>> Did you sign up for a tea swap penpal? Today is the last day to sign up <<

Oatmeal Cookies

I find it hard to believe that I haven’t posted about these Oatmeal Cookies yet. We make these cookies so often that I’ve almost memorized the recipe. I say almost because I don’t usually make these, my boyfriend does. He’s much more of a cookie/pie guy and not so much in to tarts and cupcakes.

This recipe is very flexible. The traditional recipe calls for 1 cup of raisins, but we usually sub them for more interesting ingredients. You could try other dried fruit, chocolate, peanut butter, or nuts. Our go-to is half peanut butter chips and half mini-chocolate chips.

These are best right out of the oven, but last several days if covered.

I accidentally forgot the “additional” 6 tablespoons butter mentioned in the recipe below– that’s almost half the butter and these cookies still tasted great! Because of the lack of extra butter, it did make 19 cookies instead of 24 (I was doing a half recipe).

Quadruple Strawberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes have four different types of strawberry in them - Strawberry Cake, Strawberry Lime Gin Compote Filling, Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, and a Chocolate-dipped Strawberry on top. Needless to say, my strawberry-allergic-sister got no where close to these. I made these cupcakes for a surprise baby shower that we threw for a co-worker. The cake was very moist, maybe even a little too moist, but I’ll attribute that to the liquid-y filling. I actually made these the night before and for once, a swiss meringue frosting turned out! Unfortunately, I chilled it overnight and it separated. No amount of beating or adding of powders could solidify it again. I took the remaining strawberry gin compote and tossed it a traditional cream cheese frosting which tasted just as good.

These cupcake liners are Martha Stewart. I splurged on a bunch of them because they were on sale at a local craft store. I wish I would have tried the liners before buying so many – these are not worth it! You would think that Martha Stewart products for the price would be good quality, but these liners are equal or less quality than grocery store brands for about 6x the cost! This is a light, yellow cake with a dark purple and white liner and you can barely see the pattern. *sigh* I might be able to salvage them by baking a pastel muffin liner inside them, but I don’t know if it’d be worth it.

 

Egg Salad & Carrot Cake Cupcake Bento

It’s been a while since a lunch post appeared!

Have you ever boiled a bunch of eggs and wondered what to do with them? Easter, Labor Day, and other holidays come to mind. This egg salad is a basic recipe that substitutes the celery for green peppers and is on pumpernickel/rye swirl bread . Going with the Easter theme (only 5 months late, right?), this lunch was packed in a Miffy sandwich box with a carrot cake cupcake, some edamame, and a fruit cup.

The cupcake packed above was from my “mother-in-law”. It’s a coincidence because I made a bunch of carrot cake cupcakes too! I stopped by a local cake supply store and got some sugar carrots as decoration, but other than that, this recipe is simple and timeless.

I used the extra batter to bake mini-cupcakes. I mixed a little green food coloring and some shaved coconut to make some “easter grass”, then decorated them with jelly beans for eggs. An ice cube tray was a perfect vessel for transport.

This past April I went to my parents’ for Easter. We had some Hawai’ian bread, sweet potatoes, ham, scalloped potatoes, bacon baked beans, and corn. I’m not religious, though my parents are a bit. They know I just come for the food ^_^ I tried to propose a lamb or rabbit for Easter dinner next year but that didn’t seem to fly. It was hard enough to get them to try a different turkey last Thanksgiving!

Tipsy Honu:

Drinks Using Gourmet Spices from Marx Foods

I was given some exotic ingredients from Marx Food and challenged to create a cocktail and mocktail recipe. I often make cocktails based on drinks I’ve had at local places or weird flavor profiles that I think up in my head. It’s easier to think of cocktail recipes because you set yourself down a path based on what spirit you choose to start with. It’s actually harder to make a non-alcoholic drink because the possibilities are endless and overwhelming. Sometimes you don’t want to have alcohol in your drink due to lifestyle, medication, age, or just to be family-friendly. In the end, our house liked the mocktail better because we could drink as much as we want and share it with everyone.

Update: The poll is now open! Feel free to see the other contestants & vote for your favorite!


