Friday, April 11, 2014

Blackberry & Creamy Goat Cheese Sticky Buns + A Giveaway

Blackberry Twists | Adventures in Cooking

The first glimpse of spring always leaves me eager and ready for summer. I think seeing the first batch of fruits start to come back 'round again gets my berry-clock ticking, because that's all I've been wanting to make, lately. Berries. berries. berries. So, I decided to channel my seasonal dependency into something more productive than just staring at a bunch of berries and sighing. I've always had a penchant for blackberries and creamy goat cheese, as is evidenced by this cheesecake, and my love for sticky buns has been a part of who I am for as long as I've walked this earth, so I decided to unite the two in a decadent, delicious, and swirly little pastry.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bananas in Coconut Milk with a Thai Tea Caramel + Mango Sticky Rice + Northern Thailand

Bananas in Coconut Milk & Mango Sticky Rice  | Adventures in Cooking

After going through the thousands (not an exaggeration, sadly) of photos I took on our trip to Thailand, I realized that I could not fit everything about Thailand into one post. So, I am breaking it up into three posts, the north, the south, and the center. Each post will be paired with a delicious Thai recipe (or in this case, two!) as an excuse for me to make, eat, and share as much tasty Thai food as possible. For this post, I'm sharing recipes for mango with sticky rice and bananas in coconut milk, but I put a little twist on these traditional desserts by making a Thai tea caramel with the palm sugar we bought on our trip. I used coconut milk instead of heavy cream for the caramel and steeped 1 tablespoon of Thai tea in it. But the rest of the caramel was pretty standard aside from the use of palm, or coconut, sugar, which is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree. You can get palm sugar at most natural food stores and there's a ton of it on amazon, too. I really feel like I created something momentous with this caramel, you guys. Like a benchmark to hold all my other recipes up to. I've never tasted anything like it before, it has a rich, nutty, creamy flavor and tastes like a warm cup of thai tea that you added the tastiest butter and cream and sugar you could find to. If you enjoy caramel on any level, it's worth tracking down the palm sugar and Thai tea to give this recipe a go. And now, Thailand...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Homemade Kefir + A Honey-Roasted Banana Kefir Smoothie + A Cookbook Giveaway

Homemade Kefir | Adventures in Cooking

Ever since I got a yogurt-making machine as a wedding gift, I've become increasingly obsessed with fermenting things. I ordered a sample pack of different yogurt-starter bacteria and was surprised and intrigued by the different yogurt flavors and textures the same batch of milk produced, and how much tastier each of the strains were than the store-bought stuff. Being a Greek & all, my favorite form of yogurt has always been plain thick Greek yogurt with honey swirled in (especially when some of that honey stays in a lump on the spoon, and I get a little bit of it with every bite. HEAVEN.) Having the yogurt-machine was a nice introduction to dairy-based cultures, and right around the time I started feeling confidant about it, the lovely Julia Mueller of The Roasted Root reached out to me about reviewing her new cookbook, Delicious Probiotic Drinks.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mango Coconut Scones {Vegan}

Mango Coconut Scones {Vegan}

I swear I am *this close* to finishing my edit of the Thailand photos, and I will be sharing my favorite Thai recipes I learned there very, very soon! But until then, I have a little Thai-inspired pastry to share with all of you. One of my favorite things I had while I was there was a tall, sweaty glass of fresh-squeezed mango juice mixed with coconut milk. It was incredibly refreshing and rich at the same time, so I wanted to try and recreate that flavor combination elsewhere, and decided to do so in scone-form. They've always been my favorite pastry for a few reasons. 1) They're dense as hell (love that crumbly, thick texture) 2) They are versatile. (Want a sweet scone? Add fruit and sugar. Want a savory scone? Add cheese and herbs.) And 3) They are stupidly easy to make (mix everything together, smash it into a rough circle, cut into slices with pizza cutter, bake and serve!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake With Whipped Cream Cheese + Honey

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake | Adventures in Cooking

Twenty-seven years ago today, I was born in Portland, Oregon to a warm-hearted midwesterner and a kind and reserved Greek island-dweller. It's funny how when you're a kid you can't even imagine spending a birthday apart from your parents, but then you get older, you move, sometimes far away, and you learn to live life without seeing them. I talk to my mom on the phone pretty much every day, barring any unexpected craziness, and we'll be talking today of course (and maybe even skype!), but I am definitely looking forward to the birthday that I'll be able to spend back home with them again. Nothing can replace the way my mom makes such a big deal about my "special day", or how my dad always looks so proud of me after I blow out the candles, even as a grown-up.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Ricotta & Marjoram Medallions

