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Considering my last post was on April Fool’s Day last year (and rightly so!), I don’t make promises when it comes to blogging, but I will try my best, which is why I am posting on April Fool’s Day once again. Although I am terrible at updating my blog (proof: I actually typed the majority of this post back in January when the look back was more relevant…), I do update my Instagram quite often, especially with photos of trips to Disneyland and dishes I cook/bake. 😉

So much has happened since my last post. 2013 started out slow, but it ended up picking up enormous speed! Here are some highlights from the latter half of the year:

  • I had finished my MA degree in December 2012, but in May I walked in the commencement ceremony. It was hot, it was long, but it was worth it. I finally felt like I was finished with school!
MA Graduation Day

MA Graduation Day

  • May was also the month my parents started remodeling the kitchen, a process that took over the summer.
Kitchen - Before

Kitchen – Before

  • In June, I flew to WV with my dad for his father’s 93rd birthday. I was there for his 90th and I was so happy to be there once again with him on his special day.
  • In early July, most of my family from Chicago visited. Two of my cousins participated in the Irish Dancing Nationals Competition. It was great to see them and my aunt & uncle. I just really wished my other two cousins could have made the trip with them!
  • July also meant SDCC. This was definitely my busiest Comic Con yet—I barely slept! I even camped outside of Hall H the last night with friends. It was crazy, but it was fun. Will I do that again? Undecided, haha. Here are a couple pictures from the sometime-past-2am visit from Moffat and co., as well as a few pictures I took of my friends’ wonderful Sugar Rush cosplay!
Me, my brothers sweater, and Sue Vertue

Me, my brothers life-saving sweater, and Sue Vertue

A very good Ten with Steven Moffat

A very good Ten with Steven Moffat

 

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IMG_2200

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  • More family visited after Comic Con. This time TWO families, both from overseas and both from my dad’s side of the family (a reunion of cousins!). Only one of the families stayed with us though. Let me remind you: this was all happening during the kitchen remodel. Again, it was crazy, but fun.
  • At the end of August, I started working at a second job. So, during the day, I teach English at an ESL school, classroom style, and then most evenings I teach English or tutor with one-on-one lessons. This is what had been occupying most of my time for the last seven months.
  • August was also the month when we were finally able to move back into the kitchen, and I LOVE IT. I made good use of it over the holidays and then some! Seriously, my Instagram is flooded with pictures of food I’ve made. 😉
Kitchen - After

Kitchen – After

Kitchen - After, 2

Kitchen – After, #2

  • As for the rest of the year, I celebrated the holidays in the usual fashion with family and friends and enjoyed catching up on sleep and rest during the two week break I got from work from Christmas to New Years.
Thor and Loki - First Christmas

Thor and Loki – First Christmas

  • Now, 2014 has been filled with a lot of work and a lot of baking so far. Looking forward to seeing what else it holds!

And that, in short, is what I have been up to. I don’t have any plans for 2014. I hope to go on a cruise in June and I plan on going to Comic Con again in July. My brother quit is job and is traveling around the world for 6+ months, so I also hope to join him somewhere in the world at some point. Other than these hopes, I have no plans. I’ll just let what happens happen. I hope 2014 brings good things to us all! 🙂

Yours smiling, 

Miss Mo.

P.S. My brother started blog to record all his travel adventures. You should check it out!  —>  http://boust12.wordpress.com/

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The past couple of weeks have been really busy, filled with research for both school and my Masters thesis, hanging out with friends, going to the movies with my family, and trying to get to the root of my back pain.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but for a little over a year now I’ve had chronic pain in my lower back. Since months of physical therapy weren’t giving me the results my doctor wanted, he finally had me go in for an MRI. I had never had one before, but I was happy that they weren’t scanning my head because it was loud enough with my head sticking outside of the machine! All in all, it was an interesting experience. It really tested my ability to restrain myself from fidgeting or twitching. Every now and then I would feel a tingling in my toes or my fingers, which was followed with an inner chant of “Do not move. Do not move. Do not move!” One nice thing about the process was that the technician gave me a pair of headphones with what he called “top 40 songs” playing to listen to during the exam. It made me realize, however, how out of touch I am with the so-called top 40 songs. I’m just glad nothing super annoying played during the MRI..! ^_^

Having the MRI meant that I got to spend a majority of my spring break getting the results, having a procedure done, and recovering from the procedure. Woo.

The procedure was for diagnostic purposes, meaning it might not fix my pain, but my fingers are crossed! It basically involved getting six shots in my lower back. Everyone at the surgery center was really nice as well, so it was a good experience, which I really needed because I was screwed over once again earlier that morning when trying to buy a badge for Comic Con. The whole procedure took about an hour, but I can’t really be sure because I was under anesthesia.