Community Garden

Makes 1 drink. This drink is a mixture of herbs and vegetables you might find in your backyard garden. It’s very fresh with a slight savory note. Because it’s not too sweet, it stays light and you can taste all of the flavor layers. Saffron adds an exotic spice while the dill pollen sprinkled on top is the first thing you smell before sipping.

  • 1 ounce cucumber vodka
  • ½ ounce cointreau
  • ½ ounce RHUBY
  • 2 dashes celery bitters
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • 1 teaspoon yuzu juice
  • 1 pinch saffron leaves
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 1 dash dill pollen
  • cucumber slice for garnish
Muddle basil, saffron, and cucumber vodka. Add remaining ingredients except for dill pollen and club soda and shake until combined. Add to glass filled with two handfuls of ice. Top with club soda, stir. Sprinkle top with dill pollen and garnish with a cucumber slice.

Pacific Shrub

Makes 2 drinks. This drink is a more complex version of iced tea. This black tea from Hawai’i is spicy and has citrus notes and is inspired by the island’s volcanoes. It is brewed hot and then allowed to chill while being infused with dried pineapple and saffron. The club soda helps to keep this from getting too sweet and too muddled. Note: Bitters range in percentage of alcohol. Fee Brother’s has no alcohol % on its label so I am assuming they are alcohol-free.

Add tea leaves to hot water. Brew for 5 minutes and then strain tea leaves. Add to refrigerator-safe container and add saffron and dried pineapple. Refrigerate until cold (2 hours to overnight). Take two glasses, fill with two handfuls of ice, put half of the iced tea in each glass (½ cup), reserving the pineapple. Add ½ tablespoon of strawberry shrub to each glass, followed by ⅛ (2 tablespoons) of ginger drink and ⅛ cup club soda in each. Add 2 dashes of Fee Brother’s Aromatic Bitters to each glass and stir. Top each glass with a pinch of fennel pollen and a no-longer-dried pineapple wedge.

Vancouver Vacation

Hi everyone! Last month my boyfriend, Dan, and I took a trip to Vancouver and Seattle. It was both our first time to Canada and it was Dan’s first time using his passport and travelling outside of the country. Unfortunately, Canada doesn’t actually give you stamps in your passport so there’s no physical record in our passports we went, though I’m sure the little chip inside recorded it.

We spent a lot of time planning this trip, but still didn’t get to do all of the things we wanted to. No matter how much you plan, you’ll always stay a little longer at one place or take a little longer getting somewhere else. Though we plan a stiff itinerary, sometimes we like to throw the plan out the window and be spontaneous.

We didn’t have a car, so we were limited in where we could go, but all in all Vancouver was great and we loved the city. We were staying in Gastown, which was a cool area, but in-between Gastown and Chinatown is the infamous Main/Hastings intersection. Our trip lasted 4 days and we used AirBNB for the first time instead of a traditional hotel service. It was a great experience and I would recommended to anyone who it open-minded and doesn’t like dealing with hotels or is looking for something a bit cheaper. We also used it in Seattle and are using it for a NYC trip we have planned in October.

The only confusing thing about Canada was our cell phone! I got a google voice number because it is free calls to Canada, but when you’re in Canada, it counts as international roaming in Canada to call anywhere. The only time I had to call was to schedule a taxi to the Amtrak station so the cell phone bill was pretty small, though I’ve heard horror stories. Another thing about not having cell service is not having the internet on your phone! It was hard to have to plan out all the directions and routes for all our places beforehand instead of being able to do it on the fly like in the US, but it also helped us be less “connected” and focus more on being in the moment.

Here’s a few hilights of our trip, separated by day.

Day 1

Day 1 started with a long journey via airplane to Vancouver. Right when our feet hit Canadian soil, we spotted a JapaDog cart and stopped for an improptu snack. We got the Kurobuta Terimayo which was listed as “must eat” and comes with a kurobuta pork sausage, teriyaki sauce, fried onions, japanese mayo, and seaweed. We also added peppers on one half. The people were super nice and all the dogs had interesting toppings, though a bit rich and salty for my taste. Too much japamayo? They took US & CAD.