Sautéed Chard with Ricotta Medallions

I know I don't make a whole lot of vegetable-heavy meals here, and it is something I want to try to do more often, but I'll be honest, I usually find myself hitting a brick wall when it comes to being creative with vegetables. I know there's so many ways to enjoy and prepare them, but for some reason I have a difficult time coming up with any of them myself. And on top of that, I've noticed that I somehow always manage to incorporate something decidedly unhealthy into the healthy, vegetable-based meal I am trying to create. Like the time I tried to make a salad and ended up putting bacon drippings on it (it was basically a BLAT without the bread, and it was delicious). So when McCormick approached me about participating in another ingredient challenge for April's Go 4 Gourmet and I heard that the first ingredient was leafy greens, I was a little nervous because, aside from spanikopita and beet greens, my experience with salads and the like is fairly limited. But agreeing to the challenge would provide me with the motivation I needed to experiment in the field of vegetables, so I accepted to basically force myself to be a better vegetable-maker.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb & Tarragon Tarte Tartin


Growing up in Oregon, I always knew spring was coming around when the thermometer outside passed 50 degrees and a little ray of sunshine managed to shove its way through the densely packed clouds and left a small spot of warmth on the ground below. Here in California, however, I knew spring had arrived the moment the skies parted and large droplets of rain began furiously pelting the dusty rooftops of the city and flooding its sunken streets. While the general flooding of the sidewalks around my neighborhood was a bit irksome when trying to walk the pup, my garden soaked it up like a sponge and little bits of greenery began poking their way through the softened soil. Tulips sprouted, the branches of my columbines became heavy with buds, and the entire neighborhood exploded with the scent of wet, clean earth and rapidly blooming flowers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

I have no idea as to why, but I never had Irish soda bread until last year when I picked up a loaf from a local bakery to take to my friend’s house on my way to her St. Patrick’s day dinner. It was sitting on the seat next to me, and because of the wonderful aroma it filled my car with, I had a very difficult time leaving it alone until I reached her home. Not only did it smell like fresh-baked bread, but there was a definite sweetness to it, and a wonderfully rich smell. For some reason I always thought that Irish soda bread was a dry, tough, and chewy bread; but when we sliced into it at dinner and I had my first bite, I could not have been more wrong.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese with Sourdough Bread Bits

My love affair with tomato soup has been a long and heartfelt one. Pure tomato soup wasn't a dish that was ever served in my childhood home, so I can only assume that it doesn't have a firm footing in Greek cooking. We had lentil soups and vegetable soups with tomatoes in them of course, but never the traditional pureed, concentrated, and creamy tomato soup that most of us know and love. The first time I had tomato soup was with my Grandfather, Jay Rustin Schafer, a proud Hoosier and southern Indiana native. He'd have all of us over for lunch or dinner from time to time, and there was always some exciting new dish to be had. He'd make us southern-style potato salad, complete with sliced hard-boiled eggs on top and a pinch of paprika, pulled pork sandwiches on wonderfully white and fluffy buns, and on the occasion of a cool winter's day, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup for dippin'.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cappuccino Whoopie Pies With A Salted Chocolate Ganache

Coffee and chocolate have always gone hand in hand for me. My childhood home had a tiled floor, and since most of the year in Oregon is rather chilly and my dad's always been a bit tight with the purse strings, the temperature of our house always tended to hover around 62 degrees. I was an incredibly tiny child, not because I didn't eat (most of my childhood memories consist of times I was eating and/or being encouraged to eat by family members) but because my wee Mediterranean genes kept me short and bony. This, coupled with the fact that my weirdly large eyes occupied about 30% of my face, resulted in me looking very much like a malnourished and scraggly baby bird throughout most of my childhood. The small stature I was born into tended to exacerbate my lack of body heat, so I came up with various ways to warm myself up during those chilly fall/winter/spring days, my favorite of which involved sneaking various sweets into my parents' steaming cups of Greek coffee whenever they left them unattended.