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Almond Green Tea White Chocolate Bars

Check out this sweet screen shot.  You see that awesome muffin photo?  Yeah, I took that.  And now it’s on a website that doesn’t belong to me.  Living the dream.  (Oh, and thanks KA!)

Yesterday Luke called me from work to tell me his boss had just brought in some parsley for our little Izzy.  Goodness knows that rabbit would eat her weight in parsley everyday if she could.

I told him to keep it in the work fridge then bring it home with him.  Upon his arrival at the apartment, he promptly dropped a supermarket sized paper bag in my lap.  It was half full of parsley.  Packed parsley.  Oh my, the rabbit will feast well.  Even though I had just fed her, we gave her some anyway.  Seeing her chomp on a big sprig of parsley is just about the most adorable thing ever.

Watching me eat these bars, however, is not so adorable.  Like Izzy, I’d very much like to eat my weight in these bars…if I could figure out how many times I’d have to make the recipe to accomplish that.

Or maybe I’ll just make them over and over and over. This is the second time I’ve made them, and I swear they taste better this time around.  Green tea, almonds and white chocolate is one of those interesting, but amazing combos.

The flavors are distinct, yet complimentary, and meld together in your mouth like nothing else.  I’m definitely going to try playing around with these flavors more in the future.

Almond Green Tea White Chocolate Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE ALMOND BATTER:
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • FOR THE GREEN TEA BATTER:
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp matcha (green tea) powder
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp almond extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang and grease.
  2. Whisk together flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and extracts; mix until combined. Add flour mixture, and mix carefully, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Fold in white chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, granulated sugar, butter, flour, green tea powder, egg, and extract until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour half of the almond batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Spoon ¾ of matcha mixture on top, and spread evenly. Pour remaining batter on top and spread slightly. Top with dollops of remaining matcha batter, about 1 inch apart. Run a knife through layers to create a swirl pattern.
  6. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 45-55 minutes. Cool bars in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, lift bars from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.
Notes
Makes one 8x8" pan, about 12 servings.

Adapted from Hungry Rabbit 

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Chicken Tikka Masala

For the last two months or so, Luke and I have been house hunting.  It’s been a loooong process, full of ups and downs.  But thankfully, it’s all up from here.  Oh yeah, we got a house.

And it’s a great house.  Of course one of my requirements for our house is a (somewhat) spacious kitchen with a good layout.  As we saw more and more houses, I was starting to think we’d have to settle for one with a so-so kitchen, but not this time.  The kitchen has an island!

Sorry, I get excited about things like that.  The current owners have a hanging pot rack too, and I think it looks just swell.

The closing date isn’t until June 30th, so we’re not going anywhere for a little while, but it’s still so exciting.  Between the move and the wedding, July and August are going to be busy!

Ok, on to the food.  KA and I made this while she was visiting and it was great.  I love Indian food, though I have to be careful eating it due to my extreme heat intolerance, so it’s nice to make it at home where I have control.  The sauce was well-spiced and flavorful, but not overwhelming.  I could have bathed in it….well maybe not.  Probably would have stained me red.  Serve it with rice and naan, and you’ve got yourself a great meal!

Chicken Tikka Masala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CHICKEN:
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I forgot to add this, and it still turned out great)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. To prep the chicken: Mix the cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken. Put the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. Whisk the yogurt, vegetable oil, garlic and ginger together in a wide bowl. You'll use this to coat the chicken later before cooking - set aside for now.
  2. To make the sauce: Add the oil into a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste and garam masala. Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring almost constantly.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt then bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat the sauce to a simmer and cover the pan. Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the heavy cream, stir to combine and bring the sauce back to a simmer (uncovered). Take the pan off of the heat and cover to keep warm.
  4. To cook the chicken: Position an oven rack about 6 inches from your broiler and preheat the broiler. Set a wire rack inside of a foil-lined baking sheet. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dip each piece in the yogurt mixture. You want a relatively thick layer coating the chicken. Transfer the chicken to the wire rack. Broil the chicken until it is cooked through (to an internal temperature of 160 F), about 10-18 minutes, flipping the chicken over halfway through the cooking time. (The cooking time will depend in large part on the thickness of your chicken pieces.)
  5. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, then cut it into 1-inch pieces and add to the warm sauce. Add the parsley to the sauce as well and season to taste before serving. Serve over rice with naan.

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

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Nutella Cheesecake Pumpkin Muffins

It’s been kind of hot in MA the last few days.  And I am not a summer person.  Especially not in an apartment without air conditioning.

