Tastebud Travel: Trying Indian Food

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Veggie Samosa

What’s #FoodieFriday without a sweet recipe? A very sad Friday if it weren’t for my most recent indulgence!

A Small Disclaimer: I’m a very picky eater–no matter where or with any cuisine–whose diet mainly consists of pasta, cheese, beef, and chicken.

I’m not normally one to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to food, but recently i’ve found myself craving new food combinations–even ones i’ve never even tried before. When my Anthropology class assignment literally told me to eat at an authentic, new restaurant and “BE ADVENTUROUS”, I knew I had to go past my Chinese take-out favorites. I would love to travel to India one day, even if I don’t necessarily get the guts to do that amazing looking Rickshaw Run, so yesterday I combined my school work with my personal curiosity of the country’s cuisine.

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Main Course

My mom, who had never had Indian food either, came with me to try something new for herself (and because she’s the best).  Kama Bistro in La Grange (IL) was a good starter restaurant because it considers its menu full of “contemporary” Indian cuisine with influences from other cultures. We told the waiter about our lack of experience with Indian food, so she was very kind with explaining things and giving suggestions.That and some of my previous research–because this was magically an assignment at the end of the day–led us to this:

What We Tried:

  • Vegetable Samosa
  • Chicken Tikka Masala
  • Aloo Gobi
  • Plain Rice
  • Naan
  • Yellow Dal (I think? My mom kept calling it lentils…)

IMG_9524Of course we could not skip dessert, no matter how full we were. I think we went with the most American option, that beautiful Bitter Chocolate Delight beauty to the right, but it was also the only option without nuts–and my oral allergy syndrome would not appreciate any of those.

I found some of the tastes familiar, probably because of one of the spices that I could not quiet put my finger on. I liked the kick of spice that some of the dishes just barely had, because I can barely handle mild buffalo sauce on a good day. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I’m glad the flavors were not too overwhelming. I was not blown away, but I enjoyed my meal.

Final Thoughts: I would gladly go grab Indian food if any of my friends had a craving, but don’t wait on me to be the one to suggest it first! To be honest, my favorite part was the naan bread with the Chicken Tikka Masala coming as a close second.

What is everyone’s experience with Indian food? Should I have tried something else on the menu? Any other picky eaters out there hesitant to try new foods? 🙋

Stay Curious,

Casey

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Never Too Much: Tried & True Pumpkin Cake

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This pumpkin cake is a tasty mouthful in the name itself as a cake with cream cheese frosting in the middle and a chocolate ganache on top.

I wanted to share this recipe with you all on this #FoodieFriday because I really enjoy making things that taste great but don’t take a lot of decorating to look delicious either–and you can never have too much pumpkin in your life!

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 7.34.56 PM.pngI promise not all of my food post are going to be Pinterest recipes, or even just recipes, but I am enjoying baking as much as I can while I have a kitchen! Somewhere between my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte and pumpkin bread indulgences, I still managed to be interested in this recipe. I have made this cake twice now, both of which I have been very pleased with how they turned out.

My cakes never ended up looking like the original photo, but that did not even cross my mine until I attached it above. This cake is so delicious that it would be okay if you stopped reading this post and went to make it right now, but then you would miss the really good stuff.

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What Makes This Cake Special:

  1. IMG_9390It’s really easy to make: I feel like my cakes can be ruined by one simple decorating mistake, but this recipe was stress free on that and all parts. The recipe is fool proof; no decorations required.
  2. It is not even that sweet: The actual baked cake is similar to a very soft pumpkin bread that is a bit sweeter, so the toppings are really what set this cake apart from actual plain bread old with chocolate chips.DSC00786.jpg
  3. The Cream Cheese: I don’t know if pumpkin and cream cheese are a regular thing that I did not know about, but the flavors are so complementary.
  4. The ganache… THE GANACHE: This is like perfect touch to this cake. Chocolate and pumpkin are an amazing combination.

My Tips:

  • Be Cautious with the Confectioners Sugar. The cream cheese filling and ganache get stiff very quickly, so make sure you take the time to see if you like the consistency before you put in those last few 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar.
  • DOUBLE IT. DOUBLE IT ALL. The recipe mentions that you can double it if you want two cakes and let me just say a single cake is extremely small. Don’t bother making this cake if your are not going to double it, because the cake will be gone before you know it if you don’t.

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My family definitely knows how to eat, but I think us finishing almost half of my most recent take on this cake in one night definitely says something. This dessert was very easily a highlight of my indulgences this week, and I think it could be one of yours too!

Let me know how this one goes for you all!

Stay Sweet,

Casey

Poppin’ Like It’s Hot: Tried & True Blueberry Muffins

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Happy #FoodieFriday!

When you have a sweet tooth as strong as mine, you try your best to fit in the healthier food groups into your diet whenever possible. The only way i’m going to be eating blueberries is when I eat them in muffins–If I end up gaining the freshman 15, it will be because of Newark’s Brewed Awakening’s blueberry muffins.  I had a perfect opportunity to try to make bakery-like muffins from home, and actually eat blueberries without cringing every time I feel the squish and pop, when my mom asked me to use up a pack of blueberries.

