Fried is the New Fun

Who ever thought that making funnel cakes at home would actually be easy? Edit: APPLE CIDER funnel cakes. Quite a fall treat.

When I moved into my apartment, I noticed my roommate had bought a red plastic funnel. And I remember wondering when we would actually use it. Well, the day came when K and I decided to experiment and make our carnival dreams a reality using this Dine & Dish recipe.

First hurdle: making a substitute for Allspice. We ground up cinnamon and cloves (didn’t have nutmeg unfortunately) which seemed to work.

Once you’ve got the batter ready and the oil heated comes the fun part: making your funnel cakes. Using the funnel / makeshift funnel, create cool shapes in the pan and flip with tongs. You can make several small cakes or one big one (note that bigger ones are harder to flip). We went all out and probably made over 20 (see the mountain of cakes below). The apple cider and cinnamon added a really nice touch, though the taste isn’t as strong as you’d expect it to be. It’s also recommended that you eat the funnel cakes soon after they’re done so that they’re still hot and don’t become soggy. Topping the cakes with ice cream is also the power move here.

Final tip: Don’t try substituting apple cider for anything else without seeing if it’s been done before…we tried that and let’s just say it didn’t come out so splendid.

This calls for a carnival party, right?

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The Belly Rules the Mind

It’s been a while…but I’m well, alive, and sharing with you my discovery of shishito peppers!

Sunday morning produce store trip with dad and he suddenly gets really excited about these oversized jalapeno-like peppers…

I watch him as he sautees these peppers for a pre-lunch snack and I’m skeptical – rightfully so, since my dad usually underestimates things like the time it’ll take to get somewhere or how spicy something is.

Well, I didn’t try the peppers that time but I decided to give it a go the next time we made them. And I was amazed. Once they blister, add salt and wait for them to cool before taking a bite. Sweet, but not too sweet, the perfect summertime snack.

Things I’ve since learned about the shisito pepper include:

  1. When allowed to fully ripen on the plant Shishitos will turn a vibrant red and their walls will be thicker fleshed.
  2. Originating in Japan the Shishito pepper is believed to have gotten its name from its tip end which to some resembles the head of a lion or in Japanese, shishi.
  3. They can apparently burst when being cooked so its advised to cut a small hole in each pepper beforehand (didn’t do that but am still fine?)
  4. Approximately 1 in 10 Shishito peppers are spicy, and there’s no way of knowing until you try it

Now I’ve got to find restaurants that serve this…

[On a totally different note, shoutout to my non-believer friend Kevin for the time he’s invested in trying to prove this blog isn’t mine. Sorry K, you might want to just give up now.]

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Going Bananas for Nutella…Again

Nutella is making an appearance once again – this time, along with bananas. Who doesn’t love a nutella banana combo?

I’m also seriously into eggless baking. With both the 3-Ingredient Nutella Cookies I made a couple weeks ago and these Decadent Banana Nutella Muffins, I’ve found that leaving out eggs makes the dish feel lighter (and less guilt-inducing, perhaps)!

My first time making muffins and I’ve got to say they were a hit! The recipe I link to above makes about 24 mini-muffins + 3 regular muffins – I tried this on a regular muffin tray and it came out to 16 muffins.

It’s also really up to you as to how you want to do the nutella. With my first batch of 12, I created a nutella swirl on top after pouring in the batter (also left out the nutella on some for a slightly healthier option). For the last 4 muffins, I actually mixed in the nutella with the batter – also came out well, but perhaps a less exciting photo since you miss the magical swirl. Roughly 17 minutes of bake time worked well for me.

A totally awesome recipe I’d recommend trying even if you’ve never made muffins before! And a great way to finally use up that extra Nutella you might have… 🙂

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And Above All, Think Chocolate – Betty Crocker

I know it’s not a Thursday so I’m going to refrain from using #TBT here… but I was Skyping one of my best friends today and remembered the time we made these delicious Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Kisses… talk about magical combo: chocolate AND cookies AND cream. Can you get much better than that?

Best part about making these cookies was definitely eating the kisses along the way, to the point where we were actually concerned we wouldn’t have enough left for the cookies. I know, we need to practice self-control.

We also baked the cookies for some time with the kisses pressed in, even though the recipe suggested to press them in afterwards. Still tasted amazing, so totally up to you!

And while we’re at it, here’s a quick history lesson on the origins of our favorite Cookies & Cream. It looks like nobody’s quite sure how the flavor was invented since there are a few different theories:

  1. John Harrison, the official taster for Dreyer’s/Edy’s Ice Cream, claims he invented it for the company in 1982
  2. Blue Bell Creameries claim they first produced the flavor in 1980 after an employee tasted it at a Houston ice cream parlor the year before
  3. South Dakota State University claims the flavor was invented at their Dairy Plant (I wish my school had a dairy plant…with free ice cream tastings…)
  4. Steve Herrell of Massachusetts’ Herrell’s Ice Cream also claims to have first invented the flavor

To whoever it may be, on behalf of all Cookies & Cream lovers, thank you for baking the world a better place.

