Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

Ever since I made my first layer cake, I always get so excited by the idea of stacking cakes and making beautiful creations like this one. I’ve always loved more fruit-y cakes, and this one TOTALLY hits the spot. Lemon and blueberries are such a perfect pair, and this is probably the best cake I’ve ever made by far. I’m not exaggerating. It’s a moist lemon cake bursting with fresh blueberries, complete with freshly made lemon curd that’s tangy yet just the right sweetness. The secret to the cake? Lemon creme Greek yogurt. I decided to substitute Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and it just seems that every time I use Greek yogurt in my baking, I come up with something magical. Enjoy!


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Matcha Blondie Bars

Of all my favorite things in the world, I would probably list green tea somewhere near the very top of that list. A couple of weeks ago, one of my lovely roommates (also my baking partner here at college) sent me a photo of a recipe titled “green tea frappucino bars”. I think I might have already talked about my green tea obsession with my Matcha White Chocolate Chip Cookies, but in the case that you didn’t know how much I love green tea, I’ll tell you again just how much green tea rocks my world.

Telling me that my favorite Starbucks drink can be infused into a literal dessert bar is something that makes my entire day. I will almost always order green tea ice cream or gelato at every ice cream shop, without fail. Having my roommate bring me back green tea flavored desserts from Japan makes my heart melt with joy. Also thought I would like to mention that in a request for some matcha powder from Japan, my roommate’s grandma decided to drive 40 minutes to get me some high-quality matcha powder. Bless her beautiful, sweet heart. I’m so in love.

And here, my friends, is one of the best desserts I have ever tried. Make it, enjoy it, and fall in love.


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Strawberry Layer Cake with Lemon Whipped Cream

There’s just something so intriguing about baking layer cakes. I decided to take on the challenge of making a layer cake for my best friend’s birthday, and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out! In terms of decorating, I probably have a long way to go before perfecting the cake to be a bit more aesthetically pleasing, but we’ll work on that…

Anyways, for this cake, I decided to add in a little hint of lemon alongside the sweet, ripe strawberries that flavor this cake. There’s a fresh strawberry puree, with fresh strawberries hidden away in the middle layer of this cake and on top of this cake too. I also decided to add in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to give the frosting a tangy flavor to offset the sweetness from the cake. Ok, enough talking, and more baking. Hope you enjoy!


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Mandang Umaga!

Hello from the Philippines!! It’s been a while since I’ve given some updates, but I’m happy to report that all is well with all of the CHE’s we’ve been able to go on. So far we’ve been to two different schools in Capiz and I just got back from another site earlier today. Roxas City has treated us so well and I thought I would share some of the highlights of my time here:

We went on a helicopter ride over the coast of Roxas and around the city in a Navy helicopter and it was probably one of the most exhilarating and exciting moments I’ve been able to experience since coming here. Roxas City is just so beautiful and here’s some proof:

(Photo c/o M. Baldwin)


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Meet Fresh

So somehow one of the most memorable desserts I had when visiting Taiwan a couple of years ago managed to magically make its way over to me all the way here in America. More specifically, it landed itself right in Orange County. I mean, this is practically godsent. This dessert brings back so many pleasant memories of Taiwan– walking  eating my way through the bustling night markets of Taiwan with my cousins, stopping to take pictures of the night life, trying to bargain, and playing games with my cousins. This dessert is also one of the recipes my aunt would used to always make out of scratch and she would be sure to make for me when she came to visit us in America.

This, my friends, is the 芋圓和地瓜圓 (taro balls and sweet potato balls) , with a delicious side of 愛玉 (ai yu jelly),仙草 (grass jelly), coconut jelly and 黑珍珠 (tapioca pearls). It doesn’t get more “QQ” than this. Oh, and there’s shaved ice in the center with some type of creamer that you just drizzle all over. Sweet, refreshing, satisfying, and every bite is just so special with all the ingredients that come in this bowl.

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In the Pacific

There is nothing quite like being aboard a Navy hospital ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the vast blue stretching endlessly around you for miles and miles. It’s an incredibly powerful and provoking feeling to see that it’s just you and the ocean around you on all sides. I stepped outside and was just flooded with an overpowering sense of tranquility because it’s unreal just how beautiful the ocean can be. It’s incredibly calm and the clear sky fades slowly into the horizon, meeting the waters and forming gorgeous ombre blues. The point where sky meets sea is indistinguishable and it leaves you wonderstruck. Just the other day I stepped out onto the deck and saw the most serene waters I have ever seen in my entire life, with no winds or waves and it just looked like a blanket of silk. Never before have I seen the ocean that calm and it was probably one of the most incredible feelings ever to be able to experience the ocean like that in such serenity. I wish my words could do it justice, but truthfully my words or pictures will never be able to fully capture just how picturesque the sea is. Or how it’s capable of making you feel so serene, so small, so humbled, and yet so at peace. It’s just a crazy feeling. I don’t know how to describe it—sometimes it just feels so unreal that I’m here.


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CHE in Papua New Guinea

Thinking about it now, it’s quite incredible that I’m able to be sitting here in the lounge of the USNS Mercy after a long week of CHE’s in the field doing extractions in Bouganville, Papua New Guinea. Never would I have imagined that this would be able to become a reality to be doing what I’m doing and to be able to experience such unique opportunities. I’ve always wanted to go on humanitarian trips to pursue my love for both travelling and community service, and everything I’ve been able to do thus far during my time with Pacific Partnership has really fulfilled that desire.


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