The only up side is I get to see a lot of this.

Izzy is lying down on her side and belly more often to cool off.  There’s nothing to make me forget that my bare legs are sticking together than a little black bunny flopping over and spreading out on her little paws.

Luckily, or not so luckily, the heat streak is ending today.  I’m happy about it.  As cute as Izzy is, I’d rather not start sweating while kneading bagel dough or checking on roasted potatoes.

Or making muffins.  I loooooove muffins.  I love them even more when they have a secret filling.

And if that secret filling involves nutella, I’ll eat so many I won’t care about that huge blister on my big toe I got from walking too far in flip flops.  Damn hot weather shoes.

But muffins make it all better.  I know it’s not pumpkin season, but these guys are delicious any time of year.

Nutella Cheesecake Pumpkin Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE MUFFINS:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • 1½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • 1 large egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add in sugar, pumpkin and oil and beat thoroughly. Add in remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
  2. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, Nutella and egg until smooth.
  3. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or place liners in the cups. Place about 2 tablespoons of pumpkin batter into each liner, then 1 tablespoon of Nutella batter, then top with 2 more tablespoons of pumpkin batter. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Remove from muffin tin and enjoy!
Notes
Makes about 20 muffins

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

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Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

I’ve talked about my strange milk habits before.  Well, I don’t think they’re very strange, it’s just that I don’t like drinking milk, so whenever I buy it, which is pretty much every week, I have to figure out how to use it up.

Because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s letting food go to waste.  Pancakes and other skillet fodder are usually my go-tos for using up milk, but one time, I made a big mistake when buying milk.

I forgot what month it was, and instead of buying milk I thought would last for two weeks, I bought some that expired in two days.  I’m sooo smart sometimes.

Thankfully I only buy quarts at a time, so I had four cups of milk to work with.  Of course, my first thought was pudding.  Browsing through my recipe cache, I decided this one was definitely worth a try.

I had never made rice pudding before, but I’m always up for trying new things.  I didn’t have Arborio rice, so I substituted short grain sushi rice.  You need to use short grain or Arborio in rice pudding so the rice maintains its shape and doesn’t turn into mush in the cooking process.

I loved the spices in the pudding too.  It tastes like sweet, custardy chai tea.  Deliciousness all over.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup arborio (short grain) rice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp lemon zest
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • one 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp allspice
Instructions
  1. Soak the rice, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and cloves in the water in a tall, heavy saucepan for 1 hour.
  2. After soaking, remove cloves and cinnamon sticks and bring the rice to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.
  3. While rice is cooking, beat the egg in a bowl. Add the milk and stir well to mix. Add the egg mixture, condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract and spices to the rice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, about 25 to 35 minutes.
  4. The grains should be coming to the surface of the pudding and you'll feel some resistance when you stir. Several cups of liquid will have evaporated. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes--it will thicken considerably once taken off the heat. Pour into ramekins or mason jars and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes 8-10 servings, depending on container size

Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes

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Shrimp Scampi

Monday, oh Monday.  How quickly you sneak around the corner and leer at me.  I’ve seen a posting fad on other blogs that make Monday more interesting, it’s called Meatless Mondays.

Bloggers try to cook tasty, easy meals without the use of meat at least one day a week.  Seems simple enough, and I would totally do it…if the man of the house would eat any sort of meat alternatives.  I’m not exactly a lover of tofu or tempeh myself, but I’d eat them.

I love beans and lentils and other foods like that, but trying to sneak a chickpea past Luke would be difficult.  So I don’t try.  I fantasize about all the awesome lentil recipes I’ll make one day with my legume loving children, but until that day, I’ll be making my dishes with meat.

Or shrimp.  Another fun fact: Luke loves shellfish but hates fish, and I love fish but hate shellfish.  The only overlap in our venn diagram is shrimp.  I do like shrimp, but only if it’s cooked.  I don’t do shrimp cocktail…cold shrimp creeps me out.

And shrimp scampi is just so good.  I like this version because it is light and lemony, while still maintaining a good balance of garlic and shrimp flavors.  Plus it’s easy to prepare and is on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Shrimp Scampi
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 12 oz linguine (or any other pasta really)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • zest of half a lemon
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Boil a large pot of salted water, add the linguine and cook according to the directions on the package.
  2. Meanwhile, in another large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep the garlic from burning. Add the shrimp, salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss to combine.
  3. When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

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Peanut Butter Cheesecake Semifreddo

No one wants to slave over a hot oven when the weather’s lovely and the birds are chirping.  I mean, sometimes it’s unavoidable and luckily for me our apartment doesn’t get much sunlight so it tends to be cooler than hotter.  Still, no bake desserts are great and can really come in handy.

