[Foodie] Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

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I was so thankful to have witnessed the ordination of Berean Community Church’s two pastors two weeks ago – Pastor Peter Chung and Pastor Mark Lim. It was one of the largest blessings and encouragements to see these men dedicate their lives to ministry and more importantly to serving the Lord! It really challenged my entire view of ministry and what it means to live a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called, but a more complete post on this will come soon.

I had the distinct pleasure of preparing snacks for the ordination service and for such a special event, I really wanted to make some special snacks! So I busted out the mixer and the measuring cups to make 300 mini cupcakes (plus an array of other goodies).  I don’t have many talents but God did give me ability to bake my butt off so anything to serve the church! Even if it’s just cupcakes!

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Nutella Cinnamon Roll cupcakes and Sour Cream Raspberry/Blueberry cupcakes were the treats of choice and I must say, they were pretty yum. Couldn’t help but sneak a few before they made it out onto the table but no worries, I only ate the ugly ones…! The Nutella ones really were a labor of love and so I’d love to share them with ya’ll so you can also share the love!

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Nutella is indeed one of God’s gifts to the foodie world. I was really never a huge fan of cinnamon rolls until I tried these nutella cinnamon rolls that are absolutely to die for. The nutella makes the cinnamon rolls extra gooey, extra moist, and extra deeeelicious! You can bake them in large batches like traditional cinnamon rolls OR you can bake them into individual cupcakes, which I do because it makes me feel like I’m eating less and therefore I feel less guilty. Makes sense right?!

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Anyways, this process is quite arduous and long so please be patient and set aside enough time for all the magic to happen.

An hour for the scalded milk to cool.

An hour for the dough to rise.

A half an hour to knead, spread, and cut the rolls.

A half an hour for the rolls to rise.

A half an hour for the rolls to bake, cool, and get glazed.

And only 10 minutes to eat them all….ugh.

It really important to give your milk time to cool and your dough time to rise. Don’t rush through it! It’s important to let all the magic (aka chemistry) happen in order for your rolls to be scrumptious.

Couple of notes:

Scalding your milk means bringing it to an ALMOST boil. After you mix the milk, oil and sugar together, mix it until it’s very well incorporated and put it on medium-high heat. Don’t walk away from it and don’t let it overcook.  You don’t get the typical boiling signs you see with other liquids so it may be hard to tell when it’s about to boil over but when it does, it’ll happen real fast!

Rolling and Cutting your rolls can be done in a couple ways. The way I like best is to roll your dough into a long rectangle. After you’ve spread your nutella and cinnamon, roll up the dough looong way – or as I learned in elementary school, Hot Dog Way! – until you feel it is a good sized roll. Slice and repeat until all the dough it rolled up. Use floss or string to cut up the dough into about one to two inch rolls.

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And if you have to ask yourself the question, more nutella is ALWAYS better. The recipe calls for one cup but….I just like to make sure the whole thing gets enough lovin’!

Needless to say, these were devoured and everyone’s tummy was happy 🙂 Hope these make your tummy happy and brighten up your kitchen!

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Happy baking and happy eating!

~Juang

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze 

ADAPTED FROM Sugarcrafter

INGREDIENTS

For Cinnamon Rolls

  • Two Cups of Whole Milk
  • Half Cup of Vegetable Oil
  • Half Cup of Sugar
  • Two and One Fourth Teaspoon of Active Dry Yeast (or one packet)
  • Five Cups of Flour
  • Half Teaspoon of Salt
  • Half Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • Half Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • One Stick of Butter
  • One Cup of Nutella
  • Cinnamon

For Glaze

  • Two Cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 7-8 Tablespoons of Whole Milk
  • Four Oz. of Cream Cheese, Room Temp
  • Half Stick of Butter, Room Temp

DIRECTIONS

  1. Scald the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar (heat until just before it boils). Remove from heat and let it rest until lukewarm (about 45 minutes-one hour)
  2. Whisk yeast into milk mixture and let it dissolve.
  3. Incorporate four cups of flour and let it rise for at least one hour.
  4. Mix together baking soda, baking powder, salt, and remaining cup of flour. Knead the dough onto floured surface with the dry mixture until it is incorporated.
  5. Roll out the dough into a large rectangular shape with an even width (it’s ok if the edges aren’t perfect!)
  6. Cut the butter into cubes and melt it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Mix in the nutella until it is smooth.
  7. Spread the nutella mixture evenly onto the rolled out dough. BE GENEROUS!!!!!
  8. Sprinkle a healthy amount of cinnamon onto the dough.
  9. Roll up the dough into desired size and pinch off the ends. Cut the roll into about one inch segments with a piece of string or floss.
  10. Place cut rolls into a baking pan or individual cupcake molds and let them rise for about 20-30 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 370F.
  12. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. In the meantime, make your glaze! Cream together the butter and cream cheese until very smooth.
  14. Mix together the powdered sugar and milk separately. Mix all glaze components together until smooth.
  15. Once the cinnamon rolls are out of the oven, let them cool before drizzling glaze over it.
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Army 101

