Temecula 

  

It’s nice to get a break from school, even for just 3 days. My nursing program goes through the summer and unfortunately, my summer semester just so happens to be my hardest semester. I finished the first half of summer semester and now I’m starting my second half of classes. In between, my husband treated me to Temecula Valley for some wining and dining. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the weekend!

  

Temecula is a short, 2-hour drive from our place and it’s cute and lovely. Old Town Temecula reminds me of a Western town, complete with wooden exteriors and Harleys diving through Main Street. The vineyards are roughly 5 miles from there, all lined up perfectly on one long street. What’s so great about wine tasting in Temecula is the wineries are all close to each other. It’s literally a one-minute drive from one winery to the next.

  

A couple of my favorites vineyards from the weekend include South Coast Wintery and Ponte Winery. I like the wines at Ponte better but the service from South Coast was top-notch! Now that I’ve done wine tasting in Temecula, I think I’m going to make this a thing haha.

Lemon poppyseed bundt 

It’s lemon season again! My apartment is filled with lemons, given in abundance from family who grows it organically and locally in their backyard. I was never really into citrus desserts, but over the years, it has grown on me. I wouldn’t necessarily pick a lemon dessert over a chocolate one but there’s something lovely and fresh about lemon flavored sweets.

Since I have more lemons than I know what to do with, I’ve been making lemon desserts like crazy. First, it was a lemon blueberry bread (which was given away before any photos were taken; hence, no blog post) and now, this…

Lemon Poppyseed Bundt
recipe modified from Sprinkle Some Sugar

Ingredients
Lemon Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 stick of melted, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon poppyseed

Lemon Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan. Set aside.

Lightly whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and vanilla on medium until they are thickened and very pale yellow in color.

Melt butter in microwave then pour into batter and mix until smooth. Alternate flour mixture and milk into batter and mix until smooth. Add poppyseed and incorporate into batter. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Allow cake to finish cooling until warm to the touch.

For the glaze, whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice, using more or less lemon juice as needed to get desired consistency. Once cake is cooled down slightly, drizzle glaze over warm cake.

Half way done

I’m officially half way done with nursing school! I seriously cannot believe it – where did the months go? I started at the end of August and now it’s already May 1st. The past 8 months have been a huge learning curve. I had to relearn how to study with concepts and theory in a whole different language – medical language. The classes were a challenge, every single day. But the biggest reward, isn’t the grade or the achievements, but the patients’ appreciation for my presence.

During clinicals in the hospital when I’m actually doing patient care and interacting with the patients is where I get why I’m putting myself through so much to be a nurse. Being part of a stranger’s healing process puts every struggle back into perspective. I have complete trust in God’s plan for me and I’m blessed to be able to do His good work for others through the care I provide.

Now…back to my mini break of 3 days before starting a new semester!  

No bake protein bites

I’ve been working out regularly for the past 3+ years. I go through phases when I’m really active, going to the gym and doing physical activity ~3x/week paired with phases when I’m lazy and just bum around the house all day. Usually these phases go hand in hand with vacations and summer. Since summer is coming, I’m in my amped-up health fitness phase. I’m working out and eating right.

These protein or energy bites have been in the scene for a short while now but I never got around to trying them out until now. I used Gimme Some Oven‘s recipe because it’s easy enough to follow. I did not take time to grind up the flax seeds – they’re delicious whole and I enjoy the texture they give the bites.

  

I didn’t measure anything, just kind of eye-balled it and add more when deemed appropriate. This is an adaptation of Gimme Some Oven’s recipe and you can certainly make any changes to a “dump and mix” kind of recipe. The best thing about these bites, they’re delicious! Very filling too.

No Bake Protein Bites
recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.

Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like.

Store in an air tight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Chocolate bundt cake 

I love all sorts of sweets. Most often, I lean towards chocolate goodness. There’s something about the silky, smooth, decadent chocolate cake that always hit the mark for me. I’m excited that bundt cake is making its way back to every kitchen’s recipe book again. Just a few years ago, bundt cakes were something from the 70s that moms made. Now with the popularity of Nothing Bundt Cakes dessert stores nationwide, it’s making quite the come back.

This cake is beyond perfect. It’s moist and airy, with just the right amount of richness. What brings this cake to the moon is the intensely smooth and rice icing. It calls for a good amount of black coffee and you can really taste it in the entire bundt cake. I’m in love with it. I look forward to every occasion when I can make this cake again!

Chocolate Bundt Cake
recipe from Joy the Baker

For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups, plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted

For the Glaze:
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled

Instructions:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan and set aside.

To make the cake batter: Put brewed coffee and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute. Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.

Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. The batter will be very loose. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

To make the icing: Chop the chocolate into small pieces, put them in a heatproof bowl with the butter and heat in the microwave. Whisk the melted butter into the melted chocolate until thoroughly incorporated. Sift in half of the powdered sugar. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine. Sift in the remaining powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. The glaze should be thick and shiny. Lastly, add the coffee and whisk to create a glossy glaze.

Pour the glaze over the bundt cake, covering it completely. Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.

Puerto Vallarta 

There was no time between school and spring break to let you know that I was leaving for Puerto Vallarta before I flew out. I ended school on Friday and flew out first thing Saturday morning. I barely had any time to pack! Good thing bathing suits are light.

The first two months of this year has been just insanely fast. That’s what happens when I had to keep my head down day and night to study I guess. I’m so extremely blessed to have a husband that understands the high demand of my nursing program. To maximize on the time off during spring break, we decided to treat ourselves to a relaxing beach vacation. You know how much I love those!

PV was amazing. It’s a short plane ride away from SoCal (only 2.5 hours). We share the same water and coast – the Pacific West Coast – so it actually reminded me so much of home. The water is warm and the people are incredibly friendly and nice. We made a handful of friends at the resort we were staying at, most of them were from the bitter cold states and Canada, escaping their harsh winter. I always felt a tinged of “my bad” when I told them where we were from haha.

I love Mexico. Everything about it – food, culture, hospitality, lifestyle, and people – it never disappoints. I’ve been to several Mexico cities from both coast and I gotta say Cancun is still the best. But PV definitely win in terms of the people. Oh, and the food. The food was spectacular this trip!