This dessert is one hell of a doozy, and I don’t say that lightly.  I had never made a semifreddo before, which means “half frozen,” so the dessert is kind of like an ice cream cake.

An ice cream cake with a sweet oat crust and peanut crust, peanut butter cheesecake layer and swirled with hot fudge sauce.

Yeah.  You can wipe the drool off your keyboard now.  This is a pretty involved recipe, so make sure you have the time it requires, including time in the freezer to set.

But trust me, the result is incredibly worthwhile and will impress anyone you serve it to.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Semifreddo
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ cup unsalted peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • FOR THE SEMIFREDDO:
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • FOR THE FUDGE SAUCE:
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. To make the crust, spread oats in an even layer in a large deep skillet over medium-low heat and toast until very lightly golden and it smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Shake the pan frequently to prevent burning. Transfer oats to the bowl of a food processor and set aside.
  2. Place peanuts in the same frying pan and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking the pan frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer peanuts to the bowl of the food processor with the oats and pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and stir in the brown sugar. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt together butter and peanut butter until smooth. Pour this over the oat mixture and stir it in until evenly combined. Use your fingertips to blend it together so that the oats are evenly coated with the butter mixture. Pour it into an 8x8” glass baking dish and press it evenly into the bottom. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.
  3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs and two-thirds of the sugar until blended. Place the bowl over a pot with ½ inch of simmering water and whisk vigorously non-stop until thickened and frothy. The mixture should register at least 162 degrees F on an instant read thermometer to safely cook the eggs. Remove bowl from over the simmering water. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture until cool, thick and doubled in volume, about 6 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with remaining sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in peanut butter, vanilla, and salt until well incorporated. Gradually add the chilled egg mixture in two parts until smooth. Beat until light and fluffy. It should resemble softly whipped cream. Refrigerate this mixture for 20 minutes.
  5. When ready, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks using a hand mixer on medium speed. Add the cream all at once to the bowl with the cream cheese mixture and fold it in very gently using a wide rubber spatula until evenly combined. Pour it over the crust in the glass dish and spread it out evenly. Spoon room temperature hot fudge sauce randomly over the surface (you will only need about half the recipe) and use a butter knife to swirl it in. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 4 hours or overnight. Transfer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving and cut with a hot dry knife. Store leftovers in the freezer.
  6. To make the fudge sauce: In a 1-quart heavy bottomed saucepan, combine cream, water, corn syrup, brown sugar and salt over medium low heat. Bring it to a simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chopped chocolate. Let the mixture stand, undisturbed, for 2 minutes and then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
  7. Return pan to the stove and bring the chocolate sauce to a gentle boil over medium low heat, stirring constantly. When it reduces to a boil, continue to cook for 3 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly and get to the bottom edges of the pan as the chocolate can burn easily. The mixture will be thick and luscious.
  8. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Let cool about 15 minutes. Store leftovers in a mason jar in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in a hot water bath for reuse. I stirred the leftover sauce into an ice cream recipe.
Notes
Makes one 8x8" pan, about 8 servings

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

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Carrot Cake Pancakes

It’s Saturday!  That means breakfast doesn’t have to be portable today.  It can actually be served on a plate with a fork.

Although I do absolutely confess to eating pancakes with my hands.  I do it all the time in fact.  Now that I think about it, I eat them without a plate either…oh well, I never claimed to be normal.

It seems like spring has finally taken hold for realz this time in New England.  Showers and thunderstorms descend randomly, and it’s warm enough that we’ve shut off our furnace.  Which makes us very happy considering how old and inefficient that darn thing is.

So carrot cake pancakes.  They’re like cake for breakfast, but healthier.  Carrot cake seems springy to me, though I’m not entirely sure why.  It’s not like you can’t buy carrots during the winter.

That little dollop on top is not butter, but creamed honey from Trader Joe’s.

Anyway, if you love carrot cake, you’ll love these pancakes.  They are wonderfully moist and fluffy, and obviously, taste just like carrot cake.  So much win I can’t even stand it.