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If you had told me two years ago that I would be dating someone in the military, I would have been like Homegirl, please. I never would have even imagined considering a life in the military but thankfully God in his perfect sovereignty gave me Matthew so here I am, learning the ins and outs of everything military!

First thing I realized when I got myself into all this is that I know absolutely nothing about the military and neither does the vast majority of the public [even those with some connection to the military]. In this post, I will break down the various parts of the military, different terms and definitions, as well as a very general process/timeline to make things a little easier to understand! Many friends ask with good intentions about Matthew’s plans without really understanding what they’re asking but genuinely wanting to know what he’s up to so with each section, I will also explain how it pertains to Matthew.

So here is a year and a half’s worth of hard conversations, clarified confusions, and learned knowledge about the many military paths one can take. Hope it helps and clears the clouds a little on what it means to be in the military!

[Note] My explanation detailing aspects of the military is VERY general and officer oriented. Things can always be different and there are always exceptions but this is just to help you get an overall idea of what it’s like. 

What Does It Mean To Be In The Military?

There are five main divisions of military, each with very distinct roles and attributes.

  1. Army – This is usually what people think of when it comes to being a soldier.
  2. Air Force – They play a large role in controlling the skies and provide air support to troops in need during war. Even though most people think of pilots when they think of Air Force, only 1% of soldiers actually fly the planes, while the remainder support the men in the air.
  3. Marine Corps – They are  similar to Army but branched out of the Navy. Mostly, they’re responsible to provide rapid combined-arms forces whenever there is a national situation.
  4. Navy – The Navy deals with anything related to the waters. They provide support for troops from the sea and encounter the potential threats in the deep blue sea.
  5. Coast Guard – They guard the coasts! Crazy huh? Haha but seriously, they are very important because they make sure that no foreigners trespass our coasts and keep our waters safe.

Being in the military doesn’t actually mean that you’ll see combat or even war. There are actually plenty of roles within the military that are not in the line of fire but are equally as important. I’ll talk more about these a little later.

[Matthew is part of the Army. From this point on, I will be speak more directly from this division.]

How Do You Get Into The Army?

There are two ways to get into the Army, as well as two defined roles in the Army.

  • Officer – Going the officer route usually is a fairly long process that involves more training and evaluation prior to attaining officer status. Many people choose to do this through the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program, a military academy like Westpoint, or OCS (Officer Candidate School) which is a condensed, 10 week version of ROTC. Aspiring officers need to perform well in order to be competitive enough to attain their component, branch, and station.
  • Enlisted –  Going the enlisted route can be done by visiting your local recruiting office and signing up. After taking ASVAB (military mulitiple choice test), you’re placed into your field/line of work and then go through Basic training. Once you’re done, you go into specific areas depending on your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty).

[Matthew decided to go the officer route through the UC Irvine ROTC program.]

What Is The Service Obligation To the Army?

There are several ways to answer this question. First is the daily commitment – Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard.

  • Active Duty pretty much means that being in the Army is your full-time job, but not that you are deployed. You work from about 6am-5pm with physical training in the morning during regular work week days (for the most part) and the rest of the time is yours to spend as you wish! It’s kinda like…if you primarily spent time working on projects in your corporate office and then flew out on a business trip for a few weeks to meet with clients.
  • Reserves is when you are in the Army part-time and come in to train one or two weekends out of the month. Many soldiers who are in reserve hold a full-time civilian job. There are no combat arms in Reserve, they only provide support. It’s also easier to move around since  you’re not held down to a specific State.
  • National Guard is similar to Reserve in the sense that you meet one weekend a month to train. The difference is that there are combat arms in the National Guard and you respond to emergencies within the state you are stationed.

