Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dad's Favorite (Peanut Butter M&M Candy Cookies)

Dear Dad and Mom,
I don’t even know where to begin in expressing my utmost gratitude for all the unconditional love you have shown me these past almost 26 years. I cannot believe I’m getting married today, but fear not, I am certainly not leaving the family - rather, I’m just acquiring a new son for you!
Well reality has sunk it, and I've slowly adjusted to a new ring in one hand and a husband on the other. The hardest part about getting married is the idea of symbolically leaving the family (My cousin says, "In reality absolutely nothing changes in your relationship after marriage - when your car breaks down and your hubby is sick, and you need a ride, you end up calling your parents to bail you out anyway").
Being sentimental, I wrote long letters to many people for the wedding day, but the longest letter by far went to my parents. It was the both the easiest linquistically and the hardest emotionally to write, but I was very happy with the writing in the end (dare I say, it even beat my letter to the groom).

I'll spare you the long details of the letter, but in short, I'd like to dedicate this post to my rock star parents, who not only remain married after 27 years, but genuinely are still madly in love. And they'e raised pretty awesome kids (in my humble opinion) who actually like/call each other and also will grow up to be useful members of society. I'm the eldest, so I think I turned out rather well for first-time parent immigrants lost in a new country.
Both mom and dad have made equally large impact on me, but dad has quite the notorious sweet tooth (he used to hide Hershey kisses in his sock drawer because mom would scold him for eating too much candy) and this cookie recipe is in his honor. Aptly named "Dad's Favorite" this cookie features TONS of peanuts and peanut butter M&Ms! A few of dad's favorite things :)

These cookies, lovingly made by my amazing sister/Maid of honor, were also an option for the popular wedding favors (you can read about the baking of the 500 cookies and the DIY cookie bags). You can also see the jars we got from World Market that held all those 500 cookies. I made the labels with cardstock and vellum, calligraphied the font, and taped/tied the label around the jar with yarn.
Also, for those curious, I will NOT be officially changing my name, so I'll remain "Chef Uy". I knew very early on there was no way ever was I gonna give up my family name (even if people butchered the pronunciation all the time). I did consider hyphenation, but after much internal struggle, decided to just keep my name as it. There's a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason is simply my enormous pride and attachment to my family - and the fact that I'm going to be a doctor just like my dad. So Dad, these cookies are for you!

Dad, your skill and compassion drew me toward medicine, and I am so excited to be the next doctor in the family. In a few short weeks, I too shall become “Dr. Uy”, a title I have always dreamed of, so I could be just like daddy. I will always proudly be your daughter.
Love,
Natalie

Read more of our wedding series here!

Dad's Favorite (Peanut Butter M&M Candy Cookies)


Ingredients
2 sticks butter, cold & cubed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 &3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup peanuts**
1 & 1/2 cups (8 oz) of peanut butter M&Ms**

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream butter & sugars until well blended & fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla & beat until well incorporated.

in large bowl: whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, & baking soda. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients & mix until just combined. Add peanuts & M&Ms.

Scoop cookies & roll dough into balls before placing onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 min* or until lightly browned. Cool 5 mins before transferring.

*original recipe called for 14-18 mins baking time. the 10-12 min baking time was for future batches & worked well when doing the wedding cookies.

**Original recipe called for 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks & 1 8-oz bag Snickers bites. I didn't have enough Snickers the 1st time, so I ended up adding Milky Ways to the batch.
Read More »

Thursday, March 17, 2016

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

SO many people have been asking how our wedding went - our wedding was absolutely beautiful and wonderful, but let's say there were a few exciting hiccups (nothing ever goes quite as planned)! You can see pics on instagram!

We got married on a beautiful historic venue on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Since we had an outdoor gazebo garden for the ceremony, we held our breaths the week prior as the weather forecast for Monday through Friday predicted (accurately) nothing but constant thunderstorms!

Luckily Saturday's gorgeous sun couldn't have been more perfect for the ceremony. We held cocktail hour - featuring 312 beer from the local Chicago brewery (our wedding date is Chicago's area code) and amazing Texas Hill Country wines in the courtyard gardens. The reception was held inside a gorgeous European chapel with a giant wedding cake, a silly photobooth, and a DJ jamming great tunes.
The elegance was balanced plenty of goofiness such as our first dance to Pharell's Happy and a nod to Pixar's Up! In the end, our romantic getaway was a riverbarge that took us right to our wedding suite along the San Antonio Riverwalk!

Of course we had balloons, my famous doodles/cartoons, bright colors (coral and light blue!) and whimsy. The perks of being an artist is that you get to make your own decorations, invitations, and signs exactly how you want it - the hardest part is coming up with "the vision," but the originality is so worth it!
Sure there were mishaps - wrong flowers with last minute additions supplements from Trader Joe's and Costco, emergency wedding dress alterations (I lost an inch of weight!), waking up the morning of to an email saying the original makeup artist/hair stylist couldn't come, forgotten decorations, etc. BUT the wedding overall went smoothly, and most importantly we had a blast. There's nothing like being surrounded by loved ones who travel all over to celebrate the big day! Walking down the aisle to my handsome B was a dream. And everyone ate lots of delicious food and partied to the end of the night (yay!).
With all the dinner, drinks, and dancing, our guests said it was the most beautiful, funnest, and happiest wedding they've ever been to. Happy guests + marrying B = a pretty rad day!
These white chocolate cranberry cookies (from Allrecipes) are another flavor of cookies we used for our wedding favors (find out how my sister/maid of honor baked five hundred cookies!). This batch was very popular among the many cousins.

