Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hello, everyone!!!

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year! May 2015 be filled with joy, blessings, and good fortune. :)

More posts to come this year, including a post on making blue velvet cake truffles!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Cooking Quirks - Quick Meals: Grilled Ham and Cheese, Fresh Romaine Salad

Hello again, lovelies!

As with the my other food posts thus far, I present to you a "Cooking Quirks" blog post. Today, I want to talk about quick meals. Not everyone has the time to cook a full healthy and flavorful meal everyday, however, that does not mean that we need to succumb to the 'student diet' of frozen pizzas, instant ramen, and the like. Most people, particularly in the United States, over the age of 15-16 knows the cheap and fast eats I'm talking about. But seriously, the other day, I was incredibly busy and had not time to cook a 'real meal', so my options seemed to be instant ramen or frozen pizza...not to mention it was a late dinner (think after 9pm) -- talk about flashbacks to student dietary habits...but I digress. In order to counter that, I plan to have spin off posts every now and then about how I cook 'quick real meals'.

The highlight of this post is my meal from a couple of days ago consisting of grilled ham and cheese, with a fresh romaine lettuce salad on the side with lightly fried ham. I purchased a pack of ham the other day, and I couldn't resist using it for one of my favorite sandwiches - grilled ham and cheese - I also purchased a three-pack of fresh romaine hearts which I washed and chopped for the salad.

To make the grilled cheese, I used a basic sandwich bread and slathered it with butter (this of course is optional), and placed a little butter in the plan instead of a cooking spray. I used two pieces of American cheese, with ham slices in between. I then placed it in the butter coated pan and grilled the sandwich. Turned out nice and golden on both sides, oozing cheese when cut diagonally (somehow grilled cheeses taste better when cut diagonally!).

To prepare the salad, I thoroughly washed the romaine heart (I used one, still have two left) and cut. I then topped it with lightly fried ham (after cooking the grilled cheese, I changed the stove to low and placed in chopped ham slices, gradually lowering the heat until it was completely off - making use of the still hot pan without using up extra energy :)), a dash of McCormick's salad toppings, parmesan and romano cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. It was pretty delicious - and probably at least a little healthier than instant ramen or frozen pizza!

Pictures as follows:

Do you have a go-to quick meal? Do you prefer your grilled cheese cut diagonally or horizontally? Let me know if you feel like sharing how your eat your grilled cheese. :)

Until next time.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cooking Quirks: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello again, worldly dots!

Today's post is a super belated post on peanut butter chocolate chip cookies made with self-rising flour. Several weeks ago, I attempted to make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies from scratch. To seasoned bakers, such a basic task and recipe can be made with their eyes closed, for a cooking newbie such as myself, the experience and results were enthralling. :) Laugh if you must, but I'm proud of my wacky-tacky cookies.

Here, I share with you some pictures of the baking process and the results:
  • Creaming the butter and sugar. Soften the butter first, add in mixing bowl, then gradually sift in brown sugar and cream together. I left it with a slight grainy texture, just making sure that it was thoroughly blended.
  •  Adding the egg and flour to the creamed butter and sugar. Gradually add the flour to the other ingredients in between mixing. I mixed by hand, using a regular metal spoon. Gradually adding the flour makes it easier to create an even distribution of the ingredients in the cookie dough.
  •  Mixing the dough, gradually adding chocolate chips. Once stirring gets too difficult, soften the cookie dough by adding a splash of milk. I'd recommend using a metal spoon (of good quality) or a wooden spoon to mix and knead the dough. Once all the ingredients are added, the consistency of the cookie dough makes it less mallable.
  •  Once the cookie dough is ready, I took spoonfuls of cookie dough and scooped them into a daisy flower cookie sheet. This was the baking mold I had on hand. It's made of silicone, so once complete, the cookies should pop right now. I did however, grease the cookie molds using a leftover butter wrapper, running it along the inside of each daisy shape just to make sure.
  •  Left over cookie dough from the mixture rolled into balls and placed on baking sheet. The daisy molds make twenty-four cookies; I molded the leftover cookie dough into round balls and placed them on a baking sheet. I baked them at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Here are the completed cookies from the daisy mold. They should pop right out! As is evident by the two missing cookies in the bottom right corner - they literally popped out when I pulled them out of the oven! Be careful with silicone trays, they may not look like they would be as hot as metal baking sheets/molds, but they are! Also, if not handled carefully, the cookies may easily slip out of the molds during removal from the oven.
  •  The cookies outside of the daisy molds!
  •  Daisy shaped cookies topped with chocolate chips. I added a variety of baking chocolate chips in the center of each flower, for the larger chocolate toppings, I used Hershey's Kisses. Make sure to add any chocolate garnish before the cookies are completely cooled. I love, love, love chocolate, so I couldn't resist adding more chocolate on top. Unfortunately, I remembered to add chocolate garnish a bit late in the game, so some of the chocolate chip garnishes did not stick.
  •  Completed round cookies from the baking sheet. I once again added a chocolate chip as garnish for some of the cookies. I know, the cookies are definitely out of shape! BUT, at least they tasted pretty good. In order to get a better shape, roll dough into even sized round balls and place on the baking sheet in even increments. I used a spoon to scoop the dough and place it on the baking sheet, thus the shapes were uneven.