That’s more of your daily commitment I guess you could say. The overall commitment is the numbers of years you are committed to serving the Army, called MSO (Military Service Obligation), which is listed in your military contract. Generally, if you go the ROTC route, you’re obligated to 3-4 years and can stay as long as retirement, which is about 20 years. Some soldiers will be on Active Duty for part of their MSO and then switch over to the Reserves/National Guard. However, you can be deployed at any time during your service. This is relevant for both officers and enlisted soldiers.

*  *  * This is a good time to clarify what it means to be DEPLOYED. A scary word indeed. Deployment happens if and only if the US needs troops to go somewhere to complete a task or mission.  Being in the military does NOT automatically mean that you are deployed or that the only time you are involved in military affairs is when you are deployed. In fact some soldiers never see deployment although the chances are unlikely. *  *  *

[Matthew is going Active Duty and is contracted to serve for 7 years. He won’t know when he is going to be deployed until the Army needs him once he begins his service.]

What Do You Do In The Army?

There are actually a lot of different roles in the Army and not all of them are combat oriented. Your Branch is what role or specialization you have in the Army, such as:

  • Infantry
  • Armor
  • Aviation
  • Engineers
  • Finance
  • Military Police
  • Medical Service
  • Adjutant General
  • Transportation
  • Quartermaster

(There are a total of seventeen in the Army.)

I like to think of this almost like….your major in college! Just like how you can choose between a variety of majors in college to specialize in, you can also choose a branch to specialize in. Officers tend to have more general training regarding their branch (since they are overseeing a group of men) whereas enlisted soldiers tend to have much more specialized training in certain aspects of their branch (in order to carry out those job specific tasks).

Obviously there are a lot of daily tasks and specific training per each branch, which I am not as familiar with so this is a much more general answer.

[Matthew has branched Infantry, which is a HUGE answered prayer as it was his first choice branch ever since he could remember and is one of the more competitive branches! We even threw him a big ole’ party cuz we were so proud!]

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Where Do You Live When You’re In The Army?

Your Station/Post/Base  is where you live if you are on Active Duty in the Army. If you love traveling, then you’re in luck! There are US military stations all across the county and even the world! Hawaii, Germany, Georgia, California, and Korea are all up for grabs.  Many times, you will stay up to 2-4 years or as little as one year  before the Army moves you to a different station (based on demand and need). There is housing (usually barracks) on the actual Army base that you have the option to live in OR you can take advantage of off-post housing and live in the neighboring city.

Stations can be very competitive to get depending on your branch.  Just like how your branch is your major in college, this is much like which college you decide to go to. In the same way that certain colleges are better for certain majors, certain stations specialize in and are better suited for certain branches.

[We don’t know just yet where Matthew will be stationed, but hopefully we’ll have an update in the next week or so!]

From Civilian to Officer

Matthew went through an extremely long process to finally becoming an officer and he’s still workin’ hard! By God’s grace, he has brought Matthew through all of this and is continuing to be his strength as he enters into this last stretch. So what exactly did this guy have to go through?! This process is what most hopeful officers have to go through when in the ROTC program (with some variation of course).

