January 22, 2015

Cinnamon Crumb Banana Bread and Homemade Chai Tea

Guys,

I have to confess that I've been in a bit of a cooking and baking slump. I think it's the first one I've had yet. I still try a new recipe each time I get in the kitchen, and I still cook almost every night of the week, but I feel uninspired because I haven't stumbled upon many exciting recipes that ring true to my eating desires and passions upon completion.

With yesterday's post on enchiladas and churros that were BOMB, the previous day's post on delicious carbonara pasta, and today's post on the BEST BANANA BREAD recipe I've tried yet, it's safe to say that my slump is over. I'm on a new high! Yay, 2015! 

It's hard to describe this banana bread and do it justice. The crumb topping is delicious and not too sweet. Who doesn't like crumb topping? But the bread part is where I actually start to jump up and down. It's full of banana flavor, it's light and airy (almost like it has meringue in the batter) but dense and loaf-like at the same time. I loved it. Don't change a thing about! 


So I made homemade chai mix for my coworkers a few years back as a Christmas gift. I haven't even thought about doing it again since then even though I now have all the ingredients (bought all the whole spices in bulk) because it was so laborious to grind all the spices down. They don't have to be ground to a fine sand, but they do need to be token down into smaller bits and these spices (cardamom, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, whole peppercorns, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks!) are gnarly and do not want to be pulverized. 

Well, I did it again. And it was worth the effort. Just slightly ;) no, it definitely was. Homemade chai is delicious and full of...spice! When I drink chai at coffee shops it always taste so pleasant and milky but this chai mix will awaken your senses. It is truly delicious.


Banana bread and homemade chai tea. It made for the perfect afternoon tea time with friends.

PS If you live in Los Angeles and are looking for a fantastic Indian meal that's super affordable and want to buy Indian spices, go here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/india-sweets-and-spices-culver-city

January 20, 2015

Orrechiette Carbonara with Charred Brussels Sprouts

I remember the first carbonara recipe I tried. I was so excited to make it at home because it was one of our favorite dishes and memories from our honeymoon time in Rome. The sauce is so creamy yet light, and oh-so-simple with just a touch of salt and pepper and some fresh cheese grated on top.

Well, I didn't do proper research and that first recipe was not only inauthentic (relying on heavy cream for creaminess instead of egg yolks mixed into some hot pasta water) it was also disappointing. Tasted more like Alfredo, which is so heavy and tasteless! 

I made up for it! Four years later :) this recipe is easy and delicious, and I love the addition of charred Brussels sprouts. I doubled the amount of pancetta (and therefore fat, hmmm, maybe that's why it tasted so good!) just because I had a 4 oz package of it from Trader Joe's and didn't want to waste the other half. Plus, 2 oz just seems so little. 

This dish was just right. Goldilocks perfection. 

January 19, 2015

Enchiladas with Chile com Carne, Orange Margaritas, and Churros

I love planning a full meal spread. During the week, I usually just plan a new main dish to try, and that seems plenty challenging enough for a weeknight. But on the weekends, expect a brand new meal from start to finish!

One of the better ones recently was last night's. I made orange margaritas from Cupcakes and Cashmere (which tasted deceptively like fresh squeezed orange juice and made me more tipsy than I expected!), cheese enchiladas with chili con carne sauce from Homesick Texan, and fresh churros with chocolate dipping sauce from The Kitchn. It's safe to say it was an epic meal (also made homemade Caesar salad from Simply Recipes, my go-to salad).

Although these margaritas were good, I still prefer my go-to recipe from Ina Garten which has lemon, lime, triple sec, and tequila. It's tangy and strong but still easy to drink. These, on the other hand, just tasted like orange juice to me, not like a margarita.



I've tried a couple other enchilada sauce recipes from homesick Texan but this one is the best so far. Making your own sauce isn't that hard and it tastes SO good, so I encourage you to make it from scratch. These dried chilies are found in most grocery stores; I used New Mexico instead of ancho chilies as called for in the recipe. You roast them on the stove top until they puff up, boil them in water, and then you just let them sit in hot water to soften. After 30 minutes, throw the chilies into a blender and purée with softened onions and garlic and a medley of spices like cinnamon, allspice, chili powder, cumin, and more!! 

These are mmmmmmmmm mmmmmmarvelous!


Finally, these churros. I LOVE churros. Especially the doughy ones. And these are doughy thanks to the custard-like dough (which I let sit all through dinner, more then the 15-30 minutes, and it was totally fine). The first time I made it, I fried them and they were piping hot and amazing. The second time I tried baking them. Not the best texture and less flavor. So definitely fry them if you can. It's worth it!

The dipping sauce is silky smooth. Don't skip it because it makes the whole churro experience twice as amazing.

There you have it! The ingredients for a fantastic Sunday supper. Just add friends :)

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