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What do Nosy Peppers do? Get Jalapeno Business!

Except this post isn’t about jalapenos, sorry folks. It was just too cute not to share.

I am however bringing back a stuffed peppers recipe I used last year during the holidays. Perhaps you can also draw inspiration from this Buzzfeed Post: 19 Savory Stuffed Veggies to Make Before Summer Ends? 🙂

You can follow this recipe here for baking instructions. My simple filling consisted of couscous, grated carrots, onions, garlic, olive oil, curry powder, red chilies, and salt / pepper. In the future, I’d also consider adding feta, zucchini, squash, and cooked chickpeas. Aside from the great taste, I think stuffed vegetables also present the perfect picture ops…

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Avocontrol for Avocados

Promise this will be the last post about avocados for a while, but had to share this super easy dip with you all.

My friend and I wanted to have an avocado-themed day, so I hurry over to the grocery store to pick up some avocados. I get there, and as I’m picking them out, they all feel as hard as a rock…but I have hope. I call my friend and ask her what she thinks, and me being the inexperienced avocado enthusiast, I decide that everything will be fine if we use these avocados.

An hour later, we’re at home struggling to even make a dent in these avocados. Classic.

So begins a frantic Google search to find out how we can quickly ripen avocados. One source tells us to remove the skin of the avocados, cut into 4 pieces, and microwave in a covered bowl for 2 minutes with salt / pepper / lemon juice. Worth a shot (with much struggle and immense arm strength I must admit to remove the skin).

Well, it actually worked (texture became soft, though I’m not sure the taste exactly matches that of a ripe avocado)! Definitely a trick to keep in my back pocket if I ever get into a situation like this.

Combine avocado pieces, jalapenos, lime juice, olive oil and salt in a blender and you’ve got a great dip that isn’t guacamole (I mean, how tired are we of guac am I right). I wish I could give you proportions, but I’m a taste-as-you-go kind of person. Enjoy!

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What Do You Call Pancakes with Abs? Waffles!

I’m a sucker for all things brunch, especially waffles, and am currently daydreaming about Yolk Chicago’s “Healthy Start Waffle” pictured below. The combination of strawberries, Greek yogurt, granola, and the sweet and crunchy waffle doused in maple syrup is to die for.

Here are some creative DIY waffle recipes that I’m hoping to try soon (can also make as pancakes if you don’t have a waffle iron)!

  1. Zucchini-Parmesan Waffles
  2. Chocolate Brownie Waffles
  3. Strawberry Cheesecake Waffles
  4. Nutella Stuffed Waffles
  5. Vegan S’mores Waffles

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Money Can’t Buy Happiness… But it Can Buy Nutella… Which is Basically the Same Thing…

Opened our fridge today to look at what I could use when making dinner – tofu, spinach, other veggies…tofu stir fry am I right?

But for some reason I knew today wasn’t a tofu stir fry kind of day as soon as I saw the jar of Nutella in our pantry. Gosh, it looked so darn good and so ready to be eaten.

Thankfully, I came across this recipe for 3 Ingredient Eggless Nutella Cookies and knew that this was it. Super easy, quick, YUMMY, and seemingly healthier than using eggs (or so I tell myself).

The end product was amazing! Will definitely keep this recipe in my back pocket if I’m ever craving some cookies. S/o to my cousin for being an awesome baking buddy.

As far as actual dinner…well, I haven’t solved that problem yet.

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Every Pizza is a Personal Pizza if You Try Hard and Believe in Yourself

#TBT to the fabulous day when Grace and I made a vegetable pesto “gourmet” pizza. We were shopping at Trader Joe’s for ingredients and looking at the pizza dough options; I guess you can say we both wanted to appear healthy on the outside, so we picked up the whole wheat dough and were well on our way when we had one of those moments. We stopped walking, looked at each other, and started cracking up as we went back to swap the whole wheat dough for garlic herb – what we had both really wanted. The garlic herb dough was easily one of the best decisions we could have made, as it matched well with the pesto base we chose and was unbelievably delicious.

This Vegetable Pesto Pizza is a fun cooking adventure and not too difficult to make! First, chop up tomatoes, red bell peppers, and onions (broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and / or arugula would work well too). Sautee the onions and spinach lightly in olive oil so that the onions are browned and the spinach cooked.

Next, spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and start rolling out your dough on another flat surface. Make sure to use enough flour to avoid sticking. This part might take a while, but roll out the dough enough so that it conforms to the shape of the pan and is as thick or thin as you would prefer.

After your oven is heated, put the dough in for about half the recommended baking time. Take it out and then spread the pesto sauce evenly and generously across the entire crust. Layer the vegetables and mozzarella cheese (can also use ricotta, goat, feta) as you’d like and place back in the oven to finish baking.* Voila, you’ve got a killer pizza!

*You can also spread the sauce and layer the cheese / vegetables on the dough before putting in the oven to bake.

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