Thursday, April 18, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Here comes another four-day weekend, and Thursday is just the day I feel so domesticated. I thought of baking, then I changed my mind, then I changed my mind again. I saw oatmeal in the pantry, then lo and behold I feel like baking some oatmeal raisin cookies. This might be a revenge to the full semester I spent without baking abroad. I didn't have access to a real kitchen and grocery items were pretty steep. Anyhow, these cookies are so delicious I can finish all 2 dozens of them. Nom nom nom...

1/4 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c. regular sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 c. uncooked oats
a handful of raisins (there's never "too much" for these)

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Cream sugars and butter in a bowl.
2. Add egg and vanilla, beat well.
3. Add combined flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix well.
4. Stir in oats and raisins evenly.

5. Drop dough using rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
6. Bake 10 to 15 minutes.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rainy Day Baking: Pecan Biscotti

I have a feeling I'll be so domesticated on Thursdays and Fridays of this term. Yesterday was all about spring cleaning, and today it's baking time! Since I wasn't in the States for last Christmas(first time in seven years, for the record), I kinda missed the biscotti fever. I don't know why but the Italians in this side of town bake them in ridiculous amount during Christmas season. Anyhow, here's to my longing for Italian festive feeling. 

The weather in Philly has been so bipolar. It's been raining all day last night and today, and sadly, I only had one egg in my fridge and pecan as top-in. So it yielded about 2-3 dozens of mini biscotti instead. Oh well, anything will do.

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. anise extract
1 tsp. vanila extract
a heaping handful of crushed pecans

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Grease a cookie sheet.
2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, anise extract, vanila extract.
3. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg. Stir this into the rest of the ingredients, mix well. Blend pecans in. Dough should be slightly lumpy

4. Form mini logs on the cookie sheet like below, and bake it for 25 minutes

5. Take the logs out of the oven. Slice the logs diagonally about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Lay the pieces separately on the cooking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn for the other side. Bake for another 10 minutes

 6. Turn the oven off and let the biscotti sit for a while to let it get brown and toasty. Store biscotti in air-tight container

Friday, April 5, 2013

Buffet Maniac's Dream: Shady Maple

Spring break is over and I'm back in classes for my last term as an undergraduate at Drexel! Fortunately I have no classes on Thursdays and Fridays. Anyhow, I'm not sure if four-day weekends is a good way to prepare for the real world.

Speaking of my first week of classes, my cousin Jordan was visiting Philadelphia for the week. So on Thursday, we drove up to Hershey's Chocolate World and stopped for a lunch at the legendary Shady Maple for lunch on the way back.

I sure have heard a lot of good things about Shady Maple, be it about their scrumptious traditional European buffet-style restaurant (smorgasbord) or the really delicious baked goods at its farmer's market. Every time I heard about this place, I always fantasized myself at a small and humble local joint with mountain view. Anyhow, it's so much better than that! I thought I mistook their banquet hall for the smorgasbord, but I guess not! The atmosphere is just so nice and cozy. Forget about the small local joint I imagined, this smorgasbord can serve up to 200 people at any given time. Their service is wonderful as well. Unlike Asian buffet experience that I've had where the waitress always rushed me to get out, Shady Maple's experience is about enjoying food with friends and family. They don't mind if you just sit there and talk even though you're done (or taking a break from) eating.

I also love the fact that they have three grill stations where food are prepared fresh as you order. The first grill serves meat, the second one serves corn and potato patties, and the third one is Asian grill! Oh my gosh. I would never thought they would serve fried rice, lo mein, and teriyaki made on the spot.

And the buffet line is 200 feet of delicious mouthwatering goodness. LOTS of variety of soup, salad, meat, finger food. They also buffet beverages of milk, fresh juice, coffee, soda, and birch beer. Everything they served was delicious and my most favorite is their caramelized baked sweet potato and traditional stuffing.

And please do save yourself some room for dessert because four flavor of ice cream, dozen kinds of cakes, another dozen of pies, cookies, puddings and warm dessert are waiting. If you have limited space for dessert, definitely go for one of the homemade pie or warm desserts (like apple crisp and cherry crumble). Oh wait, their puddings are out of this world too!!

Conclusion: As a buffet maniac who had a myriad buffet experiences in places including America, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand, I should declare that this is the BEST buffet I've been to. A visit to Lancaster County will never be complete without a meal at Shady Maple. Take your time to savor and enjoy, don't fill up yourself to quickly. Plan accordingly on what to eat by surveying everything on their buffet line for the day before eating