PS. Those are pink ombre tassles in the background which I made for our giant 36 inch balloons :)

Read more of our wedding series here!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies


Ingredients
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon brandy
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup craisins/dried cranberries

Directions
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.

In large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in egg & brandy. Combine flour and baking soda & stir into sugar mixture. Mix in chocolate chips & craisins. Drop by heaping spoonfuls.

Bake 8-10 min. For best results take them out while they're still doughy. Cool for 1 min before transferring.
Read More »

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Snickerdoodles

Because we're such a dessert centric family and B is a cookie monster - of course, we had to feature a dessert bar. As our thank you favors, cookies in a custom bag were perfect. As you can see, my famous doodles made it on the the little cookie favor bags.
For those wondering, I simply drew an image in Photoshop and sent it to be made into a custom stamp for $25 in this cute little shop in Seattle. Buy a bunch of brown bags, get your minions (I mean my lovely sister and brother) to help you stamp a couple hundred using regular black ink, and voila, custom favor bags.
When we decided we wanted cookies as our favors (because a wedding favor isn't fun unless it's edible and has sugar), we had a problem of figuring out how many. We settled on 6 different types. I had imagined everyone would get one or two cookies, but my dad scoffed at the idea.

Dad: Only one or two cookies? If you make six flavors, each guest will try each flavor.  I think we should make sure at least six cookies per guest!!
Me: Dad, normal people don't eat six cookies just because there are six flavors sitting on a table. Normal people (ie non Uy family) have self control.

So we aimed for about 360 ish cookies. However, it somehow grew into 500+ cookies. Yes, my wonderful sister/ maid of honor first triple batched each type of batter 2-3 weeks prior, froze it, and spent the final week before the wedding baking all these cookies with the help of my mom. Talk about being the star chef of the night!
I'll be featuring a few of the cookies recipes (the ones left that I could photograph before they were gobbled up by my family post wedding).

These gorgeous cookies in this post are my sister's always go to snickerdoodle cookie recipe (from Allrecipes) - they come out beautifully round, crispy on the edge and soft in the middle, with the perfect mix of cinnammon and sugar. These are perfect for making multiple batches since they keep so well. Enjoy!

Read more of our wedding series here!

Mrs. Siggs Snickerdoodles

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line with parchment paper.

Cream butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, soda, & salt. Roll the balls of dough.

Combine your remaining 2 Tbps sugar and cinnamon. Roll your cookie dough balls into mixture and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8-10 min or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

PS. you can freeze the dough beforehand and bake when you want - cookies taste perfect regardless!
Read More »

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Foodie Bridal Shower Brunch

Hello everyone! You might have noticed I've been busy - March will feature a wedding post series since I got married (whoohoo)! Enjoy!

For my bachelorette weekend, my bridesmaids organized a gorgeous Air BnB getaway (baking pizza, spa/makeovers, and movies), then we had a pastry class at Sur la Table! Can't think of a better way to bond - we all love cooking and eating!

We did 4 desserts every chef should know - Dark Chocolate Mousse, Lemon Tart, Ginger Creme Brulee, and Grand Marnier Souffle! Totally worth checking it out :)

For the bridal shower, my sister/maid of honor Stephanie and mom rocked all the food preparation and display. It was definitely the cutest bridal shower I'd ever been to. Of course, we'll be sharing the recipes here so you too can plan your own brunch party!


Decorations

- white plates (3 rectangle and 2 round) from World Market
- flowers from Costco (2 dozen for just $17!)
- giant paper clip (held mimosa sign) and paper baking cups from Michaels on sale
- labels - folder watercolor paper with gold sharpie and cut circles with yarn for the mimosa bottle labels
- thrifted water dispenser, cake stands, baskets for height variation (the key to a beautiful display)

Prep tips

- make the muffins, madeleines ahead of time
- whipped cream and fruit trifle - can buy the pound cake if you don't want to make from scratch
- feel free to home bake/prep or buy from the store depending on how involved you want the preparation

Sweets

- banana chocolate chip muffins - because no good breakfast starts without chocolate and bananas
- coconut madeleines - classic ones by Ina Garten
- mini strawberry parfait with granola - use 2 oz plastic shot glasses and buy mini spoons from the dollar store. Use regular plain yogurt, not Greek since it's easier to spoon into the cups when it's less thick
- Strawberry orange trifle with cream - one of my absolute favorite desserts ever, stay tuned for recipe!

Savory

- bacon, chives, and cheddar scones - stay tuned for recipe!
- turkey meatballs with Texas Bourbon Glaze - meatballs from Costco, glaze from HEB grocery
- smoked sausage with mango chutney - smoked sausage and chutney from HEB grocery
- veggie dip with ranch and hummus - 4 square pillars (2 tall and 2 short) from Ikea for cheap and elegant display of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and red bell peppers 
- mini croissants with deli meats (rosemary turkey, pastrami) and assorted cheeses 
- charcuterie boards - salami, Trader Joe's crackers, local cheeses and giant globe grapes (check out this adorable Texas shaped board and that boot shaped cheese knives)

Drinks

- Orange Infused Spa Water - water, ice, and orange slices (doesn't get any easier than this)
- Honey Mint Tea - my brother's special drink - green tea with fresh mint leaves
- Fruit mimosas - champagne mixed with orange, strawberry peach, and mango juice with fresh sliced fruit - pineapple, orange, peach, and strawberry. Can't have a girl's brunch without mimosas!
There you go! A beautiful (and more importantly) super tasty DIY bridal brunch that doesn't bust the wallet and still Pinterest worthy :D


Read More »