Archive | April, 2009

Magnolia Cupcakes made!

29 Apr

The Magnolia cupcakes were a moderate success – for attempting a new recipe and the fact that I’ve never made cupcakes before. It yielded 48 mini cupcakes but there was a bit too much icing. Overall the batter was sweet and topped with icing this was definitely cavity inducing. I won’t even mention the amount of butter and icing sugar that went into this, and that’s probably why I haven’t even tried one yet!

Note about the icing: max 2 drops of food colouring only! Or else the colour becomes too rich (the pink was a bit garish), and the icing will dilute and become runny. Trick with the icing – because this is butter creme, the butter after mixing and handling will become too soft and runny. Especially if you’re going to pipe it, it will run because of the temperature of your hands. After making the icing, put it in the fridge for 5 minutes. Then you can stir it to make it smooth and then it’ll be easier to work with and there will be more texture to the icing! Return to the fridge for a few minutes whenever you feel like it’s starting to ‘melt’.

Pic above is post fridge of icing using a spatula and to the right is piped post mixing without refrigerating. To note, the colour above looks yellow, but it’s actually avocado (a light minty green). The food colouring I got at the Ming Wo on West Broadway (at Bayswater). Did you know that’s a Ming Wo warehouse?? They have tons of food colouring other than the regular red/yellow/blue. They have mauve to electric pink, light blue to electric blue, avocado to bright green, brown (for chocolate), white and black. $2.50 each and a little bottle goes a long way since you’re only using a few drops!

UPDATE: So I let the guinea pigs at work try the cupcakes for breakfast. Pink was by far the most popular colour – for girls AND guys! The cake itself is deelish (of course!) but the icing was too sweet. Perhaps I’ll try a cream cheese icing next time.

So my years of suffering have been justified!

27 Apr

Seasonal Allergies, Foods, and Itchy Mouths

About 20 percent of the population suffers from the itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and sinus congestion that accompany seasonal allergies. Of those people, 25 percent also suffer from oral allergy syndrome (OAS). Symptoms include uncomfortable itchiness, tingling, or swelling in the mouth, lips, or throat when consuming certain fruits, vegetables, or nuts. The proteins in the pollens the person is allergic to are so similar to the proteins in certain types of foods, and this similarity creates the OAS reaction. Kind of creates a different meaning to “cross pollination.” The body recognizes those food proteins as an allergen, and as soon as the person eats the offending food, it triggers their sensitive immune system to release chemicals that cause cells in the mouth and throat to swell. These reactions, called cross reactions, are usually mild and last for 10 to 30 minutes. Only fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts can cause OAS reactions. Eating canned, cooked, dried, or frozen versions of those same foods usually cause no reaction. Also, just so you know, OAS is different than a nut allergy. In order for a person to have OAS, they must have an allergy to pollen.

Are you curious to know which foods are connected to which allergens? Then read more.

Note: Cross reactions may occur with some or all of the foods listed in the right-hand column.

Type of Allergy Foods That May Cause Cross Reactions
Birch Tree pollen Almonds, apples, apricots, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, hazelnuts, kiwi, lychee fruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, persimmon, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, wheat, zucchini, walnuts
Grass pollen Celery, watermelon, oranges, peaches, tomatoes
Ragweed pollen Bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew), gourd family (cucumber, zucchini and squash), chamomile, echinacea, sunflower seeds, zucchini
Alder pollen Celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley
Mugwort pollen Celery, fennel, carrots, parsley, coriander, sunflower, peppers

Just because you have an allergy to one of the pollens listed above, does not mean you’ll automatically have a reaction to the foods listed to the right. If you’ve been noticing swelling, itching, or tingling in your mouth or throat, it’s best to get tested by an allergist.


Revolution Health

oral-allergy-chart in pdf

Cupcake recipes

22 Apr

Coconut Cupcakes

This super recipe comes from Ina Garten’s “The Barefoot Contessa” cookbook, which features recipes from her hugely successful New York take-out store, also named The Barefoot Contessa. Garten notes that these cupcakes have been customer favorites for more than 20 years. Parents will like the fact that the coconut topping keeps the icing from sticking to the plastic wrap in lunchboxes.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 7-ounce package flaked sweetened coconut, divided
Cream cheese icing

Line 16 muffin cups with paper baking cups, and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and set oven racks at top and lower middle levels.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer speed to low, and add the eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute after each. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat again briefly.

Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in only 1 1/3 cups of the coconut.

Fill each muffin cup almost full with batter. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 11 to 14 minutes on the top and lower-middle racks of oven, then reverse the positions of the two cupcake pans (putting the one from the top on the lower middle rack and vice versa), and bake another 11 to 14 minutes or until the cupcake tops are golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely, and then top them with cream cheese icing. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If you want to freeze these, store them unfrosted in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.

To serve unfrosted cupcakes that have been frozen, allow to thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving, then ice and serve them. Makes about 16 cupcakes.

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Magnolia Bakery NYC

22 Apr

Magnolia Bakery in New York was made famous on an episode of Sex and the City in 2000, but it’s fame goes as far back when Jennifer Appel (ex-owner of Magnolia, current owner of Buttercup) started the cupcake craze/trend back in 1996. “If you did a family tree of cupcakes in New York, she spawned out the seven families. She’s the Don Corleone of cupcakes.” (Sweet and Vicious, NY Mag article)

Thankfully, Magnolia came out with a recipe book of it’s treasured pastries. Enjoy.

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Dona Lucia Esthetics

22 Apr

Walked past the Dona Lucia Esthetics Salon on West Broadway on my way to Cupcakes today.

Saw that there’s a $5 eyebrow threading special – think I might make an appointment after work. Turns out she’s also the “Brazillian” Queen as well!! It’s another open space salon concept (a la Pure Nail Bar and Noir Lash Lounge) with long winding red leather seating.

Address: 2813 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC.

Phone: 604-736-5460 | Email:

Hours: Mon to Fri 9 AM – 7 PM | Sat & Sun 10 AM – 6 PM

UPDATE: Think the $5 eyebrow threading is everyday after 3pm? Ladies, if you live on the Westside, it sure beats going all the way to Main or Fraser and 49th!

Sauteed Cherry/Grape Tomatoes

18 Apr

This was a big hit at my birthday bash. Eat them as they are, as a snack or toss with pasta. I like to use the smaller grape tomatoes as they’re sweeter and not as juicy so you don’t squirt your friends, family or date. Key is to use lots of garlic! Use fresh basil and be generous with the seasonings!

Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

SUBMITTED BY: USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson

“Cherry tomatoes take less than 10 minutes to prepare.”


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil


  1. Heat 1 Tb. olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high flame until it just starts to smoke.
  2. Add tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Saute, shaking pan frequently, until tomatoes soften and skins just begin to wrinkle, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and continue to shake the pan until garlic is fragrant. Off heat, stir in the basil and remaining 1 Tb. olive oil, then serve.


This recipe was originally featured in the USA WEEKEND article Holiday Entertaining on December 11, 2005.

Find the Perfect Recipe from Pam Anderson.

Pam Anderson is the author of four cookbooks, including her latest, Perfect Recipes for Having People Over.

Copyright 2004 USA WEEKEND and columnist Pam Anderson. All rights reserved.

Buttermilk Doughnuts Recipe

17 Apr

Well technically it’s Allen’s Momma’s Buttermilk Doughnuts Recipe.

I woke up this morning feeling inspired. I have these baking spells and all I do days, nights and weekends is bake. At all crazy hours – mostly 2am, or early morning like today – 6am Blueberry Crumble Muffins (William Sonomas recipe). Why? For no particular reason – we’ve all had a stressful workweek, so might as well start Friday treating the work peeps to fresh warm muffins, right? Which, luckily, were very well received.

Came across Eating Out Loud on Twitter and this recipe for Momma’s Buttermilk Doughnuts recipe caught my eye and I will try to make it this weekend (and update, if I remember to). First, because I have leftover buttermilk from the muffins, and second, anything from anyone’s Momma is always good.

