you like this as much as my boyfriend does~!

Simple Sauteed Kale with Garlic

hearty, healthy, delicious

Plated kale with garlic <3

I thought I should start to balance out the rather rich and heavy posts we’ve had thus far– OREO CHEESECAKE COOKIES?!– with something a little healthier. There are many recipes online for sautéed kale, but I didn’t really look at them other than giving a quick glance. One day, my boyfriend and I decided to try cooking our kale the way we’d cook most other Chinese greens like bok choy or chinese broccoli.

Until that point, the only way I’d ever eaten kale was either baked into chips (super tasty), or raw with an amazing nutty (without nuts) garlic dressing massaged into it– mimicking a popular item at the Whole Foods salad bad. Which by the way, is ridiculously overpriced– I only tried it once when my friend bought it!

Anyway, I’m officially in love with this dish. It takes like 10 minutes to do, and it tastes amazing.

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Oreo Cheesecake COOKIES

I love cheesecake. Which is kinda funny, considering I absolutely, categorically refused to eat anything with cream cheese until about 2½ years ago. Then one day at work, my boss brought us all bagels…and horrors! there was NO BUTTER.  I had to use cream cheese. And it was delicious.

But not as delicious these Oreo Cheesecake Cookies.

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Pork Dumpling Filling

yum yum look at the chives!

a shot of the dumpling filling after i worked it with my hands

Since my DumplingSkin sister has never made dumpling filling before, and I wanted to try making our Mom’s Stuffed Jalapenos, I decided to make my own first batch of dumpling filling! I kind of bought too much meat because the enthusiastic butcher at the Asian Market lopped on an extra pound and I figured making a little more than I needed wouldn’t hurt. I ended up freezing half of my batch for later, and I’m already excited about using them for actual dumplings! I called our mom who is currently in Taiwan, and she told me what she usually did for her dumpling filling. Unfortunately, she didn’t have exact measurements– so I don’t have exact measurements either. Here’s what I did:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs ground pork – give or take! Make sure it has some fat in it. If it’s too lean, your dumplings might be kind of dry.
  • Napa cabbage – one small one, if you can find them that small. Mine was about 2 lbs.
  • Chives/Scallions/Onions
  • Dried Chinese Mushrooms
  • Ginger Root/Ginger Powder
  • 1-2 Eggs
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sugar
  • Rice Cooking Wine
  • Five Spice Power
  • Salt & Pepper (very much optional, as there is already salt in soy sauce)

NOTE: For many of these ingredients, I just eyeballed it. Every family/person has their own version of this, and so you can adjust the ingredients based on whatever you prefer. Don’t like chives? Don’t include them. I originally didn’t want to buy a Napa cabbage because I don’t use Napa often in my cooking, and they are often very large. However, only 1 person out of the 5 people I asked said that it was NOT important…and it supposedly improves the texture of the meat. I am assuming that because of it’s high water content, it might make the meat more tender? Anyone know?

