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Chasing Sunsets

Lots of times, I know I should be doing one thing but I find myself resisting and doing something completely different and unrelated. 

I should have been running errands, cleaning the house, editing, calling or writing people back and etc but I found myself driving towards the Sunset, anxious to snap a mental picture of such fleeting beauty (that I seem to altogether miss almost always) and then, snap an actual picture of it.

Since the full moon last week, I’ve been in a funny mood.  There’s something to be said about the swollen yellow tinged Moon that stares down so intensely at you as if watching your every mood.  Am I paranoid?  Perhaps.  My bff used to work in the ER and tells me that Full Moons would see an influx of Crazies coming in for all sorts of things.  Also, “Full Moons Make Me Crazy”

I’ve had Lana Del Rey on repeat, driving aimlessly away from my original destinations and then, there are times like today when I feel compelled to drive towards the glittering Sun, waving Goodbye.  I’m a strange creature who is so afraid of the dark, yet stubbornly nocturnal, dreading bed time as if I really believe that I’ll miss out on something if I go to bed.  There’s a reason that they say “nothing good ever happens past two.”  I know this.  Adolescent me knows that only too well!  (lol)

I woke up the other morning, having been chased by Zombies in my dreams.  I also have these recurring dreams where everything is greatly slanted.  Like a stadium where the seats are screwed on a great diagonal from low to high but in my dream, everything is like that and you even have to walk that way to abide by the order of that realm.  In that realm, apparently everything is slanted.  Yesterday morning, I woke up crying.  Real tears that saturated my pillow case.  I woke up realizing that I was crying but not knowing why.  Of course, the curious Squishy Monster that I am Googled it.  Sometimes, Google is my only friend.  The aforementioned dreams are all connected to some sort of repressed trauma, reviving itself in my sub conscious in an attempt to resurface in reality and meet some sort of resolution.  I am unaware past that point.

However, I’m anticipating tonight’s Dreams.  I’m always fascinated by my own Dreams.  They’re like Movies that I didn’t have to pay a ticket for.

Here’s to hoping I don’t have any dreadful ones tonight!

XOXO
 Your Squishy Monster

I scream, You scream

2 slight variations of basically the same Ice Cream Cake.  The first, top cake is featured in my video below, the second is one I made for my baby brother’s birthday in February.  Both are equally delicious.

For the Birthday Ice Cream Cake, I followed the same method but replaced the Thin Mint Crust for a Cinnamon Toast Crunch (cereal) Crust and incorporated a ton of Oreos instead of Thin Mints and stood up cookies on the edges for an Oreo border.

Here’s how to make the easiest Ice Cream Cake ever!

  • 1 tub of softened, Ice Cream/Gelato of your choice
  • 2 package/box of Cookies
  • 1 1/2 c crushed Cookies + 6 tb melted Butter
  • Melted Chocolate or any other Garnish you’d like 
  1. Mix your crushed Cookies and melted Butter and press them onto the bottom of a parchment lined baking pan
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your softened Ice Cream and Cookie Crumbles (I used about 10-12 but how many you want depends on you).  This is also your opportunity to add in any other extracts or flavorings you’d like.
  3. Slide in half your Ice Cream mixture onto your prepared Crust (no need to bake, the freezer will take care of it).
  4. Drizzle on melted Chocolate between your first and second layer of Ice Cream.
  5. Smooth on your second/top layer of Ice Cream and liberally load up with any remaining Cookie crumbles or Chocolate.
  6. Freeze for at least 3 hours and enjoy with whipped Cream and sprinkles 😉

I find myself mindlessly staring into an open Fridge (often)!  On those days that I spy a lonely container of plain Ice Cream, I feel like a boss when I can turn it into something so much more.  It looks pretty impressive for not really being so and the combinations are endless.  I love experimenting with different Cereals, Cookies, Ice Creams, flavorings, etc. 

Frozen Banana + Chocolate?
Nutella with crushed Hazelnuts?
Key Lime with Fresh Strawberries?
Pineapple Sorbet with Coconut Curls?

Once you open yourself up to the possibilities that a Grocery store or even your own Kitchen can bring, it’s crazy fun to see what your mind and hands can come up with. 

