Thursday, December 31, 2015

Crispy Craisin Oatmeal Cookies With White Chocolate Drizzle

I can't believe it's the last day of 2015. This has probably the most action packed year - from taking my USMLE exams for residency (part 1 and 2!) to going to Africa to work with HIV pediatric patients to applying for residency (ah, 4th year!) and of course getting engaged.
I'm excited to be done with interviews for the holidays. I've flown all over the country and somehow I managed to get through the trail without booking a single hotel - thank goodness for friends and family (and various degrees of separation)!

What's even more nice is seeing Bryan every 2 weeks through the past 2 months as our schedule matched up. It's like having a real life fiancé lol.

I spent the early holidays with his family, and of course I always bake for them. B's mother loves oatmeal cookies, and these crispy oatmeal cookie, adapted from Joy of Baking, are extra special with a secret ingredient to make them crunchy.

Can you guess? They're rice crispies (or using what I had already, Kashi)!
This is the first year, I didn't leave out cookies and milk for Santa. I did make cookies - they just happened to be eaten by a certain fiance first.

N: *Takes out cookies hot from the oven*
B: Oh my, I needed to check these cookies to ensure freshness. *eats immediately*
N: Y U eat my cookies already!! Wait for the white chocolate drizzle first!!!! D:
Thank you to all my readers who've supported and followed me ^_^ 2016 is going to be an exciting year!

Crispy Craisin Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Drizzle

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup crasins
1 cups rice cereal (I used Kashi GoLean)

1 bar white chocolate*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)

CRISPY CRAISIN OATMEAL COOKIES: With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and honey and stir manually until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually pour the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix manually until just incorporated. Stir in the oats, white chocolate chips, and then gently stir in the rice cereal. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about one hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the chilled dough into 2-3 inch balls then flatten the cookies slightly with your palm. Bake the cookies for about 10 - 13 minutes or until golden brown. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack.

Chop the white chocolate bar roughly and place in a metal bowl. On a double boiler, heat the water to a simmer. Slowly melt the chocolate; add vegetable oil to thin if needed. Drizzle white chocolate using the fork over cookies and let cool to harden.

* Melting White Chocolate 101 (Chowhound)
  • Use high quality white chocolate bars. Chips will have stabilizers that affect melting. Only white chocolate that has cocoa butter will melt and can be drizzled - Ghirardelli, Baker's, and Lindt are suggested options
  • When using a double boiler, keep the water only at a simmer. Do not boil the water - if it's too hot the chocolate will seize. 
  • Don't get any moisture into the chocolate or it will seize. 

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Coconut Matcha Frappuccino

Between coffee and tea, I'll always go for tea. Especially green tea. B says my blood is actually comprised of green tea... very dilute green tea ("water" as he calls it) - just the way I like to drink my tea.

Also, I have a great affinity for coconuts. B (being the devoted fiance) has chopped probably almost a hundred coconuts for me over the past 5 years. B also says the part of my blood that's not green tea is coconut juice.
As I've been back in California several times over the last few months for medical conferences, residency interviews, and (right now) visiting the future in-laws , I'm always astounded by the sheer number of Asians as well as the Asian influences - the best one being snacks and desserts of course. From sesame shaved ice to coconut mochi to green tea cakes, I've gained, er, a few pounds on the interview trail.
One of my favorite indulgences is the Starbucks frappuccino. For a student on a budget (not only money-wise, but also calorie-wise), this recipe is a great alternative, all while adding my favorite asian flavors. Also, it's vegan friendly (yup, I'm definitely in NorCal/Bay Area right now).

I've mixed up the matcha frappe with coconut milk, made by grating of the white inner flesh of a brown coconut. This adds an awesome rich flavor that other milks just don't have. Again, I'm working with the awesome Aiya matcha to bring you this fun frappe - that gorgeous green color is 100% real.
I love the artsy colors. Layering matcha with the coconut milk makes it super pretty.

