icejohn2: (fun)
It is Chinese new year today! This is the year of rabbit. After the blizzard dumping 5 feet (150 cm) of the snow on the ground here yesterday, it is bitterly cold today. The temperature drops to 0'F (-18'C) and windchill gets down to -15'F (-26'C). Like one of my on-line buddies told me, we would need lots of bunnies to stay warm!

It says people born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. So hope that 2011 will be a year with taste and no more bad economy!
icejohn2: (cake)
Nian GaoContinued the Bunny year Chinese new year goodies baking marathon, here comes the red bean year cake (Nian Gao) 年糕. This is another traditional popular Chinese New Year dessert.

It is mainly made of glutinous rice so it is actually gluten free. There are many different kinds of flavors of year cake. It can be sweet or savory. I always use my family's recipe to make this sweet brown sugar red bean flavor year cake.

Nian GaoIt is considered good luck to eat year cake during Chinese new year. The word 糕 (Gao) means "cake" is identical in sound to the word, 高 which means "high". Therefore, it is going to raise oneself higher in each coming year by eating year cake. The cake batter is mixed and put it in a big steamer to steam until it is done. Then, the cake will stay in the refrigerator for several days until it is a little bit dry and hard for cutting. We usually either eat it just the way it is (my Mom would definitely disgree about this way!) or dip it in flour/egg batter and deep fry it. It is good either way.
icejohn2: (cake)
Merry Christmas! All my Christmas cookies are gluten free. Here is a bonus cookie: Orange pecan cookie. This is actually my second favorite this year. This one has grange juice, orange zest and chopped pecans on the sugar cookie based dough. Very intense flavor.

There is actually another pecan sugar cookie made this year but it was all gone before I could take pictures! That's everything of the cookies this year. Wish you have a merry Christmas and happy new year!
icejohn2: (cake)
Happy Christmas Eve! Here is the champion cookie this year, "White Chocolate Cherry Cookies"! Shortbread kind of cookie. The perfect combination of cherry flavor and not too sweet white chocolate. I did not expect that the maraschino cherries would make such a nice tasty cookie but they did! Beautiful and great taste! One of the best cookies I have ever made!

Next one is the "Double Chocolate Mint Cookies". If you like girl scout mint cookie, this one is your heavenly gift since it is much better than girl scout one! 3rd place in this year's Christmas cookies. The wonderful chocolate based dough plus the semi-sweet chocolate bits in the cookie and super minty flavor make this one instantly crowd favor!
icejohn2: (cake)
Happy Christmas Eve's Eve! We are almost done with all holiday gluten free cookies showdown here! :) Number 9 is the "Cardamom Snaps". It is not only a new recipe but also a new spice that I would like to try. Cardamom usually is used in the Indian cooking. It has a fragrance between ginger and cinnamon. This cookie is a combination of ginger snaps and molasses cookies. It tastes very much like ginger snaps but with something different that you just cannot catch what it is. :)

Number 10 is " Lemon Ricotta Cookies". This one is adapted from the Foodnetwork Giada's recipe. It has such a strong lemon taste in cookie itself that I don't think the lemon glaze from the original recipe is necessary so I eliminate that. The ricotta cheese and the gluten free version of my rice flour mixture makes this cookie has the texture like pan cake actually. :) Very tasty but it seems to expand too much during the baking. Another one might need more work to make it perfect for the gluten free version.

icejohn2: (cake)
Good morning again! Snow finally stops and I am running out of butter, eggs and condensed milk to complete the rest of the cookies. Got to go shopping! It is never easy to adapt the usual recipes to gluten free but it is worth the efforts when the final cookies come out just right and nobody can tell the difference. Sometimes, the gluten free version is even better! Here are the next two Christmas cookies! Both are gluten free as well. The first one is the "Chocolate Scotcheroos". A new recipe I adapt from this year's local gas/energy company annual cookie book. It is basically an alternated version of rice crisp treats. Cook the sugar with corn syrup first to make the base syrup then add the peanut butter and rice crisp cereal. Pour, or rather say push since it is a super sticky mixture, into a 9x13 baking pan to let cool. Then, spread a layer of melted semi-sweet chocolate and butterscotch on the top and the "Scotcheroos" is born!