  1. Place maybe two handfuls of the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover them in water. They will float at first, but as they absorb the water and become reconstituted, they will sink down and become moist. (This is optional, but I love mushrooms in my dumplings). Set aside.
  2. Finely chop the chives/onions/scallions. I prefer chives. In the end, I used maybe 2-3 cups worth of chives.
  3. Finely chop napa cabbage. I first sliced the cabbage from the leafy end, just a few millimeters thick, in rounds. Then I spread it out and chopped it all over, as if I was mincing garlic.
  4. If you are using ginger root, peel your ginger root using a spoon. The edge of a spoon is less dangerous than a peeler, which also takes off more than you need– and is actually very effective at peeling ginger root. Slice off about a 1/4 inch thick, inch-round slice. You don’t need much. Finely chop maybe a teaspoons worth. 
  5. If the mushrooms are already reconstituted, cut the hard stems away and also finely mince them.
  6. Put ground pork on a sturdy cutting board, take a heavy knife (I used the standard large Chinese cleaver) and start chopping at the meat all over. In a way, you’re tenderizing it. This step may not be necessary, but my mother recommends it because sometimes the pork is not finely ground enough at the market. This helps to make it more sticky in texture and hold on to the other ingredients better. It’s like you are trying to mince it. Just keep chopping and then folding the meat over itself and repeating until you think it is fine enough. I did this for less than 10 minutes before I got tired. Then I was like, CLOSE ENOUGH. My boyfriend helped for about 10 seconds, lazy. Some day you might be as badass as my mother, who I think could do this with knives in both hands.
  7. In a very large bowl, combine all of the ground pork, about 3-6 cups of napa cabbage, 2-3 cups chives, and all of the mushrooms.
  8. Sprinkle a large pinch of sugar into the bowl. Maybe a teaspoon’s worth.
  9. Drizzle soy sauce all over the ingredients. You don’t need a lot, but just eyeball it to however much you think is enough to flavor it.
  10. Add about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.
  11. Add your chopped ginger root. If you are using powder like I did when I realized I had thrown out my last (moldy) bit of ginger, I only used about a 1/4 teaspoon of it. This helps to get rid of the pork stink, as my mom said.
  12. Add a tiny bit of five spice power. Maybe half a teaspoon if even. I haven’t experimented with this ingredient much, but my mom said to use it lightly since it is very strong.
  13. Drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking wine. 
  14. Using your hands, start mixing all of the ingredients together in the bowl. You almost have to work it like a dough, to make sure everything is evenly incorporated.
  15. Keep kneading, you want the consistency to be kind of sticky and for all the vegetables to be held in the meat securely.
  16. Add in an extra egg if you want. Maybe salt and pepper if you want. I recommend white pepper, if you use any. Egg helps to hold the filling together, and I added a bit too many vegetables so after I added one more egg, everything held together beautifully!
  17. Knead a little bit more. The more you knead with your hands, the stronger the filling will hold on to the ingredients. :)

DONE! Use for stuffed jalapenos, dumplings, or anything. I am thinking about baking them as meat balls/pan searing the balls and stir frying them with more vegetables. They might even taste good as filling for stuffed cabbage. :)

 

 

Comfort Zones

I’ve almost always cooked just for myself, so I never really put much thought or effort into what I made, it was just sustenance. I am trying to slowly step out of my comfort zone and make new things, usually things I know (or hope) the Boyfriend will like – in case I don’t, lol. And like most people, I am completely uncomfortable stepping out of my comfort zone.  For as long as I remember (which, if we’re being honest, is not that long…I have a horrible memory), I’ve automatically assumed that anything that I’ve never tried is disgusting. Pretty childish, eh? But I’m trying to move past it! Slowly, but surely…

The only vegetable I eat is broccoli. This does not make for very interesting meals in the Dumpling house. Usually some form of meat with a side of steamed broccoli. Bo-ring.

In an effort to branch out, I made this yummy (to him, at least) Old Bay Shrimp & Sausage stir-fry for the Boyfriend a bit ago, which had green peppers in it. I think someday soon I might be able to force myself to try a green pepper. Unless it’s spicy. Are they spicy? I have no idea.

On the plus side, my sister loves vegetables. I am sure you will see many a vegetable dish come out of EatDouMiao. I am searching for another vegetable I can tolerate, hopefully I will find one soon! I don’t count corn or potatoes because they are basically starches, not real veggies.

This post was supposed to be about comfort zones. I think I went off on a little tangent, but basically my efforts here are to help grow and expand my food palette and to change to healthier eating habits. There are things that I absolutely refuse to eat (bean sprouts, tomatoes, onions) and things that I am willing to try. I’ve never made soups or sauces, never tried to make any really complicated dishes, but I plan to try very soon :)  I’m much more confident in my baking than I am in my cooking, so you will probably see a lot more baking entries than anything else. My sister is much more accomplished (and daring) in the kitchen.

If you’re curious about the current banner (which is a bunch of little mouse pastries), I made them for a Game of Thrones premiere party earlier this year. Cocktail wieners wrapped in croissant dough with almond slices for ears and black sesame for eyes. Labor intensive, but fun to make and everyone at the party loved them!  That’s what I love about cooking, what I think most people love – watching it disappear. No leftovers. That’s the goal.