Thoughts from a cooking novice:

Whew! Honestly, they turned out better than I expected! This was my first time cooking peanut butter cookies from scratch (not counting cooking camp in fourth grade - yep, bringing that up again). It was a lot of fun for me and quite a stress reliever.

Like with the sugar cookies, the peanut butter cookies may not have all turned out pretty looking, but they did taste pretty good. One thing I picked up on with regards to my baking is that my cookies so far have had a tendency of being less sweet than a standard cookie you would buy at the grocery store. Personally, I don't mind this outcome at all. Sometimes, I really want to eat a cookie, but not feel the need to guzzle down a gallon of water or compensate by eating salty foods afterward.

Baking is of course a learning process, so hopefully, my flaws in 'technique' will work themselves out. Baking itself seems to be an art form. You can have one standard item, and have many different recipes to achieve the results. Even different recipes can be followed in different ways and lead to similar or differing results. Getting just a tad bit philosophical, baking can be as diverse as people. Okay, so that sounded a lot better in my head - before I typed it out...haha.

Until the next post, lovelies! Keeping smiling, tomorrow's a new day!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Cooking Quirks: Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

Hello worldly dots!

A couple of days ago, I decided to take on the challenge of making made from scratch "Old-Fashioned sugar cookies". I came home from a trip to visit family, looked into my fridge and cupboards and realized that I have almost a whole bag of self-rising flour still. I purchased the flour to use for the infamous "cake in a mug" - which I have yet to completely master. I thought, 'what in the world am I to do with all of this self-rising flour?' I then proceeded to look up recipes for easy baked goods to make using self rising flour.

I've always wanted to learn how to cook, baking in particular has struck my fancy. Since I am quite the novice cook, I thought it might be fun to take you all along for the cooking ride by posting blog entries (and possibly vlogs) about my foray into the culinary arts. Here for you, I have my first attempt (in recent years - since cooking camp in fourth grade is much too long ago to count) at making homemade sugar cookies. I used a recipe I found on Yummly of a recipe by Taste of Home.

The recipe can be found on the link for Taste of Home. Normally, it takes about 25 minutes to prep and bake. It took me a bit longer, I also made my own minor modifications to the recipe as I went along. I do not own the original recipe; the recipe below is a slightly modified version of the original recipe found on Taste of Home for "Old-Fashioned Cutout Cookies".

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine softened (if using stick butter, there should be measurement approximations on the wrapper - on the margarine I used, it was approximately four lines) [butter and margarine have a slight difference, although the original recipe calls for butter, margarine worked just fine. Most of the time, I use margarine to bake - it's a bit cheaper in price than butter, but some would argue that butter is more health concise due to it's configuration -- margarine has more trans fat, which is harder for the body to break down -- please don't quote me on this, it's been a couple of years since I've taken biochemistry.]
  • 3/4 cup sugar
    [I used regular white, granulated sugar. If you really want to be daring, maybe try using pure cane sugar, or maybe brown sugar - keep in mind that brown sugar, etc. tend to be sweeter than regular sugar so you may have to modify the amount - also, the taste would vary from the original recipe.]
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon whole milk
    [Although the recipe calls for whole milk, you can substitute using your milk of choice. Also, although I did use 1 teaspoon whole milk initially for the batter, I ended up adding a splash more later on when the dough became too difficult to mix.]
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 + 1/2  cup self-rising flour
  • additional sugar or ingredients for garnish as you see fit
  1. Cream sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl using a spoon until texture is light and fluffy. Then add in egg, milk, and vanilla. Continue to stir by hand. Gradually add self-rising flour while mixing.
    [As you continue mixing in the flour, the batter will thicken. If there is still flour needed to be mixed, but the dough is too tough to continue stirring, add a splash of milk to make the dough more malleable -- I ended up adding a splash of milk, then kneaded the dough by hand, remembering to rub flour on my hands to prevent excess sticking -- of course the dough was still too sticky and a good amount got stuck to my hands, but I digress.]
  2. Lightly sprinkle flour on a surface (I used foil) to roll the dough on. Roll flat, then use a cookie cutter (the suggested method) to shape the cookies. The original recipe calls to flatten the dough to about 1/8 in.
    [Since I had no cookie cutters on hand, I attempted to hand shape the cookies. I made them each about 1/2 in. in height -- they rose to about 1 in. in height after baking. After a while, I ended up leaving about half of the dough in a flat rectangular-like shape -- I used a knife to perforate the dough into squares/rectangles.]
  3. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 7 to 8 min, or until the edges are lightly brown.
    [It took a little longer to bake my cookies due to the thickness; I also used a lower heat -- 350 degrees Fahrenheit -- make sure to check on cookies after a few minutes to monitor progress.]
  4. When ready, remove from oven and allow to cool. Garnish as you would like.
    [I preferred to leave the cookies as is -- See photo below to see what my cookies looked like after I took them out of the oven.]
Cookie Sheet:
I then cut the cookie 'lump' into squares, using perforated lines.
Although the cookies themselves do not look as appealing as the picture from the original recipe, they did turn out pretty well -- all things considering. They tasted pretty yummy too. Not too sweet, but not tasteless -- I like to think they turned out pretty well for a cooking novice. :)

