Band Competition 2014

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The past few weekends have been VERY busy. I’m part of my air cadet squadron’s marching band, and we’ve been practicing every weekend for hours on end trying to perfect our routine for the Lower Mainland Band Competition.

Music has always been a big part of my life (well, my name IS Rhythm after all). Without band, I would’ve never had any interest at all to join cadets. Every year, around 15-20 sea, army, and air cadet bands compete for the much coveted, “A” Division trophy. I was privileged enough to be chosen as the parade commander for the awards ceremony, which basically meant that I had to deliver commands to 1000 cadets…talk about losing my voice!

After *500 HUNDRED 25 THOUSAND 6 HUNDRED MINUTTEESESS* (haha you see what I did there? ;)) of extremely hard work by the cadets of the band, I’m proud to say that WE WON BAND COMPETITION THIS YEAR WOOHOO! and EVERYONE knows that when there is celebration, there’s always CAKE! I went a little crazy today, but after 5 hours, I have finally baked enough for everyone in the band, which is around 70 cupcakes!

IMG_0638I only realized how big my squadron’s band actually was when I got the chance to see the replay of our band competition routine. Just look at that beautiful trophy :’)

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If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do! It’s worth every minute, trust me 😉

http://youtu.be/e5PQQjPY_2A

Song/Drill Selections:
1. Mission Theme 
2. Howl’s Moving Castle – Waltzing in circles

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3. A Bridge Too Far
4. Across The Stars (From Star Wars) – Wifi
5. Seasons of Love (From Rent) – Circle bursting and forming into “759”

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Thank you cadets of 759 for leaving me with such a wonderful gift in my last year as an air cadet! I can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for next year 🙂

Cheers!

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*Band photo and video credits to Mr. Eugenio Cordeiro

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Coffee Bean Cookies

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all studying hard for your exams. Although it’s important to make use of every minute to stuff that textbook in your memory, it’s always good to relax and get some oxygen into your brain!

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You’re probably thinking, “How do you have so much time to bake during exam season?” Well, I’m “lucky” to have had all my exams within the span of 4 days, which ended last Tuesday. It was stressful, but at least now I’m stress-free to do whatever I want 🙂

So today, I bring to you my newest creation, Coffee Bean Cookies! Whether you’re on the go or needing something to munch on for late-night study sessions, this is the perfect treat to get your caffeine fix!

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Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Flour

2 Tbspn Cocoa Powder

1/4 Tspn Baking Powder

1 pack of Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee Powder

A pinch of salt

2 Tbspn Softened Butter

3 Tbspn White Sugar

1/8 Egg

*These measurements make 53 coffee bean cookies. The numbers look a bit weird because they’re actually cut from a recipe for regular cocoa cookies. Of course, you can always double or triple this recipe to make 100s of coffee bean cookies!

Procedure:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Then, add the egg and mix well

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, instant coffee powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients

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4. Form the dough into tiny ovals on a baking sheet. *Be sure to size the ovals so that they are 3/4 as small as the size you want them to be after they bake. They WILL expand when they bake, so make them smaller just to be on the safe side

5. Using a tooth pick, lightly press on the surface of each oval to make the “dents” that coffee beans usually have. Since the cookies expand when they bake, make the dent at least half the thickness of the cookie

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6. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. If your cookies expand too much and the dents end up being non-existent, you can take them out at the halfway mark (5 minutes) and remake the dents

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IMG_6332Happy studying and I hope these goodies help keep your mind awake! 🙂

 

 

 

MRE Cupcakes…Say What?

Today, I introduce my newest creation: The MRE Cocoa Powder Smore’s Cupcake.

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Yes. I did it. I turned a field meal into a delicious cupcake. I can go anywhere as long as I have the imagination 😉

For those of you who don’t know, MREs stand for “Meals Ready To Eat.” It’s what military personnel (and cadets) eat when they go on exercises, such as the Field Training Exercise that I went on with my air cadet squadron.

IMG_5811Me lookin’ spiffy in my combats.

These meal packs look almost like the meals that astronauts eat. Each pack contains 1 meal, 1 side, 1 snack, and a couple drink mixes. Everything is vacuum sealed “for freshness.”