Carrot Cake Pancakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • generous pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir in the carrots.
  2. Pour the buttermilk mixture, all at once, into the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Grease a large skillet or griddle and set over medium-low heat. Spoon about ¼ cup of batter for each pancake onto the hot pan and cook, flipping once, until the pancakes are golden on both sides, about 2 mins per side. Transfer to a large plate and serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
Notes
Makes about 12 pancakes

Adapted from The Joy the Baker Cookbook

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Char Siu Bao

This is a post I’ve been waiting for, since the very inception of Bashful Bao.  I finally made my own bao!!!!  And they were delicious.

Bao 包 means bundle or package in Chinese, and what marvelous little bundles bao are indeed.  I don’t remember this first time I ever ate bao, but I do remember the first time I ate the best bao ever, in Taiwan, of course.

There was a little stand near a night market that sold all kinds of bao and mantou.  Mantou are like bao, only they have no filling and are just bread buns.  I would buy like a dozen, while my apartment-mates watched me quizzically, and ate them for practically every meal in the following days.

I buy frozen pre-made bao from Asian supermarkets for Luke, though I rarely eat them myself.  I guess I’m just a bao snob like that.

These bao are made with a cooked pork filling, and I like that the dough is a bit crustier.  Many bao doughs are soft and squishy, which doesn’t provide for much texture, so I appreciate a crispier crust.  You can make the filling a day in advance too, which makes things easier, since this recipe is a little lengthy.  If you’ve never made you own bao, or eaten it before, I cannot implore you enough to try it.  It’s one of my all time favorite real Chinese foods.

Char Siu Bao
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PORK:
  • 1 lb boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 big clove garlic, sliced
  • 1½ Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp five spice powder
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp sesame oil
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
  • ½ pound Char Siu Pork, diced
  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1½ Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
  • FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 10 Tbsp whole milk
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) butter
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2½ Tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2½ Tbsp sugar
  • 12½ oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp honey mixed with 1 Tbsp warm water
Instructions
  1. Cut the pork into strips that are 1½” thick.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl large enough to fit the pork. Remove ⅓ of the marinade to a small bowl and store in the fridge. This will be used later on for basting the pork as it roasts. Toss the pork in with the rest of the marinade to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, turning the pork 2-3 times.
  3. Remove the pork and reserved marinade from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a roasting tack on top, or use a roasting pan. Put the pork on the rack, leaving an inch between the pieces for heat circulation. Discard the used marinade.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes, basting both sides of the pork with the marinade every 10 minutes. Flip the pieces over at every interval. The pork is done when it is glazed and slightly charred. Remove from the oven. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before using.
  5. To make the flavoring sauce, combine the sugar, salt, white pepper, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and set aside.
  6. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, or until aromatic and slightly softened. Add the pork and combine well. Add the flavoring sauce and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, or until the pork is heated through. Meanwhile, add the rice wine to the dissolved cornstarch. When the pork is hot enough, add the wine and cornstarch mixture. Cook for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together into a mass that you can mound. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool completely before using. (The filling can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before using.)
  7. For the dough, melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, or until warm (about 110°F).
  8. Put the yeast in small bowl, add the water, and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Whisk in the milk mixture and the egg to blend.
  9. Combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon to work in all the flour. (Add water by the teaspoon if this doesn’t happen with relative ease.) Keep stirring as a ragged, soft mass forms. Then use your fingers to gather and pat the dough into a ball. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth, fingertip soft, and slightly elastic. (You should not need any additional flour on the work surface if the dough was properly made. Keep kneading and after the first minute or two, the dough should not stick to your fingers. If it does, work in a sprinkling of flour.) Press your finger into the dough; it should spring back, with a faint indentation remaining.
  10. Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled.
  11. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper before beginning to assemble the buns.
  12. Remove the dough from the bowl and put on a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times, then roll it out into a 12-inch log, and then cut it into 8 or 16 pieces for medium or small buns, respectively. The tapered end pieces should be cut a little longer than the rest. Lightly roll each piece between your hands into a ball and then flatten each one into a ¼-inch-thick disk. Use a rolling pin to roll the pieces into circles, about 2½ inches in diameter for small or 3¼ inches in diameter for medium buns. The rim should be thinner than the center. The finished circle will rise as it sits. Lay the finished circles out on your work surface, lightly dusting their bottoms with flour if you fear they will stick.
  13. To form a bun, hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand. Use a spoon or fork to center about 2 teaspoons of filling for small buns, or about 4 teaspoons of filling for medium ones, on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about ½ to ¾ inch of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly. Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling while the other hand pulls up the dough edge and pleats and pinches the rim together to form a closed satchel. Pinch and twist the dough closed at the end. Place the bun pleat side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough circles, spacing them 1½ inches apart on the baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft- free place for 30 minutes to rise. Meanwhile, work on the other dough half to form more buns.
  14. About 10 minutes before the rising time is over, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  15. Bake one baking sheet at a time, brushing the top and side of each bun with the egg right before baking. Bake small buns for about 14 minutes and medium buns for about 18 minutes, or until a rich golden brown; the cooked buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove them from the oven, set on a rack, and let cool for 5 minutes.
  16. Brush the honey mixture on the buns for a sweet-glaze finish that will also soften the crust. Refrigerate leftover buns for up to a week and reheat at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until hot. When making the buns in advance, wait to brush on the glaze until after you’ve reheated the buns. These buns may also be frozen for up to a month. Thaw them completely before reheating.
Notes
Makes about 12 medium buns