Finished Product:
 Afterthoughts of a cooking novice:

Well, that was my first attempt at homemade cookies. Not perfect appearance-wise, but pretty tasty anyways. As if I really need to eat anymore cookies. haha. I hope you'll join me on my next cooking adventure. :)

I may not be the best cook, and maybe I should have learned to cook when I was a bit younger, but either way, I am learning now. So, if you want to learn along with me, then feel free to read-on my fellow Internet enthusiasts. :)

Do you have any cooking ventures you'd like to share? Both successes and not so successful attempts? I'd love to hear about them.

Well, keep smiling, lovelies! Tomorrow's a new day filled with new adventures. :)


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day - Not Just for Lovers

Hello lovebugs!

Happy Valentine's Day! Whether you are celebrating with a special someone, family, friends, or on your own, it's a day about love and of course a day you can eat chocolate relatively guilt-free.

During this time of year, you have people who are entirely in love with love. There's red and pink everywhere, paper hearts, candies, balloons, teddy bears, and the infamous CHOCOLATE. Yes, chocolate had to be in all caps. I quite fancy chocolate, as do most people.

Sometimes single folks get put down on this particular holiday that seems to revolve around relationships. However, just because you are single, it does not mean that your super happily taken friends have to have all the fun. You can make the day what you want it to be. In fact, to be able to truly love someone else, you have to love yourself first. It does not make you conceited, it just means that you respect yourself and are happy about who you are. You don't need to rush to find "Mr. Prince Charming" because love will come when it is supposed to come.

Don't worry about being single. You can enjoy this day too! Celebrate with family or friends, or just give yourself a fun break from life. Maybe catch a movie, make something special to eat, or even just take a break from studying for a couple of hours!

Here's a few things you can do to celebrate Valentine's Day as a happy single:
  • Make a special meal and take and post pics. Treat yourself with something you make for yourself. It doesn't have to be anything too fancy or intricate. Today, I made myself a relatively healthy lunch, that still made me smile.
    I love, love, love taking food pics! I take pictures of food when I eat out, but I really love to take pictures of my own food creations, even if it's just a simple sandwich. It's all in good fun. Sometimes, my friends probably think I'm like the people in this video: 

  • Stay in and watch a romantic comedy, or maybe catch up on your favorite TV series.

He's Just Not That Into You is personally one of my favorites. And my friends and I have talked about a Grey's Anatomy night complete with snacks and wine (for those of age of course).
  • And as the previous Grey's image (courtesy of Pinterest) suggests, have a short dance party! Seriously, it can lighten the mood and add energy.
For those who may need a kick-butt song as a reminder for not needing a partner to be happy...

And finally, please enjoy this cute puppy video greeting I found on youtube:

Remember, today is about love. To love others, you must first love yourself. So don't fret if you're single on Valentine's Day, share the love with those you care about and for yourself. :)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hugs & hearts,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

About Me - A Short, Sweet, & Simple Introduction

Hello, everyone! I'm dottedlattes (on this blog, Polyvore, Pinterest, & Tumblr) and this is my blog.

So, there's not much to say at the moment. If I had to sum up the purpose of this blog and its contents in a concise manner, I would use the term eclectic. It is going to be a hodge-podge of many things I suppose. I love inspirational quotes, fashion, photography, and just love posting cute about cute things in general. But don't let my posts fool you, I do like academic things too! haha. I love learning about psychology, and essentially what is on this blog are some of the aspects of my life I try to fit into my busy schedule! I have recently starting to teach myself how to cook (with advice from my wonderful mother!), and always seem to take pictures, so if this turns into a food blog of sorts - don't be surprised! :)

I'll try to update this section and reformat things a bit latter. Thanks for stopping by! And remember to SMILE! :)

Hugs & hearts,