Anesthesia is so disorienting. I was lying on my stomach, literally watching the anesthesiologist inject it, listening to him talk as he was doing it, when all of a sudden his voice was blurring or echoing–I can’t really describe it–and the next time I opened my eyes I was lying on my back in a different area with my pants half on and my shoes on my feet. After I woke up, I think I fell back asleep, but I’m not even be sure about it! There are so many other things I could say about the strange feelings that come from waking up from being under anesthesia, but instead I will just say this: it wasn’t as bad as when I had to be put under to get my wisdom teeth pulled out!

Although, the procedure was quick, it meant that I was basically on bed rest for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, that meant once I was fully awake it was dinner time and I wasn’t able fall asleep again until around 4am. This in turn meant that I slept most of the following day and stayed up late that night as well.

I hope to go to sleep a lot earlier tonight, aka right after I post this.

 

Before the procedure, the anesthesiologist told me a few things I wasn’t supposed to do for the rest of the day, half were serious and half were jokes: don’t drive, don’t cook, don’t shop online, and don’t do my taxes.

Since I wasn’t allowed to cook, I was glad that I had some French toast in the freezer!

Freezer French Toast is comfort food for me. My mom has been making it for my family for as long as I can remember. I asked her where she got the recipe once, and she thinks it was from a radio program.

Of course she’s adapted the recipe a bit over the years and I hope to play with it in the future myself. I feel like each time we make it together we discover new tricks to try or new ideas to make cooking it even easier than it already it. But as it stands, the recipe is a great, simple, comforting make-ahead dish.

First, you beat together the eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla, using either a mixer or a Kitchen Aid stand. I like using the Kitchen Aid because I can slice the French loaf while the ingredients are mixing.

Once the bread slices are laid out onto the baking sheets (which are lined with foil and sprayed with oil), you ladle half of the egg mixture over the bread, sprinkle them with nutmeg, flip them over, ladle the rest of the egg mixture, and sprinkle with nutmeg again.

Then, you stick them in the freezer uncovered for about three hours, or until hard.

When the bread is hard, put them into Ziplock bags. I highly recommend wrapping each slice in freezer paper to prevent the slices from sticking to each other. And be sure to write the date on the bag, so you can keep track on how long it has been in the freezer!

When you are ready to cook the French toast, just place the amount you want onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush the slices with melted butter, bake for 8 minutes at 450°F, flip the pieces of toast, brush with butter once again, and cook for another 8 minutes, or until they reach your desired color. Watch carefully so that you don’t burn the toast!

Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, and/or fruit—or all three! I had some strawberries on hand, so fanned a handful of them to make a simple but lovely presentation. The syrup I used was a souvenir from a family member’s wedding. Such a cute idea for a wedding guest gift!

So simple and so delicious. I really do love this recipe. Comfort food at its best in my opinion. And, since this week has turned into a week of rest and staying off my feet, I believe I will be making the rest of the batch of French toast my mom and I made together last month for breakfast this weekend.

 

Freezer French Toast

Ingredients:

8 eggs

2 cups of milk

1/4 cup of sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla

1 lb. loaf French bread

ground nutmeg

1/4 cup of butter, melted at time of cooking

powdered sugar (optional)

syrup (optional)

fruit (optional)

 

Make-ahead preparation:

Cut the bread into slices that are about 1 inch thick. Divide the slices onto two cookie sheets lined with foil or freezer paper and spray with oil, such as Pam. Beat together the eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Pour half of the egg mixture over the slices with a large ladle and let it soak into the bread. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Turn the slices over and repeat. Freeze on the sheets uncovered until firm, about 2 to 3 hours. Wrap the slices individually in freezer paper, or possibly wax paper, and places into Ziplock bags. Label the bags with the date and place it in the freezer.

To serve:

Preheat the over to 450°F. Place your desired number of frozen slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each slice with melted butter. Bake for about 8 minutes. Flip the slices, brush with butter, and bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Optional: serve with powdered sugar, syrup, and/or pieces of fruit.

 

 

Yours smiling,

Miss Mo.

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It was my mom’s birthday last month, and I had no time to shop and no idea what to get her. So instead of buying some random gift in a rush, I decided to surprise her with a birthday breakfast in bed and a birthday lunch. I was really excited with the idea, planning what I would make her and when I could secretly prepare it.

My final plan of action was: banana & honey filled pancakes for breakfast, and baked sweet potato chips with a quick garlic aioli and baked arancini for lunch. I didn’t have to worry about dinner because she was going out with friends.

