Thursday, October 23, 2014

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Wow, it's been another long break since I last blogged - too long! The end of summer and start of fall have been very busy and unfortunately my blog got away from me. From enjoying the US Open with friends to seeing one of my favorite artists Jason Mraz live, training for and running my first half marathon to spending a few weeks traveling around Europe, it's been a busy but fun few months. Now that fall is really starting to set in, my favorite time of the year, I'm more than ready to start cooking and blogging about my favorite fall dishes!


I couldn't decide what I wanted to make for dinner other than something comforting and quick to make, and all of a sudden, a childhood favorite popped into my head - hamburger helper! What's better than a 20 minute meal that's meaty and cheesy? After cooking the ground beef and adding in the spices, the entire mixture simmered together until it became a pan of thick, creamy goodness. I even added a full two cups of cheddar cheese to make it creamier.


The hamburger helper turned out delicious, reminiscent of my childhood but even better since it didn't come out of a box. I will definitely make this again when I'm craving some comfort food. What's your favorite childhood dish to recreate? Let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Earl Grey and Honey Cake

Now that the summer heat is starting to subside a bit, I've had a craving to start baking again. Since I'm a big tea drinker, as my blog title suggests, I decided to make a tea based cake! I found a recipe for earl grey and honey cake, which sounds quite delicious since earl grey is one of my favorite black teas.


This cake was a no brainer because all I needed to buy to make it was earl grey tea. I know, I was surprised that I didn't have any myself, but I tend to go through black tea quickly. There is a double dose of earl grey tea in the batter, both steeping tea bags in butter and milk as well as adding the tea leaves directly into the dry ingredients. The aroma when the tea was steeping made me very excited for the final result.


The cake didn't rise quite as much as I expected that it would in the oven, but it looked great in the end. After taking the cake out of the pan, I brushed on the syrupy earl grey glaze to keep it moist and it looked beautiful.


I would definitely recommend making the cake if you love earl grey since the flavor is strong, but delicious. What will you be baking this summer as it eases into fall? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Tastes and Travel

Wow, what a busy summer it has been so far! Shortly after my last post, I went home to NC for about a week to see my parents and my new baby sister, Miia. I had a great time being able to really take it easy and spend quality time with my family, but I wish it would have lasted longer. 


A few weeks after going home, I went to Chicago for work and had a great time exploring the city, eating obscene amounts of delicious food and enjoying some great local beer. I highly recommend checking out Goose Island Brewery and trying a flight of your favorite beers. They have over 40 beers you can choose from and really helpful bartenders to help you decide, which is how I found my perfect flight to enjoy. 

My awesome beer flight at Goose Island

One of the best restaurants I went to was The Purple Pig, a Mediterranean tapas restaurant with simple but delicious dishes. I had charred cauliflower with toasted breadcrumbs, cornichons and parsley and a pea salad with bacon and mint. Both dishes tasted so fresh and were a perfect blend of flavors. I highly recommend going there if you're in Chicago - just be aware of the long wait!


Finally, Matt and I went to Dallas to visit my college friend Laura for a long weekend. Despite the triple digit weather, we had a great time, eating more great food and even more local beer! My favorite bar was definitely Truck Yard, an outdoor beer garden that has an eclectic feel with food trucks that change every day. The food was delicious, getting to try dishes from each of the options, and enjoying some local beer.



We spent a day in Fort Worth and of course, we found beer! I tried a Texas flight at The Flying Saucer, which of course reminded me of being back in NC. We went to the Stockyards and saw the cattle drive, checked out some western stores, and had another beer.


Our last meal in Dallas was at Smoke for brunch. We had so much food, more than we could possibly eat, but it was all very delicious. We had ribs and brisket, which both melted in our mouth, cheese grits and fries. I would have eaten everything if I could, but unfortunately my stomach ran out of room. And of course, one final Dallas beer before we had to leave!


Whew, now I'm getting back on track with cooking - there will be some new recipes I've tried out coming soon! I hope you're all having a great summer full of food and great travel!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend Getaway: Red Hook, NY

Sometimes you just need to get out of the city for the weekend, enjoy some fresh air and take in everything nature has to offer. Matt and I did just that this past weekend, heading to a lake house with our good friends Tommy and Julie. We headed two hours north of the city to the town of Red Hook, NY, where we made our way to the Painted Turtle Cottage, our home for the weekend.


The charming red house was exactly what we were hoping for - a rustic, yet modern cabin feel on the inside and a large sunroom to enjoy many meals and great views of the lake. There was a path down to the lake, where there were two balconies, the higher being ideal for enjoying lunch and the lower where you can find canoes and kayaks to enjoy. There was even a floating dock!



After loading up with food and drinks, we enjoyed everything the house had to offer for the weekend. While Friday was rainy, we had a great meal and made some s'mores once the rain died down. The house also had a basement with a ping pong table, which we took full advantage of throughout Friday and Saturday. One of the most relaxing features of the house was the outdoor hot tub!


On Saturday, we made a delicious breakfast before canoeing and kayaking in the lake, playing frisbee in the front yard, riding bikes, grilling burgers for lunch, swimming in the lake, playing lots of ping pong, hanging out in the hot tub, and having steaks and corn on the cob for dinner. We packed in all we could on Saturday!