  1. UC Irvine ROTC – This consists of meeting every morning (at 5AM mind you…) to learn, train, and prepare for some of the larger evaluations that come up throughout the year. Meetings consist of PT (physical training), labs (hands-on training), classes, and performance evaluations.
  2. FTX (Field Training Exercise) – There are a couple that take place each year and cadets are evaluated on their performance based on the knowledge learned at the respective campus programs. The two largest parts of FTX are Day Land Nav and Night Land Nav where cadets have to be able to find a certain number of points spread out on a 5 mile radius with nothing more than a map, compass, and protractor. Other key areas of evaluation are STX (Squad Tactical Excercise) and Patrolling, which are simulated missions where you must brief and lead either a squad (STX) or a platoon (patrolling). Your score during FTX will factor into your overall campus score that will determine how competitive you are during assessions.
  3. Contracting – Usually in the middle of their second year, cadets must decide if they are going to take a military career seriously by “contracting” or if they just want to remain in the program for kicks. When they sign their contract, they commit to serving in the army for a certain number of years.
  4. LDAC – This is the mother of all ROTC evaluations and is not to be taken lightly. It’s a one month evaluation in the summer prior to your senior year where cadets are tested on everything in the book. Day land nav, night land nav, physical fitness test, completing missions, briefings, you name it. Performing well means boosting your competitive score and also making an impression in the amongst your peers and evaluators. Cadets that maintain the highest possible range of scores for each event receive Recondo and can receive awards at the end of the camp for their achievements. [BTW, Matthew received Recondo after completing LDAC and finished in the top 10% of his platoon. HOLLA!]
  5. Accessions – After LDAC, at the beginning of your senior year, cadets have all of their evaluations and various components over the past years collected to assess into their component, branch, and post.
  6. Commissioning – This is when you finally graduate and become attain officer status! There’s a great big ceremony filled with lots important military personnel 🙂
  7. BOLC (Basic Officer Leadership Course) – Every officer goes through this training, which lasts for about 4 months where officers learn the ins and outs of being an exceptional leader! While there is some classroom time, a lot of the learning is done out on the field. Makes sense since the Army’s motto is “Train like you fight and fight like you train.” It is quite like holding a regular job – you’re off around 5 and weekends are yours to spend as you wish (with some exceptions for certain weeks).
  8. Ranger School – This is as close to death as you’ll get. 2 months of non stop physical training, multiple phases to evaluate your skill sets, and only 3-4 hours of sleep per night. Sound hard? Well, if you don’t pass a phase, you have to do it all over again until you do. And the only way you can get out is if you pass, you quit, or you get kicked out. If you DO pass, you get the treasured Ranger Tab and bragging rights for life. [Matthew will need extra prayer when he goes through this….]
  9. Additional Training – There is the opportunities to take additional training after Ranger School if you’d like to in order to receive more specialized training in a particular area. To my understanding, most people can get around two or three schools and each one can last from a couple weeks to a couple months.
  10. And It Begins…. – Once you finish all your training and you are officially stationed, you begin your contract and start living your life as an Army Officer!

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Well, there it is! Whew. I am definitely not an expert yet and thankful, Matthew is patient enough to explain everything to me 🙂 Even all this is very general information but I really hope that it helps and gives you a little glimpse of what it’s like on the road to the military!

Peace out

~ Juang

[Did I miss something? Please be gracious, I am still learning, too! Please let me know if you have nuggets of knowledge to add or any adjustments by commenting below!]

[Foodie] Basil-Spinach Pesto Sauce

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Hands down, pesto is my favorite sauce of all time. Anything that has pesto, I automatically want like 1000 times more.

Pesto Pasta. Yes.

Pesto in sandwiches. Yes.

Pesto Pizza. Double Yes.

Pesto with chicken. Pesto with salmon. Pesto with basically any protein. Yes, yes, and heck yes.

Being the [“poor”] college student I was, I decided why pay for it when I can just make the darn thing at home [and have it taste a heck of a lot better]?? A tried and true recipe, this pesto sauce has brighten up many a dinner table and been the envy of many co-workers at the lunch table. Mind you, I am horrible at following strict measurements when it comes to cooking so not a worry if you don’t follow it to a tee! It’s a fairly simple and straight forward recipe so you can pass right by that pesto sauce at the grocery store next time and make it yourself instead :))

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When I told Matthew I was gonna make us pesto for dinner, he came ready to help , fully equipped with his hamburger socks that I gave him for Christmas!!!

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Ugh too perfect. Hipster Hamburger socks.

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The sauce is such a bright, brilliant green that seriously lights up any dish and with all the spinach, it also makes me feel like I’m being healthy by “eating more vegetables”. Cheating the food pyramid! Anyways, this made for a delightful meal and we are already planning to eat it again this week 🙂

Until next time, happy eating!

-Juang

Simple Basil-Spinach Pesto Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • One Cup Spinach
  • Half Cup Basil Leaves
  • One Fourth Cup Walnuts/Pine Nuts
  • One Fourth Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • One Fourth Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Two or Three Cloves of Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rough chop your nuts if they are in larger pieces (esp if you are using walnuts).
  2. Add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and run on high for one to two minutes until everything is incorporated.
  3. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Add to any pasta, sandwich, pizza, protein, fav food and ENJOY!! 🙂

[Twists]

  • All basil or all spinach pesto with this recipe is also deeeeelicious! Traditional pesto is just basil but spinach adds a little something-something and it’s also a way cheaper substitute AND I feel like I’m eating more veggies hohoho
  • Instead of raw garlic, try using roasted garlic instead!
  • Kick it up a notch and add some cream to your sauce to make it a pesto-alfredo sauce

[Foodie] Beer-Braised Pork Belly Tacos

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Happy Two Thousand Fourteen friends!

Can’t believe it’s already the start of a brand new year – full of anticipation, impending adventures, unforeseen challenges, and of course, a roller coaster of excitement!