Since her birthday was on a day where I had to go to campus in the morning, I prepared the pancakes the night before, planning on reheating them in the oven when I woke up. Although I had planned on bringing them to her in bed, a pain in my lower back decided otherwise. Extra trips up and down the stairs were out of the questions! I just told her as I was going downstairs to come join me because I had a surprise for her. And boy was she surprised and ecstatic; she hadn’t been expecting it at all!

What made the breakfast extra special was that the Æbleskiver pan and the pancake mix I used were gifts from my mom to me. So, my gift to her was using what she gave me to make something for her. 🙂

The pancake mix I used was William Sonoma’s Organic Cornmeal Pancake & Waffle Mix, but I’m not sure if they still make it. My mom gave it to me a while ago and I’ve been trying to make it last… ^ ^

Aside from cutting the ingredients in half to make a small batch of pancakes, I followed the batter ingredients as listed on the container for the most part. One thing I changed was the amount of milk in the batter. I thought it looked too dry and that the pancakes would be too dense, so I added more milk, which is why there is an unspecified amount listed below. Of course, the pancakes were still dense in the long run because that is to be expected with cornmeal pancakes, but without the extra milk it would have been too much.

I had planned on using regular honey, but realized that we didn’t have any at home. In the end I was glad we didn’t because the Mango Sage Honey we did have was delicious and added a more unique flavor to the pancakes.

 

The end result was delicious!

 

Banana & Honey Filled Cornmeal Pancakes

For the pancake filling you need:

1 banana, sliced and then quarter the slices (I only needed 3/4ths of the banana)

Honey (I used Mango Sage Honey)

 

For the pancake batter you need:

1 egg, beaten

1 cup of cornmeal of pancake mix**

Milk***

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil to coat the pan (or butter if you so prefer)

 

Toppings:

Honey

Powdered sugar

*This is half of the specified amounts listed on the container. It was only for my mom and I, so I only wanted a small number of pancakes. This made about 10.

**I am sure you can make your own batter from scratch instead of using a mix, but I had the mix in the pantry so I went ahead and used it!

***The instructions of the box called for approximately 3/8 cup when halved, but the batter seemed too dense and dry, so I poured in more as needed. It was most likely close to the original 3/4 cup that the full instructions called for.

 

In a larger bowl, mix together the batter ingredients.

Place your ebleskiver pan on the stove over medium heat and spray the wells of the pan with vegetable oil and wipe away the excess.

Cut the banana into slices and then quarter the slices. Mix the banana pieces with honey in a small bowl. There should be enough honey to coat the banana and pool around them.

Fill each of the wells with a about a tablespoon of the batter. Then, place the filling on top (about 3 pieces of banana with some of the extra honey surrounding them). Immediately after, put another tablespoon of batter on top. Be careful not to fill the wells all the way to the top, or else it might be too difficult to flip them. Once the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, flip the pancakes over using skewers or long toothpicks. (I find that by the time I’ve finished putting in the filling and second layer of batter the pancakes are ready to be flipped.) Cook the other side of the pancakes until golden and crispy, and then transfer them to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and then serve.

Since I made these the night before, I simply wrapped the pancakes in foil and reheated them in the oven at about 200°F convection bake the morning of my mom’s birthday. Since the pancakes were filled and therefore thick in the center, it took a while to reheat them. I’m sure they would taste better fresh, but reheated tasted was just fine to my mom and I.

 

This post is part one of three. Three recipes = three posts! I hope to have part two up sometime before Friday, but no promises! ^ ^

 

Yours smiling,

Miss Mo.

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“Jeepers!”

I didn’t mean to have such a long time pass between my posts, but my laptop broke and it has been in repair for the majority of the month. I finally got it back last week, so I can finally post what I had been planning to post ages ago! Therefore, this entry will revisit the end of January and my quick trip to Florida. I don’t have much to say about February aside from cooking adventures because it has been largely uneventful. I’ll post my kitchen experiments in later posts. 🙂

Also, I ‘apologize’ for the onslaught of pictures in this post–I had such a hard time narrowing them down. Hopefully so many will make up for the fact that I could not write sooner~ 😉

To begin, the flights from California to Florida were probably the worst flight experiences I have ever had, not because of the airline, people, or noise, but because of my ears. Since I was still recovering from my cold, my head was congested. This meant that my ears were still clogged, and it sounded strange when I popped them. I thought it would be okay at first because I felt fine during the take off, but it wasn’t okay.  When the first flight landed in Texas, I felt a terrible pain in my ears, and when the second flight landed in Florida, I could hardly hear anything at all. Everything, including my own voice, was muffled, and it felt as though I was going deaf. I wanted to burst out crying in fear and panic, but stayed as calm as I could. By the next morning, I was able to hear in one ear, but not the other, so when my mom and I headed to the beach with my grandparents sometime after breakfast and experimenting with ear drops in their apartment, we stopped by Walgreens to buy the medicine I needed to clear the congestion in my ears. I never want to fly after a head cold again! Thank you God for drugs and my ability to hear! ^ ^

Aside from my hearing drama, I had a fabulous time with my grandparents, but the trip was far too short! I was thinking about it while on the plane and realized that it had been almost three years since I had last seen my grandparents, far too long of a time. My mom and I only had two full days to spend with them, so we made the most of them!

