Aug 30, 2012

Metabolism Boosting Juice with Mixed Berries, Banana, Apple, Carrot, Walnut, Milk, and a Splash of Honey

Well....I was having a little metabolic issue after traveling from Taiwan to the states. On top of time changes, sleeping schedule, weather, etc, the most suspicious cause lies on the diet. My diet consists of a minimum of 5 types of vegetables daily plus a glass of freshly made juice from my dad (Thank you!). However, that amount of fiber intake was reduced drastically during the first few days of my arrival.

I've got to do something to save my ever bloating tummy. So here is it, I took whatever that was available in the kitchen combined with my dad's healthy juice idea, and the tummy savior was born.

Energy boost juice with mixed berries, banana, apple, carrot, walnut, milk, and a splash of honey -

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 full cups)?

1 handful of strawberries
2 tablespoons of blueberries
1 apple
1 ripe banana
1/2 stick of carrot
3 to 4 walnuts
Some 2% reduced fat milk
Some honey


Peel the apple and carrot. Chop the banana, peeled apple, peeled carrot into bite sizes and toss into the blender. Remove the stems from strawberries, cut in half and add to the blender. Add in the blueberries too.

Toss in 2 to 3 walnuts along with some honey to sweeten and smooth out the acidity -

Pour in the milk till all the ingredients are submerge underneath. You can substitute the milk with soy milk or even water. The amount of liquid used depending on how thick you would like the juice to be. I prefer mine condensed and unstrained, that's how I got all the nutrients in one glass. Blend till smooth, should take less than one minute.

My metabolism and ...well..."bathroom" schedule turned normal again only one day after having this juice. And yes, hello my happy tummy, good to see you couple sizes down again!

Aug 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies Made with Self Rising Flour

Who says I have to use baking soda or baking powder to make cookies!?

I was planning to bake some sweet treats the other day. However, there aren't too many things left in the pantry. No chocolate (ouch! my favorite), no baking powder, and no baking soda. Frustrated and lazy as I was to drive down to the grocery store, which happens to be only 5 minutes away...There it was! A pack of self rising flour sitting quietly on the rack with halo glowing above. Well, at least that's how I remembered.

Peanut butter cookies made with self rising flour -

Ingredients (for 2 dozen small cookies)?

1 1/4 cup of self rising flour
1/3 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup of unrefined raw sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons of honey 
1 stick/8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Some almond flakes for decoration

*Only use 1 tablespoon of honey if you would like to tone down the sweetness a bit.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take a big bowl and mix in all the ingredients except the almond flakes. If possible, make sure to use unrefined raw sugar because it's slightly larger size gives more texture when you bite into the cookies.  Use a mixer and blend till fully incorporated, till the ingredients form smaller bits. Next, form the mixture into one big mass by hand.

Take a spoon as measurement, scoop one portion at a time and shape into a small ball with your hands. Slightly press it down and the put the dough onto the parchment paper. Gently press down two almond flakes as garnish. Repeat the steps till all the dough has been used.

Remember to evenly lay out the cookie dough with some gaps in between. It's ok if the cookies are not shaped as a perfect circle. In fact, I actually prefer it with cracks on the edges, feels more homemade that way.

Into the oven for about 12 to 14 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes then the cookies will be ready to eat.

You get those mini crunchy bites from the raw sugar, that's something you can't find if regular brown sugar was used. Creamy peanut butter also works very well with this recipe. Perhaps next time I'll switch to almond butter and see how it goes.

- Other recipe using self rising flour -
*Very moist chocolate chip cupcakes
*Chocolate cupcakes with coconut sauce

Aug 18, 2012

The Only Burger I've Ever Dreamed of - Umami Burger (Costa Mesa)

Hands down my favorite burger in the world (at least till the date this blog was published). I would love to give you a big squeezy hug Mr. Adam Fleischman, the creator behind this sexy burger. But most likely seeing you in person will not be happening anytime soon - here I present my highest gratitude instead. 

Umami Burger Costa Mesa Branch - 

Believe it or not, my very first bite of umami burger was from a cold take out bag, along with other fried items such as sweet potato fries and tempura onion rings. Skeptical at first, however, all the flavors from that perfectly toasted buns, umami ketchup, sautéed shitake mushrooms, even cold ground beef still can't stop bursting in my mouth. That was the first time when I finally met the burger in my dream. 

Menu - 

Umami burger $11 - 

"Shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, umami ketchup."

Umami is the fifth taste originally discovered by a Japanese guy. Sour, sweet, salt, bitter, and umami. It is basically the deliciousness taste from all kinds of food. Remember the gratified senses when you bite into something unbelievable followed by a big WOW or OMG? That's umami. And this is the burger that truly holds its name.

Medium rare is the right way to enjoy this burger. Don't worry, the restaurant grinds steak quality beef daily. The patty is seared over very high heat in order to get that crisp edges while still keeping the center moist and tender.

Parmesan crisp also adds a crunchy bite to the burger. Along with their signature homemade ketchup and a secret sauce, this is my perfect bite of heaven.

Manly burger $11 -

"Beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt onion strings, bacon lardons."

Truffle burger $12 -

"House made truffle cheese, truffle glaze."

The greenbird $12 -

"Shelton farms natural turkey, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts."

Iced green tea $2.5 - 

Condiments -

Umami ketchup is my favorite followed by relish. Usually I would love to slap some relishes onto my food but the burger itself just too good for me to change anything that might alter the heavenly flavoring combo.

Sweet potato fries $4 and tempura onion rings $3 -

You've got to have Umami's tempura onion rings. It comes with a sweet taste, not sure from the onion or from the batter, perhaps both? The texture of the onion rings get even crunchier toward the end of the meal, to die for.

