Blueberry Custard Pie Bars

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I helped out with a retreat this past weekend with some AACF brothers and sisters. I took care of the infants group (6 months-2 years), and I must say…THEY ARE SO CUTE. We only had three infants, but one of them got sick after the first session. I honestly don’t think I did much; I think I spent more time hanging out with AACFers than I did with the kids, haha! But I really did enjoy getting to know them more since I’ve been kinda MIA this past year. I’ll be back, I promise! It was also fun to be able to hang out with the other helper, who’s married with two kids. It’s nice to be able to talk to older women and to listen to the wise things they have to say. All in all, it was fun!

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There is one moment that I must share, though. Since the infants were on a different rotating schedule (basically nonexistent rotations) than the other groups, we dropped by the red group, which were the 3-5 year olds. D’s (the one that got sick) brother J was in that group, so we dropped by to say hi. J was at the crafts table with another kid, L. This was the conversation:

L: J, is that your brother? (pointing at D)
J: Yeah, it is!
L: HE LOOKS LIKE AN ALIEN!!!!!
Me: That’s not nice! Don’t say that!
L: BUT HE LOOKS LIKE AN ALIEN!

Heh, kids just say that darndest things. It was encouraging to see the kids become attached to us so quickly and so excited to learn and play. =) Thanks for the opportunity!

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Anyways, it’s berry season! I love berries, but I think the only berries that I enjoy baked in desserts are blueberries. I’ve made a few recipes with strawberries baked inside the cake, but they’ve never really appealed to me. But blueberries…they are another story. I love how they just ooze out.

IMG_3656I remember last summer I went through a phase with blueberries because Sam bought this 5 pound box from Costco. As a result, I made Blueberry Crumb Muffins and Blueberry Pull Apart Bread. It’s one year later, the blueberries are back, so today I present to you all…

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BLUEBERRY CRUMB BARS. I’ve already made these four times in the past week. My friend T shared this recipe with me, and I love it! It’s a sweet custard with blueberries and a thick graham cracker crust. It’s a really light, refreshing, and easy dessert. I do like how this is LOADED with blueberries–this recipe uses 1.5 pounds of blueberries! Take advantage of berry season y’all, and make this!

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Blueberry Custard Pie Bars 
Makes one 9×13″ pan
Adapted From Butter Baking

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (28 squares)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Custard Filling:
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups sour cream
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g blueberries (18 oz); I used fresh, you can use frozen

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a 9×13 inch baking tray with parchment paper.

2. For the Crust: In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 7 minutes; leave the oven on when done.

3. For the Filling: Beat the eggs until combined. Add the sugar; beat until foamy. Add the sour cream, flour, cornstarch, and salt, and beat until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla.

4. Fold in the blueberries. Pour the custard mixture over the crust and smooth out. The batter will be thin.

5. Bake until the center is set, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate and cut into bars/squares. Enjoy!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

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Oreo Rice Krispies Treats

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When I was little, I always poked my nose into the kitchen to see what mama was cooking. From sticky rice to steamed buns, I was there to help cut, roll, stir, and learn. She taught me almost everything I know about cooking, and every meal I make in the kitchen today is because of her (and some tips from my pops). People always ask me why I enjoy baking so much, and I always reply by saying I’ve always liked to cook/bake because I’ve always helped my mom in the kitchen while growing up. Now, there are plenty of other reasons, but I can assure you that one of the main reasons is because the kitchen was something that my mom and I bonded over. I’m thankful for those days–so thanks mom, for influencing me to love and know the kitchen =).

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One of the things my mom and I made a lot was Rice Krispies Treats. We didn’t do much baking in the kitchen aside from fish and chicken, so that usually meant no desserts. We did have our share of sweets though, with green/red bean soup, red bean steamed buns, or the easy go-to I-Mei Mango popsicles, orrrrrr….Rice Krispies Treats. This was something we did together. I measured the ingredients, melted the marshmallows and butter, and she did the stirring and pouring into the pan. I could never handle the stickiness of the cereal and marshmallows, and the pot was usually too heavy and hot for me anyway.

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I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while, and I jumped at the chance since I had extra marshmallows and Oreos. I saw one where there was an extra white chocolate and Oreo layer on top, but that was just too much for me–wayyyy too sweet! I liked this variation; the treats were chewy, and there were Oreo chunks in each bite. Not too sweet or heavy, but be careful to not eat the whole batch =). A few tips that I learned from my mom: 1) When you’re stirring your cereal and marshmallows together, take the pot off the heat, or else the treats won’t be chewy and will become crunchy. 2) A wet plastic rice paddle works really well for getting the cereal/marshmallow mixture into the pan. Just run it under the water when it starts getting sticky. 3) Soak your pots/pans for a little bit before washing. It’s not worth your time to scrub them right away. Tips aside, these are sooooo good. It was gone within a day when I made them. Do it. It’s good for you (just kidding. It’s not really good for you, but it really is delicious!!!)