Instead of even opening one of the dozens of cookbookScreen Shot 2015-12-17 at 7.30.34 PM.pngs in my house, I found a recipe on Pinterest-from a blog that even said the recipe was “tried and true”. As far as picking the recipe, I used my usual criteria that mostly depends on the pictures. The recipe does not call for anything out-of-the-ordinary, which makes it perfect for just whipping up one afternoon.

 

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Long Story Short… MAKE THESE MUFFINS!

There is not much I would change about this recipe. I am concerned how just about everything will turn out as I put it into the oven (miss perfectionist here), but these reassured me as soon as I started to smell them baking.  The muffins are a sweet treat that I never regret eating, even when one isn’t enough.

Highlights and Tips:

  • IMG_8643.jpgFilling the muffin tins to the top with batter should make picturesque muffins that pour over the top once they rise (I personally should have filled mine more!).
  • DO NOT HESITATE with sprinkling sugar on top; It’s a nice touch!
  • Same with the blueberries: the batter-to-berry is perfect so don’t hesitate with adding the berries.
  • 25 minutes on convection bake were all my muffins needed. This gives the berries enough time to beautifully pop and ooze all over the muffins without burning the bread part.
  • I used whole milk but others may work.

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Whether you’re more of a health nut or dessert connoisseur, whether you’re an amateur baker or restaurant chef, I really suggest you try this recipe. You get more than the basic blueberry muffin experience with the beauty, texture, and taste of a bakery muffin from scratch. Pair it with a cup of tea and you have yourself a great afternoon.

 

 

Eat Up!

Casey

 

Hello October: My September Favorites

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It looks like goals are not going to be my thing, but I have definitely found some favorites!

  1. My Suite mates

I was really nervous about making friends going into college. I have yet to find my true group, but what I have for now is completely fine with me. I love my roommates and suite mates, or at least the ones that have not moved out. There has been very little drama, but we managed to have two suite mates move out and one move in. The three OG are the best, even if they aren’t perfect. I could not have been more lucky. They are helpful, caring, and very entertaining. (They do not know about this blog so I am going to hold off on pictures… for now)

  1. Café Studying

I was told that I should find my own niché going into college and that is exactly what I did. A lot of people I know like the library or the dorm lounges, but I am willing to pay for tea or coffee whenever I need a place to study. I crave the sounds of the steamer and cafe chatter. The idea of becoming a regular at Newark’s Brewed Awakenings in basically my goal in life right now. My productivity levels increase so much when I am there. I can’t wait to go back as I type this, and I was literally just there

  1. Ocean City, New JerseyIMG_7278

As much as I enjoy my suite mates, I was overjoyed when I had the chance to get away for the weekend in OCNJ. The house (my grandma’s extra house) is being kept open all year for my sake, so of course I had to check it out. I didn’t realize it until I got on the road, but I missed being alone so much. I also missed fresh air and the open road. The full weekend, although still full of homework and laundry, was more than I could have asked for. I love Ocean City so much and I cannot wait to go back.

  1. WaWa

IMG_7389National Coffee Day came and went this September. Last September I would not have cared, but now I am a changed *college* woman who needs coffee. Wawa was my supplier for that, and now many other things. I need to start a petition for more WaWas nationwide for when I go home to Chicago. Wawa does not have all that much, but for some reason I just love it. It’s probably because of all of the sweet foods and subs (hoagies?!?!).

  1. Food

Walking is my main form of transportation is college, but unfortunately I am usually walking to or from places with food or near food. Be ready for some posts about Insomnia Cookies and Newark Deli & Bagel, among many other places, once I get my hands on more of their menu items. While my dining hall food is okay, the off campus food just a short walk from my dorm is amazing. Fingers crossed exercising is in my favorites next month. #FightingThatFreshmanFifteen

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September was a roller coaster ride, but a good month over-all. I won’t go into detail because I want to safe all the juicy stuff for full posts of their own.

This was a short list with nothing to specific, but I just really wanted to post SOMETHING. I am slowly getting my lift together here at UD, but I am going to test out a new system so I can post more. Wish me luck.

Hope everyone had a great September!

Casey

Tried & True: Panera Bread Coffee Cake Dupe #FoodieFriday

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I used to think you could only eat coffee cake with coffee. Like you could have coffee alone, but not the cake without coffee. This all changed in seventh grade when Charles H. brought in coffee cake WITHOUT COFFEE, and it was delicious. I never found out exactly where it was from, but my mom soon picked up one of Panera Bread’s Coffee Cakes to try and that was close enough. It was probably the same cake for all I know by now. Over the next several years my mom occasionally brought the infamous cake home for me to devour, and I was always grateful.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 7.45.04 PMAs an avid cake maker and eater, it finally occurred to me this summer that I should make my own coffee cake instead of buying it. I prefer to know what I am eating and it would just be more fun. Returning again to Pinterest I found a recipe with a very appealing picture. It was a simple recipe from the good ole’ Martha Stewart. I gave it a shot for the first time two months ago, and (spoiler alert) I recently made it again because I love it so much.