View from our Condo Roof

While we were waiting to check-in to our condo, we stopped at Après-midi Premium Teahouse, which was tucked away into a small alley in Gastown. They had a great selection of loose leaf teas and made a nice, thick house chai with almond milk and agave. After check-in, we headed to Chinatown but stopped by Cartems Donuterie on the way. It was in a sketchy neighborhood, but the donuts (earl grey and cinnamon sugar) were the perfect combination of firmess and softness. The earl grey donut turned Dan into an earl grey fan (Seriously, he was on an earl grey kick the rest of the trip) and it wasn’t too sweet. After walking around Chinatown and stopping by some groceries and bakeries as well as the Sun Yat-Sen garden, we headed back to our condo to rest before heading out to Alibi Room. The drink menu was interesting menu and had a scale of “hoppiness” for each item. The scene was a bit too hipster, but we just went for drinks which were very strong but well balanced.

ChinatownBoneta

We then walked over to L’abbatoir for a delicious experience. We had accidentally made the reservation for the week later, but we just sat and ate at the bar. We asked for recommendations and received the poached egg and mushrooms with pecorino cheese sabayon and summer truffle, pan fried veal sweetbreads on toast with sauce gribiche with veal tongues, and an assorted bread basket. We ordered the banana daiquiri (Jamaican rum, Bananne de Brasil, fresh lime, Ardbeg 10 yr) and clover club refashioned (Gin, fresh raspberries, sweet vermouth, mint, fresh lemon) which were strong but easy to drink. The bartender was also nice enough to right down some Seattle recommendations for us since we were going to Seattle after our stay in Vancouver. We ended the night by stopping by Boneta and getting a Southpaw.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Zucchini Bread

When my boyfriend was growing up, he had a neighbor that grew zucchini. Every year he would bring over a basket of zucchini and Dan’s mom would make some zucchini bread for him in return. This recipe for zucchini bread comes from his family and has been been tested and approved through all the years. This recipe makes two larger loaves, though sometimes I opt to make half in loaf format and half in muffins, or just halve the recipe to make one loaf. Sometimes I top the bread with a sugar glaze, granola, or nuts.

Last Sunday we went to Hollins Farm to pick fruits and vegetables, including zucchini. Truthfully, I picked five small zucchini (about the size of my finger) just for their squash blossoms. After harvesting the squash blossoms, I grated the zucchini and had just enough for one loaf of bread. Waste not, want not!

Update: This bread always go so fast, so I originally published this post with Instagram photos with the promise of updated pictures and an attempt at zucchini bread with pineapple or dried fruit in it to make this bread perform double duty. I’m happy to report that I was forced to improvise this version recently when I was short a ½ cup of zucchini and 1 egg. I added in ¼ cup pineapple, ¼ pineapple juice, and a couple handfuls of dried pineapples and walnuts. The batter was looking a little thin so I added a couple spoonfuls of Crunchy Biscoff Spread before popping them into muffin liners and topping with granola, banana chips, and chia seeds to make them “healthier”. I tasted one and they were incredibly moist and delicious even two days later. This version is great, but some people hate nuts or pineapple in their baked goods, so know your audience well.

French Silk Chile Chai Chocolate Pie

My dad is one of those people that says you’re supposed to eat hot foods when it’s hot outside. I think he just wants an excuse to eat hot bowls of noodles all year round! The weather in Washington DC has been sweltering recently, which I actually enjoy–I’m always cold so I love when I can finally wear dresses and shorts without goose bumps.

This recipe is a combination of cold and hot, as part of Marx Food’s Fire on Ice Chile Recipe Contest.

Update: I brought this pie in to work and everyone loved it — they actually liked it better without knowing there was chile powder in it since it was a surprise. They also were amazed I made my own chile powder! The contest is now open for voting, so if you like this recipe or wanted to see the other entries, please head over there now to vote

I recently was on vacation in Vancouver and Seattle where it was a balmy 50-70 degrees. At one of the many coffee and tea shops I stopped by, I got a house-made chai made with fresh ground ginger and cayenne. That unique and delicious drink is part of the inspiration of this recipe. This recipe for French Silk Pie has been in my boyfriend’s family for years and I thought it was time for a new twist. This pie is usually served for birthdays or holidays in a normal pie crust.