On the first day, after picking up the medicine, we drove to Stuart Beach. My grandpa and I walked along the beach while my mom sat with my grandma, who can’t walk on sand anymore because of an ankle injury she got a while back. While we were walking, my grandpa collected shells to share with my grandma since she can’t see them for herself anymore. So sweet!

Stuart Beach on January 18, 2012. The yellow and purple flags were out, indicating "Caution" and "Sea Pests."

Afterwards, we went to Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. It’s a great facility. We fed string rays, which was fun and one of the strangest feelings! The center also had a Game Fish Lagoon exhibit, where was watched the afternoon feeding. Then, we were lucky to catch one of the employees working with the sea turtles. She chatted with us about two of them, Hank and Turt, while feeding them and training them. The place also has nature trails in the surrounding land, so we walking along one of them before leaving.

Feeding Sting Rays. Ignore the crazy look in my eyes: it's the result of telling my mom to hurry up and take the photo, trying to resist looking back in the water, and Duane syndrome. ^ ^

Hank and Turt and the Race for Food

We spent the second day mostly relaxing. I say “mostly” because there was a bit of time spent helping my grandpa figure out who to set up their new internet service (only to realize there was a part that needed to be mailed to my grandparents) and looking for one of my grandma’s hearing aides (which was never found). The rest of the time my grandma showed me the antiques she’s collected over the years, telling me where and why she got them (and which ones she is planning to give to me one day! :D), while my grandpa shared some stories about the time he spent in the navy. It was all wonderful to hear learn. At night, my mom took us all out to dinner and used sneaky methods to pay the bill before my grandpa could. 😉

My mom got an iPad for Christmas that she brought with us to Florida. I then showed my grandparents how you could take photos on it. I don't think they understood seeing as I'm the only one looking at the camera...and I was taking the photo! lol

A memory my grandma wrote down to have put in the Community's weekly newsletter.

One of the coins from my grandparents' coin collection, of which I am envious!

When my grandparents moved into the retirement community, they brought with them some statues and hid a few on the property. This is one of them.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I really wish I could have stayed longer. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I have the chance to visit them again!

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about and looking at pictures from my short trip to Florida. Be forewarned: my next few entries will most likely all be cooking oriented because that’s all I’ve really had time for in February outside of school.

 

Yours smiling,

Miss Mo.

 

P.S. The title comes from that fact that my grandma exclaimed “(Oh) Jeepers!” three to four times during my visit. I love her. 🙂

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First: Of Friends.

Recently, two very good friends of mine have celebrated their 25th, or quarter-of-a-century, birthdays.

Sometimes it feels like it wasn’t too long ago that I was passing the days in high school with them.  Now, we are working/in graduate school/still trying to figure things out.

When did the time pass by?

The most important thing, though, is that I am happy to have them in my life and glad to celebrate with them.

My friend Miss Elisa received some of the coolest presents at her party, such as this mug and pair of sunglasses:

Fancy Sunglasses & Mustache Mug

I really want a mustache mug now, but one for lefties. This one is a right-handed mug. How can I tell? If I tried to drink from it with my left hand, the mustache wouldn’t be facing outwards as it is supposed to. Where’s the fun in that?

For my friend Monika’s party, I arrived early in case she needed help setting up. This resulted in a determination to make a beautiful toothpick arrangement for the chocolate fountain. I was quite proud of the result, and told people so, which is probably why no one wanted to mess it up. Instead they just used their fingers. Oh well. ^ ^

Toothpick Arrangement

And then I moved onto organizing the cookies I brought…

Cookie Arrangement

It’s things like this that demonstrate my hostess prep skill as well as why I get so stressed before hosting an event of my own..! lol

OH!, and my friend Kristina made flaming cupcakes for the party. I’ll have to try that sometime—I’ll add it to my mental “Recipes to Test” file.

Flaming Cupcake!

I made her promise to make Panda Bread with me sometime in the near future. When that happen, I will definitely post photos of the result! 😉

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Second: Of Mothers.

Just sending out a “Happy Mother’s Day” message out there to all mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and mother figures.

I appreciate my mom for all that she has done for me and love her for it even more.

Thank you for everything. I love you. ♥

Me & My Mom, circa 2 years of age.

Yours smiling,

Miss Mo.

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