Sadly, Sunday was our last day so we made breakfast, enjoying one last meal in the sunroom before cleaning up and taking a final walk around the property. We even saw some chickens as we were packing up the car!



I would have loved to have another day at the lake, but we definitely did everything we could while we were there. Hopefully we'll have another weekend getaway this summer, especially once it really starts warming up!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cronuts!

I can now say that I've tried a cronut. You're probably wondering if the wait was worth it, and I'm here to tell you that it was! I don't think I'll be doing it every month to try each new flavor, but the experience itself was a lot of fun.


Matt and I met up with two of our friends nice and early at 6:20am on Saturday, went for a run from the New York Public Library down to Dominique Ansel Bakery, and got in line around 6:45am. The one hour 15 minute wait went pretty quickly, especially when we were given a lemon madeleine to enjoy halfway through. We were informed that the flavor for June is a strawberry balsamic and mascarpone filled cronut, rolled in basil sugar, and topped with strawberry glaze. My mouth was already watering.

Once the clock struck 8, we started moving forward! They only let in a certain number of people at one time, so we had to wait for the first group to clear out before making our way inside. Once we were in, we were able to witness the cronut assembly as the line slowly moved forward. 


You're allowed two cronuts per person, so of course we went for this option. In addition to our cronuts, we also got a DKA, which stands for Dominique’s Kouign Amann. The bakery website describes it as a tender, flaky, croissant-like dough with a caramelized crunchy crust.


We found a table on the back outdoor patio, and settled in to enjoy our tasty treats. The cronut had a good balance between flaky and doughy, without being too dense. The strawberry jam and mascarpone filling were sweet and creamy. All in all, the cronut was a very satisfying treat!


Let me know in the comments section if you get the chance to go to Dominique Ansel bakery and try the cronut yourself! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day Trip: Cold Spring and Beacon, NY

Over the long Memorial Day weekend, Matt and I decided to get out of the city for a day for some fresh air and a change of pace. We decided to head north about an hour to Cold Spring and Beacon, two towns adjacent to one another on Metro North.

An awesome yellow building right by the Cold Spring train station

One of two inns in Cold Spring

We started in Cold Spring, walking along Main Street, where there is a plethora of antique shops, coffee shops and restaurants. After walking the length of the street, we decided to have lunch at Hudson Hils, which seemed to be the popular choice based on the crowd of people waiting for a table. Our lunch didn't disappoint - I had a delicious grilled cheese with Gouda cheese, thinly sliced apples, fig paste and of course, bacon. It was crispy and full of flavor.


After we were full of food and coffee, we stopped in at some antique shops to see what they had to offer. We found some interesting items, like moustache tea cups that appear to protect men's moustaches while sipping such a delicate beverage - who knew? Every shop had tons of books, and it was nice seeing a mix of both old and new cookbooks. 


Cookbooks, galore!

We got some ice cream - I really have to put this on my resume as a skill I have in always locating my favorite sweet treat - and took in the views of the Hudson River. It was a beautiful day and the views were gorgeous. 

Look at all the greenery and puffy clouds

After getting of fill of vitamin D, we took the train one stop north to Beacon. Our main purpose for checking out this town was to go to the modern art museum, Dia: Beacon. Typically I can get a little restless at museums when I don't feel engaged, but these exhibits were so unique that it was exciting to continue from room to room. Sadly, no pictures were allowed inside so you'll just have to visit the museum for yourself! The outdoor areas were really beautiful too.


We were ready to eat after enjoying some art, so we asked a woman at the museum for a recommendation. Since we love good food and good beer, we headed to The Hop, which just happened to be at the very far end of their Main Street. We made the trek and were rewarded with some good eats and drinks. I went for the beer flight while Matt tried a few individual beers. Our meals were especially great - I had the steak sandwich with one of their local cheeses and pesto, while Matt had their fennel sausage and mashed potatoes, topped with an egg.




The long walk back to the train station was much needed after filling up with a full day of yummy food. I would highly recommend checking out both towns, although I believe Beacon has more to offer with the museum and stores, restaurants and bars. Here's to more exploring outside the city throughout the summer!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thai Turkey Burgers

Every once in awhile, the craving for a tasty burger hits and I'm on the search for a new recipe. Since I'm trying (key word, trying) to eat healthier, I decided to look for an appealing turkey burger recipe. I stumbled upon this tasty sounding recipe for a Thai turkey burger with quick pickled cucumbers and sriracha mayo. Isn't your mouth watering already?


The burgers are so flavorful, bringing in warmth from the cinnamon, spice from the fresh ginger and a good kick of heat from the red pepper flakes. Complimenting the burger really well are the quick pickled cucumbers, which add some acidity and crunch. Rounding out the entire burger is the sriracha mayo, which adds a cooling element and another small kick of heat.


I was really excited to find pretzel buns at Fairway so I picked those up, toasted them a bit in the oven, and stacked everything together! These burgers are great for summer as the temperatures are heating up. Who doesn't want a juicy burger with some cooling aspects too? Let me know your favorite burger recipes that you'll be bringing out for the warm weather!