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Meals: Apple maple oatmeal, spaghetti, lasagna, chili with beans, sloppy joes

Sides: Fried rice, hash browns with bacon, apple sauce

Snacks: Pop tarts, cookies, crackers, wheat snack bread*

     *The wheat snack bread is literally half a loaf of bread crammed into one slice.

Condiments: Tabasco sauce, jam, cheese spread

Drinks: Cocoa, electrolyte drinks, pudding, milkshakes

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This FTX was aimed to be for level ones, which are cadets aged 12-13. They get to build their own shelters and experience what it is to live out in the woods for 3 days and 2 nights. There are also senior cadet instructors (like me) who teach them about survival skills, such as how to filter water, respect the environment, and make fires.

This was the FIRST TIME in my entire cadet career that it was NOT RAINING FOR 72 HOURS STRAIGHT. I was so happy to finally see the sun, I even got a little bit tanned!

Me and another senior cadet were designated the “cooks” for the weekend, meaning we had to cut and prepare 100+ MRE meals for every meal…it was killer on the hands.

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It was very cute to see them have their first MRE though. It’d only be 2 meals and they already knew the “most wanted” and “least wanted” meals that MREs had to offer.

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Another thing is when some of them came up to me to grab their meal, they said “YAY, we finally get to try some RhythmNoms!” I was so surprised to hear that because I don’t have any of them on Facebook, but somehow they’ve managed to find that hashtag and use it. I’m glad my brand is spreading so far!

Anyways, back to the cupcake itself, I was sad that it didn’t turn out that well. The cupcake was edible, but it was just too soft (I know, the only time I complain about a cake being too soft)! You could literally just take the muffin top off by pulling on it.

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On the other hand, I MADE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM FROSTING EVER. I will post the recipe soon, but I am so convinced that it is the best frosting I will ever make. It looked BEAUTIFUL when I piped it on, and it wan’t too sweet either.

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I had extra graham crackers left over from the FTX so I just topped them on like S’mores.

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Anyways, I need to get back to studying now. Thank you for stopping by and reading about my FTX adventures! I’ll be posting more recipes once my exams are done. 3 down, 1 more too go!

Cheers 🙂

“Do You Want to Build a Mudman?”: Baking with Siblings

It is often said that 2 brains are better than 1.

Making chocolate cookies and squirting Nutella on them, how hard can it be? Well, I spoke to soon.

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My class ended late on Thursday and it wasn’t until 9:30PM that my brother and I started baking. It was supposed to be a quick treat, 30 minutes tops. I recently bought new cookie cutters that were made specifically for cookie sandwiches so I was glad I finally got a chance to use them.

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I found a chocolate cookie recipe online that asked for “2 sticks of butter.” Being the tired student I was, I automatically assumed that it meant 2 bricks of butter. Yeup. 2 BRICKS. 

There was a little voice in the back of my head saying “isn’t that a little bit too much?” But since I already started mixing the ingredients, I dismissed the voice and joked around, concluding that it was an American recipe anyway, and that lots of butter was normal. My brother agreed with me and didn’t question me at all.

My brother also managed to squish an egg until it exploded, splattering egg shells and egg whites every where (don’t ask me, I don’t know how he did that). But here’s a picture of him inspecting the dough to ensure that there were no egg shells in it:

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After I finished mixing the dough, it was abnormally moist, but again, I justified my speculation by thinking it needed more chilling time. So I placed the dough in the fridge to chill, and went back to my computer to check on social media. Well, the website with the recipe appeared, and just to reconfirm the amount of butter, I looked at the recipe again…2 sticks….2 STICKS?!

IT FINALLY OCCURRED TO ME.

My original plan was to make half the recipe, so I put in “1 stick” (aka one brick)* already in the cookie mix. So in the end, I had to QUADRUPLE every ingredient in the recipe since I put in 4 times the amount of butter. The math was killing me and I was so mad that I now had the amount of dough enough to make 160 cookies.

*Just a little bit of background knowledge, 1 stick = 1/2 Cup, while 1 brick = 2 Cups

And guess what Dynamic did? He made a mudman.

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So that was just a quick summary of a very long night of baking. The cookies did end up being really good (yay!). Thank goodness I have a sibling who can give away cookies to his friends at school, otherwise, my house would smell like buttery mess. It was also good sibling bonding time to see how we could go through trials together, even in baking.