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Oreo Rice Krispie Treats
Makes one 9×13 Pan
Adapted From Glorious Treats

Ingredients:

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
20 regular Oreos, crushed/chopped
5 cups mini marshmallows
3 tablespoons butter

1. Spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large ziplock bag, crush the Oreos; you’ll want some to be chunks. I used the bottom of my measuring cup to crush them. Add the Rice Krispies and Oreos into a large bowl and stir to combine.

3. In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter, stirring constantly, making sure it does not burn. Add the marshmallows, stirring until the marshmallows are fully melted. (Alternatively, you can melt the butter and marshmallows in a microwave.)

4. Remove the pot from the heat, and add the Rice Krispies/Oreo mixture. Stir until well coated. Spread the mixture into the prepared 9×13 dish. Use a spatula sprayed with cooking spray (or my favorite, a wet plastic rice paddle) to press the mixture into the dish. Flatten as needed. Let cool (about 20 minutes), then cut into squares. Enjoy!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

M&M Cookie Bars (and a P2 Missions update!)

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Three weeks ago, I was in Arizona for P2 Missions. Aaaanddd…I miss it already– the kids, the program, the company, the serving, and the list goes on and on. And it’s only been three weeks! It’s always hard for me to leave Arizona. This was my third trip, but each trip is significant in its own way. I always learn something new, and I always get to serve with new people and work in a different capacity. But one thing remains the same: I serve a great and gracious God! That is something to be thankful for.

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I made these cookie bars as thank you goodies to our Youth pastors, Mat and Eugene. It wasn’t much, but it was just my way of saying THANKS!–Thanks for shepherding the flock, for planning every aspect of the missions trip, for being patient with us, and for being our pastor. Anyways, I stumbled across the mini M&Ms while at Winco, and I think I may have put too much in the batter, but whatever. My cookie bars turned out to be 70% M&Ms, but who’s complaining? They were super chewy; I love cookies that use an extra egg yolk! They weren’t too sweet or greasy, and I’d definitely make them again. They’re perfect for your summer roadtrips because the M&Ms won’t melt all over the place because of the candy coating. I love the mini M&Ms! They just make everything 10x more fun =). Sigh, I’m such a kid. Oh well ; )

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M&M Cookie Bars
Makes one 9×13 pan
From Lovin’ From the Oven

Ingredients:

2 1/8 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 12 oz bag mini M&Ms, divided

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil, with the foil hanging over the sides.

2. Mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until combined. Stir in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, salt, and baking soda into the wet mixture until combined.

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3. Stir in 1 cup of mini M&Ms. Spread the batter into the lined pan, and smooth out the top either with the spatula or clean damp hands. Sprinkle the rest of the M&Ms on top and press in slightly.

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4. Bake until the bars are light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 25-30 minutes. Let them cool before cutting into bars.

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When people ask me how my trip was, it’s easy for me to just say “good.” But it was definitely more than that, because everything in my life is always good because God is good. I made a video just for my own personal memory box (and also because I was babysitting and had no wi-fi and nothing to do while the baby was napping), and I’m going to share it here with you all too. It’s not much, but I think it captures a good chunk of the things we did while on our missions trip. Enjoy!

P2 Missions 2013 from graceko on Vimeo.

Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy Reading, eating, and baking!!

Roasted Broccoli (and a belated Father’s Day!)

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I know I’m almost a month late, but happy belated Father’s Day!

For Father’s day, my sister and I cooked again. I mean, it’s only fair right, since we cooked for Mother’s Day? Haha, but of course we did it out of love. This is what we made this time around–sashimi, stir fried cabbage, Korean short ribs, seafood soup (not pictured), roasted broccoli (to be pictured soon and again), and blueberry chiffon cake for dessert! Normally I’d blog about the dessert…but I wasn’t too happy with how the cake looked. The whole cake deflated! It did still taste good, but perhaps next time when my cake decides to stay up.

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My pops is quite the character. He’s definitely spiritually gifted in the area of music, and it’s encouraging to see him use that gift to serve God. He leads worship, conducts choirs, serves at church–all for the glory of God. Growing up, he was the one who picked me up from school, took me to Chuck E Cheese, and played catch with me. He was the one with all the stories, jokes, and news, even those false chain letter email warnings that he always believed to be true. He was always there (like my momma!) to wipe away my tears, to listen to my struggles, and to make me laugh. Thanks daddy for being the best! Thank you for your encouragement and all that you’ve done for me these past 19 years. Thank you for being the leader for our family, and I hope I can continue to be a better daughter to you. I would post a picture, but you don’t like it when I put pictures of you online. I hope you come across this some day! I love you =)

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Roasted Broccoli. It sounded weird when my sister first gave me the recipe, but it actually came out to be quite tasty. A nice crisp and salty bite–I swear I had half the tray before it made it to the table. I normally don’t like roasting things because I’m always scared it’ll burn to a crisp because I’ll forget about it or something, or it’ll turn out dry and bland…but this wasn’t the case. You do have to be careful–even one minute overtime can cause some pieces to char. It’s a tasty and healthy snack, and I’m sure I’ll try it again!