Makin’ old things new.

Love,
Your Squishy Monster =D

Pink Deviled Easter Eggs!

cos that’s just how I roll.  lol, kidding (though if allowed, I may just make everything Pink).

Mama used to make colored deviled Eggs for us when we were Kids.  It was something that she kind of stopped doing as we got older.  This year, I decided to bring ’em back.  I reason that there’s no sense in stopping a perfectly great tradition just become the word “adult” got in the way. 

You can make a tray of bright and vibrant Limes, Corals, Baby Blues, etc.  I decided to use up the Beet that looked so lonesome in the back of our fridge and cooked them off to use the liquid that they produce; a deep blushing Fuchsia, that when Eggs are dunked into are transformed into a lovely Pink vehicle for creamy, deviled Eggs 😉 Similarly, you can also use Hibiscus Flowers.

Perfectly Boiled Eggs:

  • You want to begin with cool water from your tap and have at least 1-2″ of Water covering the surface of your Eggs.  You also want to heat everything together (do not dip Eggs into pre-boiled Water). It also greatly helps with peeling later if you add in about 1-2 ts Salt. When it reaches a ferocious bubble, turn off the heat altogether and clamp the lid on your pot.  Allow it to sit there (idly) for 15-20 min (no heat).  Drain, rinse in cold water, and peel your cool or warm (not hot) Eggs.

“Deviling” Eggs:

  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 2 tb Mayo
  • 1 ts Mustard (any kind will do)
  • 1/2 ts Sugar
  • 1/2 ts white Vinegar
  • S & P

You can always just spoon the mixture into your “Egg Cups” too.  Garnish with smoked Paprika, bits of Chive, Parsley, Pepper Rings, Crumbled Bacon, Cheese, Olives, Dill, Cucumber, Infused Oil, Capers, Salmon, Shrimp, etc.

Happy Easter & Happy Eatin’!

XOXO
Your Squishy Monster =D

Nothing Like a Fruit Tart

to make you smile.

Today has been another one of those rough days.  I wonder to myself if other people have as many rough days as I do and my friends reassure me that “normal” is a slanted scale that applies to no one, therefore “normal” becomes rather obsolete, lol.

I also broke a dish.  I seem to break a lot of dishes…and cups…and bowls for that matter!  LOL.  I’m very much a klutz.  I know, I know I seem so composed and elegant (haha) but now that I think about it, I really do seem to break a lot of dishes and I know that I break more dishes on days I’m preoccupied or flustered.  Today, I couldn’t seem to catch my breath.

Enough on that.  Let’s move on to happier things.  Fruit makes me happy.  Fruit Tarts make me even happier.  No matter what the situation was, growing up, we always had lots of fresh Fruit.  It’s how we ended most meals and what we’d have for Breakfasts, Snacks, you name it.  I remember how thrilled I was when I discovered the concept of stretching Fruit out to pack different flavor punches.  I distinctly remember my first bite of a fresh slab of grilled Pineapple, dripping with it’s own juices and glossed over with melted Chocolate.  Now that is something deserving of a “foodgasm.”

Not much harder to achieve is this Fruit Tart.  People seem to get spooked whenever “Tart” is mentioned.  I think it has to do with it’s neat fluted edges that comprise of what most people freak out about: Tart Pastry.  I’m not gonna lie.  Rolling out Pastry is not one of my favorite things to do.  Then again, I wasn’t too keen on Play-Doh as a kid.  I watched too many of my friends eating the stuff.  It never appealed to me.  So don’t worry.  I wouldn’t impose upon you something that I wouldn’t do myself.  This Tart Pastry is endlessly forgiving.  It’s a matter of Mix and Smoosh.