This place also offers a good selection of alcoholic beverages ranging from beer to reds/whites. Beer is about $7 per bottle and wine is about $9 per glass on average.

I would love to take some more interior pictures of the restaurant but this is all I've got -

Pardon me, I can't take more photos without pointing my camera toward customers with their mouths wide open devouring the burgers. Maybe next time when Umami is not as busy, but I wonder when would that be, this place is always packed!

Cindy's Rating: 9

Umami Burger (Costa Mesa Branch/The Camp)
2981 Bristol Street
Suite B-2
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Sun - Thu: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 11 a.m. - 12 midnight
*Open during afternoon hours

Aug 12, 2012

Faux Black and White Mille Feuille

Last time I used some frozen puff pastries and made two simply desserts:
Pop tarts style puff pastry with honey flavored red bean paste,
Roll up cookies with mini bittersweet chocolate chips.

There were couple more pastry sheets left, so I came up with another recipe called "faux" mille feuille. The final product doesn't look as delicate as professionally made mille feuille. However, the taste is definitely up there for an easy, hassle free afternoon treat.

Faux black and white mille feuille -

Ingredients (about 8 slices)?

2 sheets of frozen puff pastries (rectangular shaped)
8 ounces 70% dark chocolate
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
Some white chocolate


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Thaw 2 sheets of frozen puff pastries and line the parchment paper on a baking sheet. Take one pastry and measure it with a deep, rectangular shaped baking dish. In fact, the kind of baking dish for meat loaf is perfect for this dessert. Trim out any extra pastry and "re-attach" to empty spaces if necessary. In this case, rather to end up with overload pastry than finding a hole in the final product.

Simply lay the thawed pastries on the sheet. Into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or till the pastries all puffed up and the surface looks semi-browned. Once done, remove from heat and wait till cool enough to handle by hand.

Chop the dark chocolate into smaller pieces. Use a double broiler to melt the chopped chocolate together with heavy whipping cream. Stir the mixture to help binding the ingredients, there we have our ganache.

Evenly lay one puff pastry to the deep baking dish. Gently smash done the puff pastry to form our first layer. Make sure there are no empty spaces on the edges.

Pour in half of the ganache and use a spoon to even it out. Add another layer of puff pastry with some smashing power. Pour in one more layer of ganache and even it out. Into the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Take a knife and cut through the edges. Carefully dig into the bottom of the mille feuille. The whole thing should pop right out once you the get the angle right. Take a peeler to shave the white chocolate bar. Cut the pastry into slices and decorate with white chocolate shavings before serving.

Can you believe how easy this faux mille feuille is? You get that crunchy bites from double puff pastry layers and the chocolate just gradually melts in your mouth. The sweet white chocolate shavings also balance out the slightly bitter 70% dark chocolate.

What more can you ask for? Next time I'll try changing one of the layers to ground hazelnut!

Aug 7, 2012

No Hassle Recipes Using Frozen Puff Pastry

Frozen puff pastry is one of the frozen ingredients that can be found in my fridge anytime. You can utilize it with both savory and sweet dishes. What's even better? Frozen pastry is just so easy to use. Simply remove the pastry from the freezer, cover with a moist paper towel, wait for few minutes and it'll be ready to use!

Since my recipes are so easy to make, I've decided to put up two of my recent dessert creations using frozen puff pastry, the more the merrier!

Frozen puff pastry - Pop Tarts style with honey flavored red bean paste -


3 square shaped frozen puff pastries
1 egg
Some honey flavored red bean paste
Some mini semi-sweet chocolate chits (for decoration)
Some matcha powder (for decoration)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take three pre-thawed square shaped frozen puff pastries and cut them in half. If you're using rectangle shaped pastries just cut into smaller and even rectangle pieces.

Take half of the pastries and spoon some homemade red bean paste onto the center. I've hyperlinked my previous red bean paste recipe for your reference.

Don't use too much red bean paste at first, otherwise you might end up with overfilled or exploded mess. Beat one egg as our egg wash. Use the egg wash and brush on the edges of the puff pastries. Take the other half of the pastries and fold it over to the  ones with red bean paste on. Seal and press the edges with a fork. Also brush the top with some egg wash.

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully transfer the Pop Tart shaped pastries onto the sheet and into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or till the top turns golden brown.

Remember to let the finished dessert cool down before digging into it. The pastry actually gets crunchier after the heat has dissipated.

To plate this dessert, I line up some semi-sweet chocolate chips on the plate and transfer to the oven till the chocolate softens. I also cut the pastry in half diagonally and dust some matcha power all over.

Frozen puff pastry - Roll up style with mini bittersweet chocolate chips -


1 to 2 frozen puff pastries
1 egg
Some mini bittersweet chocolate chips


Almost the same preparation steps. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and thaw the pastry.

Evenly sprinkle the mini chocolate chips all over the pastry but leaving about 1 cm space on the top and bottom. Beat one egg as our egg wash and brush the bottom edge with it. Gently roll up the pastry and just seal the end by hand.

Cut the pastry roll into individual pieces, about 1 to 1.5 cm in width. you can actually freeze the pastry for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting to prevent chocolate chips from falling everywhere.

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the rolls with cut side up, so the rolls appear flat on the sheet. They might look loose and hollow but do not worry. They'll all puffed up once baked in the oven. Brush the surface with egg wash and into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or till the tops turned golden brown.

This is so yummy. I couldn't finish all the rolls by myself so I actually store some in the fridge. Surprisingly, the texture of the pastry remains crunchy afterwards. You can also play around with the ingredients used. Perhaps caramel? Cheese slices? Fresh berries?