Lesson Learned: It’s helpful to bake with a partner who will actually ask you what you’re doing so that you catch silly mistakes like adding 4 times the amount of butter!

Nutella Cookie Sandwiches:

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Chocolate Cookie Fruits Tarts:

Because I had so much cookie dough and it was also Pi Day (March 14th)

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Congratulations MAJOR Wong!

If you’re an air cadet, you know that there are 8 ranks in total:

1. Air Cadet (AC)

2. Leading Air Cadet (LAC)

3. Corporal (Cpl)

4. Flight Corporal (FCpl)

5. Sergeant (Sgt)

6. Flight Sergeant (FSgt)

7. Warrant Officer Second Class (WO2)

8. Warrant Officer First Class (WO1)

We got it pretty easy in Canada because the first four ranks are automatic promotions based on the years of service in the cadet program. In New Zealand, every rank is earned. They have to apply to go to special courses in order to acquire the skills needed for the next rank, even if it is just getting promoted to a Cpl.

Well yesterday night was a special night, not only because the first years got promoted to their first rank of LAC, but also because our Commanding Officer, Capt Wong, got promoted to a Major! This is one of the higher ranks an officer can achieve.

To celebrate this special occasion, the Parent Sponsoring Committee decided to have a refreshment table after closing parade.

For all the recipes I’ve made this far, I’ve made them in fairly small batches, the minimum being 2 cupcakes, and the maximum being 15 cupcakes. I wanted to make use of this opportunity to make something for a purpose. I usually just bake for fun and come up with random ideas, but this time, I wanted to create a batch of cupcakes for people to celebrate with in a special setting.

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So, I decided to make something personalized for my CO’s promotion, and I wanted to make lots of it. I felt like I was an actual baker for a moment because I was baking so much at a time, and filling a huge piping back with lots of icing because there were so many tops to ice! I was also working under a time constraint because I only had 2 hours to bake a bunch of cupcakes and perfect my entire uniform.

This time, I played around with making chocolate figures, such as backgrounds and letters. I was very glad they turned out exactly as I planned!

I was quite happy to see the cupcakes go away so quickly after closing parade – The plate was swept clean 15 minutes in! Unfortunately, someone ate the “A” before I could take a decent picture, but here it is anyway!

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So have fun with what I learned about making chocolate pieces 🙂

STEPS:

1. Melt the chocolate using proper chocolate melting techniques

2. While the chocolate is melting, place a piece of parchment paper on a tray that will fit into your freezer

3. Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper, and use a straight edge to spread it out so that it is at least 4 mm thick

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*Too thin is not good because the whole sheet will crack while it is contracting in the freezer. *Too thick is not good because it will be hard to cut up after it freezes

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4. After 5 minutes, bring the sheet of chocolate out of the freezer. Using a sharp knife, cut down the middle of the chocolate to release tension

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5. Cut the sheet into slices lengthwise, and then widthwise

6. Pop them off of the parchment paper gently by putting your hand under the parchment paper

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7. Place the piece of chocolate upside down so that the smoother side (side that was touching the parchment paper) faces up

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8. Decorate the top of the chocolate slices with icing or a different tone of chocolate. Enjoy! 🙂

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Cake Balls: How To Turn a Fail Cake into a Delicious Dessert

How did a fail batch of cupcakes turn into an artisan treat? Well, I took a tip from a blog post by my professional baker friend, Rosy Choi, on how to turn baking disasters into new delicious treats 🙂

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My original plan was to make green tea matcha cupcakes. I wanted to make a chiffon cake instead of normal cupcake because I wanted to capture the Asian essence of the green tea component. I played around with using only egg whites…well it didn’t turn out so well.

The cupcakes came out in such an odd form. The cupcake itself was “straight.” Usually, cupcakes have a muffin top. The muffin top didn’t just not appear, it shrunk. Yes, a huge crater formed on the top AND the bottom of the cupcake. The middle of the cakes were 1cm less thick than the walls. In short…this batch was absolutely not presentable.

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So what did I do with this fail batch of cupcakes? Usually, I would’ve just given them all to my dad to eat because he eats anything. BUT, after reading Rosy’s post, I decided to take her awesome advice to make cake pops out of them!