Tart Pastry:

  • 2 sticks of softened, unsalted Butter
  • 8 oz of softened Cream Cheese (full fat, of course)!
  • 2 cups Flour + 1 ts fine salt
    • Cream together your Butter & Cream Cheese (you can smear it with a wooden spoon but a mixer is muuuch easier)
    • After your Butter/Cheese mixture is nicely combined and fluffy, begin sprinkling in your Flour/Salt.  I would do about 3 separate additions.
      • At this point, mix on low, sprinkle, and STOP when the dough comes together.  A soft, smooth dough ball will form. 
      • Gently press the dough evenly up and around your pan, squishing it into every crevice.  You want it to be pretty even.  
      • Pop your prepared pans into the fridge for 1 hour
      • To pre-bake: line the inside with wax or foil and fill with dried beans or rice.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 min.

Pastry Cream:

  • 1 c Heavy Cream + 1 c full fat Milk
  • 1 scraped Vanilla Bean
  • 2 Yolks
  • 6 tb Sugar
  • 2 tb Corn Starch (Corn Flour)
    • Constantly whisk and cook until it bubbles and thickens.
    • Cool and directly lay cling film on the surface of your Cream and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
      • If your Pastry Cream is lumpy, just pass it through a fine mesh sieve.

To assemble:

  • Tip your cooled Pastry Cream into your cooled Tart shell.  Arrange whatever seasonal Berries you’d like on top.  Take a Pastry Brush and lightly brush the tops of each fruit with this mixture: 2 tb Jelly + 2 ts Water, zap in the microwave for a 20-30 sec, cool and brush on top of Fruit to make it glisten and shine.

 Breakin’ Dishes & Makin’ Berries Shine

Love,
Your only temporarily sad Squishy Monster

XOXO!!!

Random Illustrations of My Weekend

There was (of course) a lot of Food

Oysters (twice) because I love them so much!!

New York Strip (rare) with Pommes Purée and I have no idea why it won’t let up on the italics 😦
but anyways (they’re just Mashed Potatoes) and I think that that alone should have been an indication of what was to come.  Pretentious food at pretentious prices.  My Steak was sooo expensive and not very good 😦  <–insert the appropriate sad, upset face here!

Pud Khana (seriously, what is UP with the Italics, lol) at my favorite Thai joint.  As always, delish!  I always ask for Shrimp, 5 Stars and I guess depending on who’s in the back making it, sometimes it’s so fiercely spicy your eyes start to tear up and you have to ask for extra napkins while other times, it’s so mild, you wonder if the Waitress forgot to ring it in as “extra spicy.”  Either way, I find the smell of Thai Food to have such a heady aroma, it makes my whole body tingle in anticipation for my spiced and spicy fix.  Crazy as it sounds, it’s very true =D
 I picked this up as an impulse purchase at Trader Joe’s and gosh, it’s delicious!  It tastes like Chocolate Cake, in a bar!

This is my Friend’s refrigerator.  They don’t have anything edible in their Fridge except endless bottles of Pellegrino.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  Oh and a single lost bottle of Champagne to keep them company.  Love it.

Even these fictional graffiti people found love *sigh* though, doesn’t it look like she’s grabbing him inappropriately?  (no, just me)?  ^.^

I was told that this Mural depicts actual townspeople.  That’s so cool.  I wish I could be immortalized on a public wall so that random Asian girls could snap a photo and blog about it, LOL

Classic.

On the right, is the Mural.  On the left is the Fire Department.  On the same Street are like 4 bars.  My friend wanted to know what I was doing, lol.

I fantasize about sultry summer nights, dining al fresco in my backyard with beautiful, gleaming lights strung up on the branches of all the trees that live in my backyard.  Maybe some Paella or Tortellini in a thick cheese sauce, or Cherry Pie while you listen to the birds go crazy (as they always seem to do at allll hours of the night).  Silly birds, Cherry Pie is just for Squishy Monsters! =D

Maybe I’m a crazy bird who never wants to go to sleep. 

Hm, maybe.

Love you.

and you.

