Hello all! It’s been a bit of time since I’ve been posting consistently and I fear that’s only going to get a bit worse. Oh well. I’ll figure this thing out eventually.
Anyways, happy holidays to all and to all a good night! Something like that, too, I suppose.
So in between baking, shopping, work, and preparing for travel, I’ve been going a bit crazy. Who’da thunk, huh? But I figured for this post, I wanted to work on something that reminds me of the holidays with a bit of a twist.
I always love pies, I mean, come on, who doesn’t? But I recently had the most amazing chocolate pie, compliments of my boyfriend’s mom. It was this rich, Hershey chocolate no-bake pie. And the recipe (I do believe!) can be found here.
I made a few changes. First, I used a regular milk chocolate Hershey’s bar and added about 10 extra Hershey kisses for more of the chocolate richness. I used mini marshmallows instead of large, and then I added cinnamon and vanilla for the flavor. Here’s my adaption!
1 8-ounce milk-chocolate Hershey’s bar & 10 hershey kisses
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp plus 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust
Over a double-boiler, heat the milk and marshmallows until they start to form a paste and the marshmallows get smaller.
Add in the chocolate and 1 1/2 tbsp of ground cinnamon and mix together thoroughly until fully melted in with no clumps.
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with the 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla extract until soft peaks form and it is thick.
Wait for the chocolate mixture to cool to at least room temperature and then fold in the cream mixture.
Pour into a pre-baked or ready-made pie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until it begins to solidify and voila! You’re done!
Who doesn’t love a nice, moist banana bread in the morning? Or even with a cup of tea at night? Just thinking about it makes me want to bake more. It’s been a few days since I’ve posted due to the holidays, but I wanted to share a little recipe I whipped up last week. I ended up making a little orange-infused banana nut bread before my lovely Thanksgiving trip visiting Taylor’s family (who are excellent cooks, by the way!)
This is partially totally inspired by my abundance of extremely overly ripe bananas and oranges just sitting around at my house. Oh, and because we’re approaching baking season (Hallelujah!!).
I hope you’ll enjoy and try out this take on the traditional banana-nut bread. It sure is a winner with my dad already. The cardamon is a really interesting flavor, but surprisingly works well with the cinnamon and orange. I hope you enjoy!
Ingredients for the bread:
1 3/4 cup flour
4 medium ripe bananas, mashed well
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamon
1 cup crushed walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest
For the glaze topping:
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: The mashed bananas, eggs, butter, orange juice, and zest.
In a larger bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: Flour, sugar, salt, cardamon, and baking soda.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well with a hand-mixer, about 5 minutes, until everything is smooth.
Fold in the chopped walnuts and then pour into a greased 8 1/2 X 4/12 pan. (This recipe will make one, exactly).
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes** or until a toothpick is removed clean.
For the glaze:
Melt butter and whisk together with orange juice. Add in sugar.
Next, whisk in the spices and cornstarch until mixture thickens, about a minute. Then you’re done!!
** Now, I was at my parents’ house with their ancient 1980’s oven, so it did not bake very quickly. I would test your oven and judge accordingly. I was anticipating 35-40 minutes, but I had to go longer than that.
I apologize for the low quality photos. It’s hard to achieve natural light, especially since it’s getting so dark out lately. I usually plan my food adventures on days where I know I’ll be getting a fair amount of time and natural light and this was just not one of those cases. Womp, womp.
In other news, I’m so excited to announce that one of my recipes, Merry Moscow Mules, was published in a Buzzed article recently! You can check it out here!
Yesterday, Taylor and I had gone to Pittsburgh’s 4th annual Harvest Tasting. What is the Harvest Tasting, you may ask? Well, let me tell you!
The Harvest Tasting is an event planned by Pittsburgh’s organization, Farm to Table. This even showcases the region’s farmers, artisans, and local wine, beer, and food vendors. You can check out their blog/website here for more info on the organization
The event was held at the Waterfront, a popular shopping and dining area for Pittsburghers and was held in a large tent that featured over nearly 50(!) vendors. I thought this was such a cool idea, not only for local foodies and artisans, but for families in the area and just people looking to get involved with healthy, fresh, farm to table eating. I just wanted to post and let others know for next year about this cool event and checking out the organization.
Taylor and I particularly enjoyed some of the craft beer samples, locally sourced honey, and my favorite, the cheese and olive oil samples. If you’re interested in checking out a list of this year’s vendors, you can view the link here. My favorites were definitely the cherry ale I tried, the cheese and jam combo from Goot Essa, the lovely wine sample from Enginehouse 25, and the basil olive oil from the Olive Tap. Every vendor deserves a warm thank you, however. I am not trying to undermine the effort that these artisans make and all of their treats were honestly delicious, and trust me: If I had the money, I certainly would have bought something from each vendor, either for myself or as a nice gift.