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Roasted Broccoli
Serving Size: Depends
Adapted from Oh My Veggies

Ingredients:

Broccoli Florets
Oil
Seasonings
Salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then spray with cooking spray.

2. Place the cleaned broccoli florets on the baking sheet and drizzle or spray with additional oil. Sprinkle with seasonings of choice, and salt. Be careful not to over-salt (is that a word?) them!

3. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. These are best enjoyed warm!

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EZ PZ RIGHT?! Told ya. I hope you all had a fantastic and blessed Father’s Day! And at the end of the day, we have a Father who reigns in Heaven, who unconditionally loved us by sending His son Jesus to die on the cross for us; He is Sovereign over our lives and is magnificent and Holy! Have a great week! =) From your favorite chefs (jk):

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(Look at my puny little cake in the background. HAHA)

Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

Bacon Egg Cups

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Hello all!! Sorry for being MIA! These past few weeks have just been crazy–two big baking jobs, one missions trip, and a lot of things to be thankful for.

1) My first birthday cake! I should elaborate that it wasn’t just any ordinary birthday cake. It was a birthday cake for J’s second cousins, but here’s the catch: it had to feed 50 guests, and it had to be milk, nut, and egg free because of the boys’ allergies. It was a challenge, but I did it! I’m thankful for the challenge because I was able to go out of my comfort zone and I was able to learn a lot about cake making and decorating.

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I ended up making a two tiered cake covered with marshmallow fondant. The bottom tier was a rainbow cake with vanilla “buttercream,” and the top layer was a chocolate and Oreo cake with Oreo frosting in between. The theme was puppy pool party, so I used this picture of another cake from Pinterest that the mom sent me as a guide. I don’t have any other pictures of the cake, but once the mom sends me them (she’s a photographer!), I’ll be sure to make a post on it. I’m pretty proud of my work; I’m glad it turned out okay =) . I hope they liked it!!

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PowerPlant 2013 AKA P2 Missions in Phoenix, Arizona. It was definitely a blessing to be able to serve Crosspointe Church in Tartesso, Arizona by hosting a basketball camp for the kids in the community. I worked with the preschoolers and kindergarteners, so we had our own curriculum–we did games, crafts, and bible stories. I think it was a little difficult to get their attention, but it was still a joy to see them eager to learn about the Gospel (maybe because the evangecube was so interesting, I don’t know). We spent the last two out of four days of the camp sharing the Gospel with them, and it was encouraging to hear them tell me about what they learned by the end of the week. I’m only going to post one picture:

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This is Phoenix, Arizona. We climbed up to this place called South Mountain that overlooked the city, and it was pretty cool to see the city and the sunset. God’s creation is simply amazing. What’s sad is that so many people in Phoenix don’t know Christ–there are so many people there, but so few are saved. It’s pretty breathtaking. I’ll end this on one note: P2 Missions may be done, but the mission itself is never ending.

3) My first wedding dessert order! Jess and Aaron got married this past Friday, and it was a joy to see such an amazing couple become united in marriage. I thought it was cool how they asked their friends to take on big roles in the wedding; they asked me and two other friends to make “black and white” themed desserts, and I decided to make Oreo cheesecake bars. After 12+ hours, 611 Oreos, 9.75 cups of sour cream, 78 eggs, 5 sticks of butter, 26 cups of sugar, and 21 lbs of cream cheese, and lots and lots of help, patience, and encouragement, I succeeded! 460 Oreo cheesecake bars, at your service. There were a lot of leftovers, but I’m glad that people enjoyed them. I’m even happier for Jess and Aaron! Thanks for the opportunity! Congratulations you love birds =)!!!

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That’s my short update. It’s been a crazy past few weeks, but I’m glad to be back at work, back in the apartment, and back in the blogging world (not that I was really gone, hehe. ALTHOUGH the WordPress dashboard did change! I like it!).

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BACON. EGG. CUPS. Easy peasy, and sooo good. I’ll be honest; I was never really a fan of bacon…until I came across these. I made these for J’s birthday last year, and I’ve been making it ever since. Cook some bacon, line it in a cupcake tin, crack an egg, add seasonings, and bake away. 30 minutes, tops! Hope you all try them! The recipe comes from a YouTube video.

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Bacon Egg Cups
Serving Size: Depends
Adapted From Recipe Cards on YouTube

Ingredients:

Bacon
Eggs
Seasonings of your choice

1. On medium heat, fry bacon on a skillet until lightly browned on each side but still pliable. Make sure it doesn’t get crispy because it will continue to cook in the oven and it needs to be able to bend. Drain on paper towels and let cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line the muffin tins with bacon slices. To make it easier, line the tin with the meat side on the bottom and the fat on top. Cover the bottom of the muffin cup by placing a chunk of the bacon.

3. Crack an egg into each cup. Sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper. Bake until set, about 15-20 minutes. Loosen from cups and remove. Enjoy!!!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!