XOXO
Your Squishy Monster (in italics) ^.^

Mixing Rice

That over yonder is what Westerners like to poke fun at when vacationing in Korea.  Everywhere you look there are hilariously nonsensical phrases that are squished together.  Whether it be a jab at being comical and making fun of themselves or what, it appears that lots of Korean companies enlist the help of “Engrish” to sell their merchandise.  I returned from my last visit with armfuls of cute Strawberry scented Stationary–all of which read “to the loving most that we can spend time, you and me.  loving so!”  Our first Korean “Mega-Market” just opened up down the street and needless to say, I was pretty stoked.  On a banner, prominently displayed in the center of their store, it reads: “Bringing to you the Fresh of Seafood, knowing always, the best!”  lol, but on a serious note, I will literally have a party the day when I can go to one single Market to buy my International and American Groceries.  I’ve noticed more and more the international aisle expanding everyday in my regular Marketplace, but the day that I can purchase my various Korean Pastes and schmancy Cheeses will be the day!!

There I go rambling again, lol.  I bring up Engrish because a). I find it endearing, not an ounce of me is referring to it in an insulting or malicious manner.  As I always like to say…”A+ for effort!!” and b). Mixing Rice is exactly what I’m sharing with you today.  CNN reported that it’s among the 50 of the most delicious foods in the World–the World, people…pay attention!  =D

In my humble opinion, I find it to be a visual stunner.  She’s a gorgeous thing with all sorts of colorful veggies stacked up neatly in a circle on her bed of hot, fluffy rice.  She even has a sunny, Yellow Hat!  One of the most beautiful aspects of this dish is that every ingredient has something different to bring to the table (literally).  For example, there’s the Fern Brake that’s chewy and tender, you get satisfying crunch from the Sprouts, gooey richness from the Yolk, a gentle smokiness all around from the Sesame Oil and etc, which brings me to the point that you can really make Bibimbap with whatever you have, like, or is one sale. (Really, I could go on and on but I doubt anyone wants to read an abridged book version of my love for Korean food). 

It’s best served in Dolsot Bibimbap form.  (The same dish but served in a very cool (hot, lol) Stone Pot).  I’m very, very sad to say that I do not own one.  It’s fantastic because it serves your entire meal piping hot and it develops a delicious, blistered rice crust on the bottom that you can later swirl around with hot water to drink and cleanse your palette with.

With Bibimbap, you can serve it any which way you’d like.

Here are some other options:
Zucchini, Tofu, Chicken/Fish/Pork, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Romaine Lettuce (Mom is particularly fond of crunchy, refreshing pieces of Romaine running through her bowl, it definitely provides a nice burst of cracklin’ freshness)!, Squid Jerky, Daikon, Carrots, Burdock or Bellflower Root, Broccolini, Baby Bok Choy, insert here ____ <<- go wild and crazy.

If you don’t like the idea of all the Sesame Oil, sub with Olive Oil or whatever Fat replacement you’ve got goin’ on.  I don’t feel it tastes the same, but do your thang!!

Here is me and Mom’s Bibimbap!

  • 1 sunny side Egg
  • 1 c blanched Soy Bean Sprouts
  • 1 c blanched Spinach 
  • 1 c Kimchi + 1/2 tb Butter + 1-2 slices of Bacon
  • 5-7 Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1 c cooked Fern Brake (Gosari)
  • 1 c julienned Mu (Korean Radish)
  • 1 c Bulgogi *recipe below
  • 1 c crumbled roasted Seaweed
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sesame Seed
  • Green Onions
  • Garlic
  • S & P to taste
  • Red Pepper Paste *recipe below

Spinach & Soy Bean Sprouts

  1. Blanch both in hot water until the Sprouts are tender.  Extract the Spinach immediately after it’s wilted (do not over cook)!  Plunge into ice cold water pronto and squeeze out any excess moisture.
  2. This will apply to both: drizzle in about 1/2 tb Sesame Oil, 2 ts Sesame Seeds, 1 1/2 ts minced Garlic, 2 ts chopped Green Onion and S & P to taste

Kimchi

  1. Fry the Bacon until it gets nice and juicy, throw in the Kimchi with the Butter and cook until the Kimchi has softened.

Mushrooms, Fern Brake, Mu

  1. Glaze the pan in between each with Sesame Oil (about 1/2 tb- 1 tb or so), stir fry each with 1 ts Soy Sauce, 2 ts Garlic, 2 ts Sesame Seed, and 2 ts Green Onion.  S & P to taste.