Although the event is over, I would highly recommend checking out some of the vendors’ websites or stores. Artisan foods and treats not only make the best holiday gifts, but it’s also warming to know that you are supporting local businesses. 🙂
Moscow mules are definitely making a comeback. And, I mean, why not?! They’re delicious! The subtle lime with the ginger and minty flavors is really refreshing, and I think ginger is seriously underrated. Just a little bit, and BAM. It makes for a really nice addition to simple flavors to add a ‘wow’ factor.
I wanted to try my hand at making my own, and when I was researching the traditional mule, I was surprised that there was no gin. Only vodka for these guys. Which again, I think says a lot for the ginger beer on its own. That said, I wanted to a get a little creative and put my own festive spin on it. The combination of cranberry and orange this time of year is absolutely perfect. You get a bright, citrus, tangy, and sweet combination and what better time to concoct this cranberry-orange ‘mule than right before Thanksgiving celebrations and parties? I mean, hello, it’s going to be wonderful. So here ya have it, folks.
Ingredients (for 2 Merry Moscow Mules)
3 ounces Vodka
8 ounces ginger beer
2 ounces simple syrup
3 ounces cranberry juice
3 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
Splash of lime juice
Orange slices, cranberries, & mint to garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients, shake gently, and pour over crushed ice into Moscow Mule mugs. Enjoy!
Spinach and artichoke dip is one of my newfound favorite pub/bar/restaurant snacks to order as an appetizer. I never really had a taste for the flavors together before, but as they say, your tastebuds change every so many years. I knew I wanted to make my own recipe for this dip, as usually when I follow recipes I’ve found online, the texture is usually too thick and creamy or too watery. I also was partially inspired by an appetizer I had gotten at an Irish pub in Myrtle Beach. Their spinach & artichoke dip had a hint of lemon which really added a nice pop. That’s how I came to create my own dip!
1 16-ounce can of quartered artichokes, drained and chopped
1 16-ounce bag of spinach
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened and cubed
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup mixed Italian shredded cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
Salt & pepper, to taste.
Drain the artichokes and chop to get smaller, bite-sized chunks.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the artichokes, garlic, and butter and sauté.
Add in the cream cheese, one cube at a time.
Add the mayonnaise, shredded cheese, and lemon juice and mix thoroughly for about 5-10 minutes.
Fold in spinach, one handful at a time and mix together with the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Keep stirring mixture until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve immediately in a medium-sized bowl.
Optional: You can also preheat the oven to 350 degrees, put the dip in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle a layer of cheese on top and bake until cheese forms a nice brown layer, about 10-15 minutes.
Recipe serves 8-10 people.
This dip is so lemony and good. It really packs a punch and gives the dip an added element, and I hope you’ll think so too!
So if you know me well, or are getting to know me by this blog, you’ll know (or find) that I love Asian food. Absolutely love it. I could eat Pan-Asian, Japanese, Korean, or Thai food everyday and (probably) not get sick of it. It’s something about the combination of sweet and spicy, yet tangy flavors that mesh so well and really inspire me.
Today, I wanted to take some time to create my own recipe for pork dumplings. In a Japanese culture class I took during my undergraduate career, we actually made some pork dumplings with our professor, but she brought the filling in ahead of time. I double-checked my pantry for the essentials: Soy, sesame seed oil, and rice wine vinegar (I swear, I’m always stocked with those ingredients), and I set sail for the Strip District with Kylie. For those who don’t know, the Strip District is Pittsburgh’s mecca for all ethnic ingredients and hosts two great Asian grocers. I did some research beforehand on steaming the dumplings versus boiling them. Since I do not have a bamboo steamer, and because I did not want to fry these little guys, boiling was my option. (More on this later.) As I was out, I gathered some other necessities for this dish and came up with this recipe, which I think you will love:
1 lb ground pork
4 1/2 cups chopped napa cabbage
2 tbsp chopped scallions
2 tsp shaved ginger
2 tsp garlic, finely minced
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package (25-30 count) of gyoza or dumpling wrappers
Small bowl of cold water
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork and napa cabbage. Add ginger, garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt. Start boiling a medium-sized pot with water.
Add egg and scallions and mix thoroughly, making sure all ingredients are blended.
On a clean, dry, cutting board or flat surface, place the gyoza wrapper, one at a time.
Using no more than a tablespoon (somewhere in between a teaspoon and a tablespoon works best) place the filling mixture in the very middle of the gyoza wrapper.
Wet your finger in the water bowl and trace the outer-most section of the gyoza wrapper. The water will act as a seal so that none of the inside gets out, so then gently fold the dumpling and make creases, ensuring that they are tightly sealed.
Carefully drop dumplings into the boiling pot of water for 5-7 minutes, or until they start floating.
Optional: You can also do what is referred to as a ‘hybrid’ method of cooking the dumplings, in which you let them boil for 5 minutes and then place them in a lightly oiled frying pan to brown the sides for another 5 minutes.
Ingredients for the dipping sauce:
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp plum sauce (found in most stores)
2 tbsp honey
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with the dumplings.