Adapted from Amy Bites

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Roasted Banana Ricotta Scones

I enjoy scones very much.  Bananas too.  Especially when they’re roasted.

Since neither Luke nor myself drinks milk, I tend to buy it a quart at a time.  Sometimes I use it quickly, other times not so quickly, and when it’s all used up and I can’t make muffins or pancakes, scones are my go-to breakfast.

Though I might have planned to make scones anyway and intentionally used the milk in other things.  Yes…I plan out how I use milk.  Is that weird?

Sometimes I forget what month it is and accidentally buy milk that expires in 3 days.  An entire fridge shelf devoted to pudding usually ensues. Luckily, this was not one of those weeks (or unluckily).

These scones are more like sweet drop biscuits that traditional scones, since you spoon out the batter instead of forming a dough and cutting rounds or triangles from it.

They are softer than traditional scones too, somewhere between scone and muffin, and I liked it.  I didn’t like that the glaze was wayyy too thick.  It was like sweeter peanut butter, so I opted to eat it with a spoon rather than spread it on the scones, except for the one in the pictures.  If you make it, I would suggest adding milk a little at a time until it thins to your desired consistency.

Roasted Banana Ricotta Scones
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SCONES:
  • 3 medium bananas, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • milk as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bananas in a medium baking dish. Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bubbly and caramelized. Let cool.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or line with silicone mats. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and light brown sugar. Cut in the butter, using your fingertips or pastry cutter, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat together 2 eggs, the ricotta cheese, and the roasted bananas until mixed. The mixture will be lumpy. Add banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined
  4. Drop dough into 12 equal mounds on baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Brush tops with the beaten egg. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. About 5 minutes before scones come out of the oven, make the glaze. Place the peanut butter and butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add milk gradually and stir until the glaze thins out.
  6. When scones come out of oven, place them on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Drizzle with the glaze and serve.
Notes
Makes about 12 scones

Adapted from Mississippi Kitchen

DSC_1541

Baked Cheddar Perogis

Luke and I have been doing research on universities in Massachusetts.  Turns out, if I want to get my Masters in the same discipline as my undergrad work, I have only two options.  In the whooooole state.

And yes, one of them is Harvard.  Ohhhhh boy….so really only one option, but a girl can dream.

I also registered for the GRE.  How I hate standardized tests, but we do what we must.

And I must share these perogis with you.  I can’t remember eating perogis before I made these, so I don’t have much basis for comparison, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The filling is made of mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese, and it’s encased in a simple dough then baked to golden perfection.  You could also pan fry them, but I was looking for a little less grease, while still maintaining a crispy shell.

And no, I didn’t forget: here’s your Hop Day with Izzy pic!  Happy Wednesday!

Nom nom nom.

Baked Cheddar Perogis
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1½ cup grated cheddar
  • chives and/or parlsey, finely chopped (I used scallions)
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. For the dough: Mix everything together with your hands or a mixer until you have a smooth dough. If needed, you can loosen it up with up to ¼ cup of cold water.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling: Boil the potatoes until thoroughly cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Strain them and let stand for 5 minutes to let the extra moisture out.
  4. Mash and add the cheddar, herbs and salt.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the dough to about ⅛″ thick. With a glass or dough cutter, cut out 3″ circles, saving the trimings. Put about ½ tablespoon of filling in the middle of each.
  6. Dip your finger in water and pass it around the edges so the dough will stick together nicely. Close the perogis making sure they are completely sealed. You can crimp the edges with a fork to ensure this.
  7. Set them aside on a pan. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough, re-rolling as needed.
  8. At this point you can put them in a bag with a dash of flour and freeze them.
  9. Put the perogis on a lined or greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then serve with desired condiments.
Notes
Makes about 20 perogis

Adapted from The Bite House

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