 Bulgogi (you can also use hamburger meat instead)

  1. Submerge your 1 c of Beef (thinly sliced, it’s easier to slice it paper thin if you pop it in the Freezer for a bit) into this marinade:
    • 1/4 c Soy Sauce
    • 1 tb Sesame Oil
    • 2 tb Brown Sugar
    • 2 tb Honey
    • 2 tb of Asian Pear or Coke
    • 2 ts Garlic
    • 1/2 ts Ginger
    • 2 ts Sesame Seed
    • 1 stalk Green Onion
    • Liberal amount of fresh Pepper

Pepper Paste “Sauce”

  1. Combine 4 tb Pepper Paste (Gochujang) + 1 1/2 tb Sesame Oil + 2 ts Sesame Seed + 1 ts Sugar
  2. Mix well and drizzle over your dish.

To Assemble:

  1. In the center of your bowl, lay a bed of Rice.
  2. Arrange your Veggies and Meat on top of your rice.
  3. Top with your Egg
  4. Sprinkle with Sesame Seed or Green Onions
  5. Drizzle with Pepper Paste “Sauce”
  6. Mix together thoroughly and enjoy.
    • (This goes very well with a clear Soup).

 Serves 2

About to rush downstairs to have another bowl…
Your Squishy Monster =D

Adventures in Fine Dining

I may not be obsessed with Manolo Blahnik’s but I do enjoy the romance of a night on the town at a nice Restaurant.  However, the last few spots have been rather underwhelming.  My friend wanted me to meet his new girl, and we all decided on this new Restaurant that everyone has been positively raaaving about.  It’s tucked into one nondescript parking lot, wedged in between subsidized housing and homes that may just very well be featured in Home & Garden.  I suppose it’s some sort of poetic irony to be “slumming” it in the cut whilst gnawing away at a $50 Steak, clutching your new Louie?

I’m not gonna beat around the bush here.  Remember when I reported on how pretentious it was for the Waiter to replace my chopsticks from Appetizer to Dinner at the last place?  Sure, I want another spoon if it’s transitioning between soup to cake but I don’t think I’ll die if the same tip that touched my Wontons touches my Noodles.  Perhaps I’m alone on this, and perhaps I’m making too much of it.  I just so hate waste.  I don’t believe for a second that one, single dinner should require 3-6 plates/guest.  That seems absurd to me.  


So, this new spot.  We received more plates than actual food:

This was their featured “Cheese Plate.”  “Meant to share” insisted our Waitress.  We received 4–yes 4 mere shards of toasted Crackers as a vehicle to eat the Cheese.  I don’t really care that the ridiculous expense of this plate came from non existent dots of Truffle reduction.  *sigh*  Still, if this were spectacular and held my body in foodgasm (how I measure my food experience), you would be reading praise, not complaints but don’t give out on me yet–the night gets better (a bit).

$28 for CHICKEN.  Chicken Breast.  The winning point to this plate: notice the globs of Potatoes.  Wasabi whipped Potatoes.  The single redeeming pinnacle of Dinner.  They had such a creamy mouth feel–like buttery clouds spiked with a heavy dose of slap-in-your-face *ZING!*

This was good.  Not OMG great but good.  I especially loved the random Chocolate “crinkles” that littered the plate…great contrast to the decadence of Flourless Chocolate Cake and cold, creamy Ice Cream.  We were told that the Ice Cream was made in house.  I can always appreciate that but again, for what we paid, it should have been absolutely fabulous–not good.  My rule of thumb for dining out is usually this: I want my mouth to be treated to something that a). I cannot duplicate exactly at home or b). is something so arduously time consuming that I’d rather you (the Restaurant) take the time and care to make it for me.  Of course, this isn’t always the case but I feel that (especially) in a Fine dining setting, your expectations should  be higher because you’re paying that much more for it.  


For almost $50/guest, I feel like the experience should have been commensurate (at the very least) to what we paid.  I feel like one should walk away with the tingle of delicious memories still washing over you.  Maybe I missed something, that could very well be possible, but I don’t think I did.  This experience shall not deter my exploration into Fine dining.  I just hope the next place is so great that I want to blog about it more than once!


XOXO
Your-still-hungry
Squishy Monster ^.^