What a genius idea! It’s so simple that I wonder how I never thought about that myself. Cake crumbles, icing, chocolate, it’s such a simple recipe that makes such a good treat! I’m so glad I didn’t have to waste a whole batch of cupcakes, and instead, make something that was even more delicious. Thank you so much for your advice Rosy 🙂

Everyone please check out her blog! She has her own company called “Rosy’s Bake Shoppe,” and she also makes a lot of dinner recipes.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know your comments 🙂

Ingredients:

Cake (If you don’t have cake “scraps” to use, baking a cake is fine too)

Icing (If you don’t have leftover icing, making your own icing is fine too)

Mini cupcake liners (Cake balls) or sticks (Cake pops)

Let’s get rollin’!

 1. Mash up the cake until it is crumbly

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*If you baked your own cake, let the cake cool completely before you start crumbling it. Otherwise, the cake will stick together because there is a lot of moisture and heat

2. Knead the cake crumbles with icing until the mixture is able to stand by itself without crumbling (you can try rolling some into balls at this point to see if they break or not). I’m not giving any measurements because it really depends on the type of “mistake” had. If it’s too dry, use more icing. If it’s too moist (like my batch), use less icing.

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3. Roll the dough into balls about 2-3cm thick depending on whether you’re making a cake pop or ball. Cake pops are usually bigger than cake balls.

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*Don’t make the ball too big for the cake pop, or else it might fall off the stick when you are dipping it in chocolate

4. Place in the fridge for at least 45 minutes so that the balls stiffen and don’t fall apart

*Cake pops: Dab the end of a stick into melted chocolate and then stick it halfway through the cake ball before you place everything in the fridge

5. Melt chocolate using proper chocolate melting techniques. Place the ball into the chocolate and use a spoon to smother it with chocolate. Shake the spoon around to get the excess chocolate off

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*Cake pops: Dip the cake-end into the chocolate and use a spoon to round the chocolate. Be careful not to press too hard, or else the whole cake will fall off the stick

6. Transfer the ball onto parchment paper, and place into the fridge to let harden

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*Cake pops: You can either insert the stick into a colander or make your own Styrofoam tray for it to try and serve

7. Take the balls out and decorate it however you like (Ex. sprinkles, drizzling with chocolate)

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IMG_4317 8. Place the balls into mini cupcake liners and they’re ready to serve!

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Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

To bring back the old memories of handing out Valentine’s Day card in elementary school, I decided to make edible Valentines this year. It worked out well because most of my friends had midterms yesterday night, so hopefully my cupcakes brightened up their day 🙂

This cupcake had a lot of components to it:

  1. Graham cracker crust bottom
  2. Vanilla Cake
  3. Strawberry cheesecake center
  4. Cream cheese icing
  5. Chocolate-dipped strawberry
  6. Edible personalized chocolate heart

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This was my first time experimenting with baking a filled cupcake, and I’m so glad it worked out right the first time! I’ve been experimenting a lot over the past week, and I’m starting to bloat up with a spoon here and a test-taste there :S

The edible chocolate heart was the hardest component of this cupcake to make because they were so fragile and kept on breaking! But other than that, this recipe is very easy, and a very delightful treat too!

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and share with me your experience! 🙂

CUPCAKE:

1. Line the bottom of your cupcake liner with 1 tsp of graham cracker crust. Use the teaspoon to press down on the crust so that it coats the bottom evenly

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2. Fill the liner halfway with cupcake batter

3. Place a piece of cheesecake in the centre of the liner

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4. Add cupcake batter onto the cheesecake so that when the cupcake bakes, there’s cake on top of the cheesecake. Your liner should now be 3/4 full

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DECORATIONS:

1. Pipe cream cheese frosting on top of the cupcake and place a chocolate-dipped strawberry on top of it

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2. Melt chocolate and pipe hearts onto wax paper. Make sure that the heart has a long tail so that it can be inserted into the cupcake. Place the hearts into the freezer for 3 minutes

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3. Melt milk or dark chocolate to pipe your Valentine’s name. Ensure that the letters touch the outline of the heart as much as possible so that when the complete figure dries, it will come off as one figure. Place the figures into the freezer for 3 minutes

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4. Using a knife, slit a hole where you want the figure to be inserted

5. Insert the figure by holding on to the tail. If you hold the heart itself, it will break

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…and now you have edible Valentines ready to be delivered! Happy baking 🙂