The peak of my artsiness and creativity was during college - a lifetime ago! Visiting Stanford years later now, I've been astonished by all the changes in the art department - a brand new building and and a gorgeous new art museum. Alas, my old art studios lie half demolished ("Good riddance, I spent many midnights in that horrible studio cleaning your paintbrushes as a sign of my undying love" - B).
I won't bore you with rehashing all the superfood and health benefits of matcha, as you can read about matcha facts in my other recipes - Ombre Matcha Lemon Cake and Mini Green Tea and Chocolate Mousse Cake. Enjoy this delicious drink!

Coconut Matcha Frappuccino

2 cups almond milk
1 tbsp Aiya matcha
1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 cup ice cubes, crushed
1/2 cup coconut milk
whipped cream
black sesame seeds, to garnish

Divide the almond milk into 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup. In a blender, blend 1 1/2 cups of the almond milk, matcha, honey, and ice.

In a mason jar, combine coconut milk and the remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk. To layer the frappucino, carefully scoop the blended matcha so it floats on top of the coconut/almond milk mixture. Serve in a tall glass topped generously with whipped cream and black sesame seeds. Enjoy!
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Sunday, December 6, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Pomegranate Tart

Undeniably, I am a nerd. B tells me this all the time when I read "weird things" and sprout out random facts (my "fun facts of the day").
My first introduction to pomegranates was the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades. Because she ate 6 seeds of the pomegranate from the underworld, she remains there for 6 months while her mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest, mourns, hence giving us seasons.

Another story is that the forbidden fruit, plucked and eaten by Adam and Eve, was not an apple, but the pomegranate. As the fruit originates from Iran, and the word "pomme garnete" literally means seeded apple in French, it makes sense. As lovely as apples are, pomegranates are probably the most beautiful fruits in the world, tempting anyone walking by.
The reason my eyesight is terrible is (according to my mother) all my years reading in the dark or in the car during elementary school. Since the end of high school, I've kept a to-read list, now going over 7 years, ranging from art to history to science to religion. Alas, while in medical school the ratio of "to-read" vs "already-read" books has grown alarmingly, during interview season I've been voraciously knocking books off the "to-read" list. 

Even on vacation, I can't help but read about medicine, which by far comprises the majority of the list. The last few weeks I've tackled women's health (Half the Sky), error in surgeries (The Checklist Manifesto), and most recently - my favorite so far given the topic - the history of cancer (The Emperor of All Maladies).

Cancer and nutrition is such a hot topic today - the buzzword "superfoods" certainly was nonexistent when we muddled our way through cancer treatments centuries, or even decades, ago. Antioxidants are one of those terms we like to throw around despite have little knowledge of how it works (much like everything in cancer). Pomegranates, in particular, have been aggressively marketed as offering protection against heart disease and cancer.

I cannot promise you eating dark chocolate and pomegranates will reduce your rates of cancer, but I can promise you eating No Bake Chocolate Pomegranate Tarts will make you happier. 
Eating pomegranates is tricky, but the best way is to scoring it in a 5 pointed star with a knife and carefully breaking it open. I love the color of the arils, or seeds, and how the juices burst as you open the fruit. Here's a great step by step picture guide, so more juices end up in your mouth, rather than on your hands. That gorgeous ruby color and delicious sweet-tartness is something your eyes, belly, and maybe even your DNA molecules, can all enjoy. 

No Bake Chocolate Pomegranate Tart

CRUST (adapted from my No Bake Granola Bars recipe)
1 cup packed pitted dates pitted, chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (the less sugar the better)
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats, toasted
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
fresh pomegranate arils

CRUST (full recipe details here): Use a food processor or blender to blend the dates to form a dough, adding water as needed (I used about 1/4 cup water, depending on how dry your dates are). Mix dates, honey, peanut butter, oats, cinnamon in a large bowl to make the dough. Add in chocolate chips.

Use the dough to form the crusts in round removable bottom tartlet tins. Place in the fridge for 1 hr or freezer for 30 min to set.

FILLING: Combine the yogurt and honey. Fill the chilled tarts with the honey Greek yogurt, then top with the pomegranate arils. Serve immediately or place in the freezer for 20 min if you want your yogurt firmer. Enjoy!

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