Per usual Christine Juang fashion, I was thinking about all the possible things to come this year and all the things I want to accomplish and… I started freaking out. How do I cram all these plans into ONE year? Can I even do them? I thought I would have more time before I had to start thinking about that….goodness gracious. Am I pushing myself hard enough to be the best me possible? I don’t even want to think about new year resolutions…. How am I even bringing God the most glory in any of this? Am I being diligent with what God has given me? What is he going to think I can handle in 2014??? [This is seriously my thought process in the span of maybe 30 seconds.]

And then of course – God calms all my worries and anxieties with 5 simple verses.

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:30-34

Be still my soul, and do not worry, for the Lord your God has all things in his hands.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Ok so. First recipe of the year – Pork Belly Tacos!!!!!

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I’ve realized that I love pork belly. Why? Because it feels like I’m eating fancy bacon. And who doesn’t love bacon?!?!!? Gosh I would put bacon in everything if I could. But yes. Pork Belly Tacos, let’s get to it!

I literally had no clue how to make my pork belly tacos as mouth watering and juicy as possible so I search the internet seas for inspiration and references, added my own kick and ta-da! Yum 🙂 I already want to make them again!!!

[Please skip to the bottom for a full recipe and directions!]

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Unfortunately if you’re not a patient cooker, this might be a little painful for you. It definitely was for me. You’ll need at least 2.5 hours of prep/cook time, which sounds a little crazy for about 2.5 minutes of eating time BUT I promise it’s worth it. To make this meat as yummy as possible, we’re going to braise them or more simply, slow-cook them, first on the stove and then in the oven.

Oh gosh what to do while you wait for TWO HOURS??

Knowing that I was about to get my grub on, I….

  1. Went for a 1.5 mile run (ugh I know I’m weak sauce.)
  2. Did all the dishes.
  3. Put away ALL my laundry (you don’t understand what a feat this is)
  4. Watched an episode of Project Runway

Not too bad! Even though I opened the oven to “check” on it in anticipation more times than I should have, they looked and smelled like perfection when I finally took them out. I couldn’t help but sneak one or two to uhhh…”check” on if they were really ready 🙂 They were.

And BAM! The pork belly was ready for PHASE TWO! Throw that pork belly onto a hot pan along with some olive oil and the braised juices from the pork until it’s nice and crisp (I always like mine a little on the crispier side!) and finally you’re done!!!!!

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Putting together a taco really is like making a masterpiece and mine always includes guacamole, onions, cilantro and in this case, some grilled peppers. And finally getting to eat this pork belly taco was well worth the wait. 🙂

What a way to end the week and to start the year! Hope you all had a great first week of the year, too!

Happy eating!

~Juang

Pork Belly Tacos

INGREDIENTS

  • One Pound of Pork Belly, Cubed
  • One Teaspoon of Chili Powder (adjust for spiciness)
  • One and One Half Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • One Teaspoon of Salt
  • One Eighth Cup of Brown Sugar
  • Two Chipotle Peppers [Optional for more of a kick]
  • One Mexican Beer [or any Brown Ale]
  • One Cup of Yellow Onion, diced
  • Three Tablespoons of Olive Oil (One for Chipotle Peppers, Two for Searing)
  • Grilled Red and Green Bell Peppers  [Optional]
  • Diced Onions and Cilantro [For toppings]

DIRECTIONS

  1. Season the pork belly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Let it marinade for 10-20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  3. In a blender, liquefy the chipotle pepper with one tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Get a large skillet nice and hot. You’ll want to give the pork belly some room on the pan so if you have a smaller pan, try cooking the pork belly in batches.
  5. Cook the pork belly in the skillet with each piece facing down, about 3 minutes on each side.
  6. Once the meat is nice and browned, transfer the pork belly to a oven-safe dish.
  7. Pour in Mexican beer until meat is just covered. Mix in chipotle mixture, chili powder, brown sugar, and diced onions. Let it braise in the oven for two hours.
  8. Once the meat is done, take it out of the oven and heat it up on a skillet with olive oil and remaining juices from the braised pork until desired crispiness!
  9. Serve with any fillings you’d like – onions, cilantro, peppers, guacamole, etc. Enjoy!!

[Note] If you don’t want to cook with alcohol, that’s totally fine (cooking is the only time I touch that stuff) because there are plenty of substitutes. Instead, try beef stock and one-fourth cup of brown sugar or one cup vinegar and one cup orange juice.