**Dear Allen, Hope you don’t mind me reposting. I post as a collection of recipes for myself, but if you doth protest, please let me know. Thanks. And thanks to your momma too.**

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Chinese horoscope for April 7, 2009

6 Apr

You’ll demonstrate skill and diplomacy, and you’ll manage to get important business without any problems. If you need cash, don’t borrow but try to recover the sums that are owed to you; your efforts will be positive. You could profitably decide to take a new professional or sentimental direction. You’ll feel out of sorts, subject to malaises that are difficult to diagnose and even more so to treat; it’s highly probable that these malaises are of psychosomatic origin.

Is it still safe for me to eat this?

6 Apr

Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide to food, beverages etc.  @ Still Tasty

Nars Makeover

5 Apr

So I had a makeover with Wendy at the Nars counter at the Bay Oakridge. She’s a fantastic, warm, bubbly person and very experimental with her makeup. She gave me a fresh spring look that I was at first cautious about, but surprisingly liked a lot! Hey, it’s just makeup, right? If you don’t like it, wipe it off and start again.

She started with basic skincare, and then proceed to eyes and makeup. Some highlights, standout products, and tips and tricks below:

  • Hydrating Freshening Lotion – gel to water formula toner. Saturate cotton pad and apply in gentle circular motions, concentrating on enlarged pore areas (cheeks for me)
  • Nourishing Eye Cream -Gel to cream formula. Apply in gentle circular motions around eye area, patting in inner corners. At night, can also be applied around sides of nose, laugh lines and lips.
  • She then applied the Hydrating Moisture Cream, but I think it was too heavy as my face felt like a heavy oil slick a few hours later. I’ve had success with the Balancing Moisture Lotion. That one I will probably buy.
  • As a side note, the Nars Mud Mask is the BEST I’ve ever tried. Though it’s mud, it does not dry hard and for red and irritated blemishes, spot treat and 10 minutes later it’s smaller and the redness is gone. Definitely a lifesaver.
  • Brightening Serum – this one is quite pricey, but it’s a serum that improves skin’s texture and can also me used to brighten and highlight. I usually use this mixed with foundation to create a dewy look, but it should be applied to face by itself premakeup as a base, or if you’re looking dull at the end of the day, apply all over. This one is a must have.
  • I can’t say that I like any of their current foundations, but I’m looking forward to the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation coming out later this year. It was used for a few of the Autumn/Winter 2009 Collections.
  • Finish off with Beach loose powder, a light dusting of Laguna Bronzer, contour cheekbone underside with Madly Blush (take a flat brush, sweep inward towards nose, lift up like a checkmark at the apple), tap Desire Blush from outer cheekbones in, gradually lighter towards centre. Highlight cheekbones, browbone and centre of nose with Highlighting Blush Duo in Hungry Heart. This creates the inverted triangle effect that makes your face glow.

Now onto the eyes.

  • Pat Bali Single Eyeshadow (or any grey shadow) in the outer corners to create depth. Do not extend beyond corner of eye and do not extend up into contour of eye.
  • Apply the yellow green shimmer of the Dream Lover Duo all over eye. Pat Iceland duo’s very light iridescent green shimmer in the centre of eye to create a sparkling effect. The shadow adapts and changes colour depending on the other colours used. I received lots of compliments on the “magical” effect. Sweep either Goldfinger or Night Sun single eyeshadow (yellow/gold shadow) from the inner corner up to browbone.
  • Use Lola Lola eyeshadow as liner. To create a gradual effect, line upper lashline from inner corner to outer, thickening the line at the end. At the end, don’t follow the lashline (almost a straight line) and flip ends up, but not extending past eye. Use Black Moon eyeliner to fill in lashline gaps. Use Lola Lola and Black Moon on lower lashes. Use Dream Lover’s yellow/green on inner lower corners.
  • Finish off lips with by using Jilted Love lip pencil all over lips (this can also be worn with just a gloss on top), dabbing Niagara lipstick (pink/peachy/coral) in middle of lower lip, and finally a layer of Baby Doll lip laquer. This lip look garnered lots of compliments.  Fresh is the only way to describe it.