I used a combination of homemade chile powder and chile syrup to get the subtle heat I wanted in this cool, rich dessert. The chile powder is a combination of dried habanero, japone, ancho, guajillo,  pequin, and cascabel peppers. The peppers range from mild to hot and savory to slightly sweet, so I combined them all for a complex, multi-dimensional chile powder by following Marx Food’s directions on how to make your own chile powder. I only have a sesame seed grinder and food processor, so I used the processor since it’s used for my pie crust as well.

I added a ½ teaspoon chile powder to the crust and the chocolate filling and also added ½ teaspoon chai cocoa powder to temper the spice. If you don’t have chai cocoa powder, you can use regular cocoa powder or just decrease the amount of chile. If the heat is too much, omit the chile simple syrup (1 guajillo chile, rehydrated, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, simmered together) and add more whipped cream.

Go check out all the other entries in the Fire on Ice Contest over at Marx Foods! Thanks again to Marx Foods for the great Chiles, I have many more plans for them, including chili oil!


Note: I was given the chiles free of charge from Marx Foods, though all thoughts and recipes are my own.

Tipsy Honu:

The Cucumber-some Brother



This was my response to my boyfriend’s brother’s request for “something refreshing”. With recent power outages and temperatures of over 100 degrees, something crisp, clean, and refreshing is definitely required. The problem is that so many mixers and even liqueurs are so sweet that it makes the drinks themselves heavy and quite the opposite of refreshing.

I used some homemade cucumber vodka in this drink, but there are cucumber-infused vodkas on the market if you choose not to infuse at home (Square One comes to mind). The use of a metal straw keeps this drink cold from the glass to your mouth.

Note: I made this drink, then made two more and combined, for a grand total of around three portions in the picture shown. The actual yield of this recipe is about a third of what you see.

Tipsy Honu:

Homemade Infused Vodkas & Gin

After making vanilla extract this past winter, we decided to try out hand at infusing booze with some other things. We have been using the results of our experiments in some delicious drinks which you’ll see here soon.

First we tried blackberry vodka and blackberry gin. The gin tasted better than the vodka, like a very clean and fresh sloe gin, but we didn’t like the amount of sugar that was used. We tried three other infusions without any sugar: Apple, Cucumber, and Honeydew, in order of successful-ness. The honeydew tasted fine, but the smell was a bit off-putting. The cucumber and apple tasted great, but the complexity added by the spices of the apple infusion earned it the #1 spot in our infusions race so far.

These recipes all yield small amounts (except the blackberry) because we wanted to test the recipe before making larger batches.

Blackberry Vodka/Gin

  • 2 cups vodka/gin
  • 300g blackberries
  • 150g sugar

Using a needle, prick each blackberry a few times. Combine sugar, pricked blackberries, and vodka or gin in a jar and shake it until combined. Store in a cool dry place, shaking every day for: Gin – 3 weeks, Vodka – 5-6 weeks. Strain the fruit out (you can keep them in the refrigerator in a separate container for garnish or other uses).  You can use this to replace wherever sloe gin is called for, or regular gin/vodka.

Cucumber Vodka

  • 1 cup cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 strip lemon peel
  • 1 cup vodka

Put cucumber in jar, top with lemon peel and cover with vodka. Store in cool place for 4-7 days, shaking daily. Strain, reserving the cucumbers for garnish or use in other drinks (particularly good muddled in Pimm’s Cups).

Honeydew Mint Vodka

  • 1 cup diced honeydew melon
  • 2 sprigs mint
  • 1 cup vodka

Put melon and mint sprigs in jar, top with vodka. Store in cool place for 4 days, shaking daily. Strain and discard the fruit and mint.

Piña Colada Cupcakes – Happy 21st Birthday Ariel!

My sister recently turned 21 years old and to surprise her, my mom collected her friends, family, and Girl Scout troop at a local restaurant. Of course, she tasked me with bringing dessert. Since my sister turned 21, I figured I’d incorporate some booze in the cupcakes, but not too much since many people were still under age.

These cupcakes are not too sweet and are extremely moist. The coconut in the frosting keeps it from getting too heavy and while the cupcakes were cooling, I brushed some extra booze on top. My sister’s nickname is “Bear”, so I made some bear-shaped chocolates to go on top too. I put some almond extract in to simulate the orgeat syrup that is often used in tiki-style drinks.

I made some extra to bring in to work the next day; they keep great overnight because of all the moisture from the fruit.