The next one is "Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies". From the name, you can guess the original recipe is basically to throw all leftover ingredients from other baking/cooking tasks together to make this one. It has sugar, brown sugar, eggs, crisp rice cereal, flaked coconut, rolled oats, and toffee bits. It has lots of tasty ingredients but the result is really not what I want. Very bland to my taste. This is my least favorite within all 12 cookies I make this year. But to be fair, I never really like oatmeal cookies since I think they are very bland. It actually taste much better once the cookies chilled in refrigerator for a day. Again, some of my local Wisconsin friends love it very much and tell me that it is what the oatmeal cookie supposed to be. Aw, well, at least, somebody would eat them!
icejohn2: (cake)
It snows again! It is white outside everywhere. Definitely will be a white Christmas but it also means nasty road and air conditions for those have to travel. Fortunately, I have started my holiday vacation so I can bake more cookies indoor instead. :) OK, let's come back to my 12 days of Christmas cookies. The time is running out now so I have to do a double-cookie post everyday. Here are the next two Christmas cookies! Both are gluten free as well. The first one is the "Chocolate Marbled Banana Bars". Another new recipe I discover this year and it is one of the all time best I would say! If you love any kind of banana and chocolate combination such as "monkey chunky ice cream", this bar cookie will make you feel like that you are in heaven! The wonderful sugar cookie dough base is divided into 2 parts: one is mixed with smashed ripe banana and chopped pecans, the other is mixed with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Then, both doughs are placed in the baking pan in layers to create the marbled effect. The texture is more like cake and the taste is wonderful. Heavenly banana chocolate cookie!

The next one is another new recipe (surprise, surprise), "PB & J Thumbprints". This one actually does not turn out to be as good as I hope. However, it is still a great taste peanut butter cookie. It just needs more tweak to make the texture right for the gluten free version. The peanut butter sugar cookie base is just a little bit too crisp for my taste. However, some of my friends love it! So I guess everybody has different taste. I decide to use the raspberry jam to fill the thumbprint part to make it stand out more compared to the strong peanut butter cookie base. It is a much better combination with peanut butter than other flavor of the jam. Nevertheless, it is a good looking holiday peanut butter cookie.


icejohn2: (cake)
Happy holidays again! Another cold and sunny day! Today is the last Sunday before Christmas so all the crazy shopping crowds have been out on the road to pack all the stores in order to get the holiday shopping done. Of course, Packers game today too! Here are the third and fourth cookies for the 12 Days of Christmas cookies! All gluten free too! The third one is the "Coconut Candy Bars". This one is a new recipe I try this year and it instantly becomes the crowd favorite! Original recipe has the graham crackers and almond base crust but I have to adapt it with special gluten-free flour mixture with toasted pecans. It then covers with a layer of coconut and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Then, another layer of chopped toasted pecans. Then, a whole layer of melted dark chocolate. Wish you could witness how fast people gulp those bars down!

The next one is another new recipe, "Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars". This is another super delicious one if you like cheese cake and butterscotch flavors. The crust tastes like the nice shortbread. The cream cheese layer is flavored with lemon juice/zest and sweetened condensed milk flavored cream cheese. The interesting thing is that you cannot taste the sour lemon at all. It work perfectly with the cream cheese and not too sweet. Then, the topping is delicious oatmeal and butterscotch crumble mixture. Another party crowd favorite!
icejohn2: (cake)
Happy holidays! It has been cold and snow here in Wisconsin recently. The temperature has dipped down to 5'F (-15'C) and windchill -5'F (-26'C). Snow and ice everywhere so it definitely will be a white Christmas. Work has been very busy so I barely can find time to make the cookies and post here. Anyway, here are the first and second cookies for the 12 Days of Christmas cookies! Especially, all these cookies are gluten free! The first one is the "Double Vanilla Delights". It has the wonderful texture like Mexican wedding cookies with chopped pecans. The frosting is made with fresh cooked vanilla bean mixture. It is a vanilla heaven!

The second one is a new recipe that I want to try this year, "Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars". I always like pecan pie but it usually is too sweet to have more than one piece. This cookie bar version of the pecan pie keeps the same sweetness and texture of the pecan pie with the good sugar cookie base crust. In addition, it adds semi-sweet chocolate chips on the top. Yummy!
icejohn2: (cake)
It was a nice July 4th long weekend in USA. The weather was wonderful, sunny, hot but with breeze. Did lots of yard works, watched fireworks and parade. In addition, we had some friends and family coming to visit for several good meals. I made 2 desserts to celebrate the Independence Day weekend. The first one was a strawberry cranberry pie since it is the season for fresh strawberry. In order to make it gluten free, I had to make the pie crust from scratch. It is actually a shortbread kind of crust, which holds all the liquid from cooked strawberry and cranberry very well. I used the frozen cranberry to add some tangy to the sweetness of the strawberry. The topping was made of oatmeal, rice flour, butter and sugar. It turned out to be a great pie!

The 2nd dessert was a gluten free version of pineapple upside down cake. The base was the stored bought yellow cake mix. The topping was the caramelized pineapple with cherry. It was just OK since the cake was a little bit dry. I used to add instant pudding mix or sour cream to improve the taste and texture but decided not to this time. And what a mistake I made! Will not repeat that mistake again! Overall, it was a great weekend! And there were so many fireflies outside in the garden at night time to make it look like small fireworks in the yard! Hope that all my US friends had a great 4th of July weekend too!