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The first time I made a couple mistakes due to my own stupidity, so make sure you read the recipe carefully. I missed the whole part about putting the streusel part on before putting it in the oven, but putting it on afterwards still turned out okay. The cooking time was also off, but that is usually the case for my oven in particular. I really appreciated not having to alter anything from the actual recipe on my second go around!

I had the hardest time getting the cake out of the pan on my second try. I do not know if it was because I was eager so the pan was still hot & the cake was less stable or that the streusel on top (that I actually did correctly this time) was making a mess. After some frustration I finally got in on a plate to glaze, which was my favorite part. Seeing it melt onto the cake was beautiful. IMG_6943

So this recipe was tried & true to a tee. I loved it with some black tea. This cake is basically Tea Cake because I don’t drink coffee unless it’s part of a sugary Starbucks Frappucino, but I have heard it is delicious either way.IMG_6945

I would love to hear what you think of it if you try it!

Casey

Would You Rather: Pizza Edition

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Chicago Deep Dish or New York Flat Crust?

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Now Manco & Manco in OCNJ

I was born and raised on New York style flat crust pizza. Technically New Jersey but same thing. Every single summer I practically ate my body weight in Manco & Manco’s pizza in Ocean City, New Jersey, and I never regretted a single bite.

My family always stuck with flat crust at home in Chicago because neither of my parents are from the midwest, so I was really not a true Chicagoan until I was a freshman in high school. It was around this time that I was not spending as much time out east, so I had to find another greasy guilty pleasure. I never knew what I was missing out on. Giordano’s Deep Dish is a bread bowl of greasy, cheesy goodness.

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Now I am leaving for school in less than a week, and I just ate my last piece of deep dish for at least three months. I completely stuffed my face, and my stomach only regrets it slightly. I have enjoyed my fair share of both deep and flat pizzas throughout the years & my different travels. I am a little bit of everything but Italian, so I cannot explain my love for pizza. It’s all delicious.

The idea of choosing between deep dish and flat crust stems to something much deeper for me.

It’s like East Coast versus MidWest.

Old versus New.

IMG_4431Trying to keep that out of mind, I think I would have to go with flat crust. I can enjoy more of it without worrying about a giant food baby. There are more varieties and options. It’s just delicious. More importantly Manco & Manco is delicious.

I will probably never eat it the “correct” way by folding it, but that will just be me holding onto my midwestern non-east coaster past.

Posting this about pizza really shows my priorities, but I hope you have all had a chance to try all the pizzas near and far to you!

What type is your favorite?

Casey

Tried & True?: Skinny Vanilla Bean Donuts

On what i am now calling #FoodieFriday, I’m talking about another Pinterest recipe!

I have been obsessing over donuts and just breakfast in general lately. I can basically eat sugary sweets as soon as I wake up and it’s not completely frowned upon until about my fourth donut. Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 12.13.18 PM
It is all actually kind of a problem.

Trying to make my guilty pleasure a little less guilty, I decided to try a recipe from The Skinny Fork. Their pictures looked amazing and the heart shapes of the donuts were just adorable. My amazing mom searched high and low for the vanilla bean paste that the recipe called for just so I could make these treats. It was a perfect excuse to use my (unfortunately non-heart-shaped) donut pans one last time before I leave for school.

I followed the recipe exactly, until I got to the milk. I used 2% instead of fat free, solely because I did not want the extra milk afterwards to go to waste. I am not sure if it was this, but when I combined the wet and dry ingredients, the dough/batter was stiff. Not exactly as dry-as-a-desert stiff, but not the consistency I expected. I added an extra splash of milk that kind of helped.
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I would second the suggested idea to use a piping bag to get the dough into the donut pan. It made the job easier, although it piped out a little weird due to, again, the consistency. The batter made six donuts, instead of the eight it said it would. Anyway, I popped them into the oven as called for, but about halfway through the cooking time I decided to flip the donuts. I thought it would help with the shape of them like it had it the past so that both sides could form to the smooth pan. They were already hard enough where it did not do much.

I finally took them out a bit later, having just finished making the super-easy glaze, which I also substituted whole milk in for the fat free. I only let them cool for a few minutes until I dipped them into the glaze.

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It was finally time for my favorite part: the taste test. I was not feeling too good about these donuts so far, but I am usually pretty hard on myself no matter how good it looks. There is also the matter of my milk switches.
The donuts were good. They had the subtle vanilla bean flavor that I was looking for. I expected them to be drier than they were, so that was a nice surprise. The actual baked donuts were not sweet but the glaze was extremely sweet. This did kind of even things out in the overall sweetness department. I will say my parents loved them.

IMG_6807This was a nice healthier alternative to other recipes I both have tried and will try. I can only really seeing myself returning to this recipe when I want a sugar break or a healthier option.

I still encourage you to give it a try!

Casey