Reviews

Tastemade Video: Ted’s Bulletin – Reston, VA

Ted’s Bulletin

Cupcakes are so 2010 and doughnuts are so 2014, so what will replace those sweet food trends in 2015? Hopefully, homemade pop tarts. Yup, you heard me right.

You know I love pie: Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C. And a Pop Tart is basically just a flat, hand-held pie. At the forefront of this revolution, is Ted’s Bulletin, a local chain in the Washington, DC metro area. Not only are they serving up make-you-feel-like-a-kid-again pop tarts, but their comfort food will have you checking the kitchen for grandma. Couldn’t find grammy, but I did find a tasty lunch.

Ted’s wouldn’t share their secret pop tart recipe with me (and why should they?), so below is my best guess at how they make them. Now we can all make pop tarts at home!

HOW TO MAKE A HOMEMADE POP TART

  1. Buy one full-sized pie.
  2. Run over with steamroller.
  3. Eat.

 ***

Ted's Bulletin on Urbanspoon

Standard
Reviews, Travel

San Francisco Deficiency Syndrome

It’s been a few months since we visited the San Francisco Bay Area and already we’re starting to feel the effects of SFDS (San Francisco Deficiency Syndrome). Although not supported with medical data, every year SFDS, affects 100% of all humans living in our house. And unfortunately there is no treatment, except for visiting the San Francisco Bay Area.

In an effort to find an alternative cure, we figured it would be best to explore the root of the problem and identify some of the sources. It’s pretty clear that the syndrome is connected to the food we eat, so let’s take a look at some potential sources of our condition.

1.  Avatar’s – Sausalito, CA     Avatar's on Urbanspoon

Avatar's Restaurant Sausalito

One needs only one piece of evidence to suggest that Avatar’s is a powerful source of culinary creativity:  832 Yelp reviews with a near perfect rating. The restaurant is a fusion of Indian and Mexican cuisine, which sounds like an odd pairing, but when you taste the food…it’s like something you’ve never experienced before. Simple dishes with complex flavors, combining a comfort of familiarity and newness that sticks with you long after you’ve left the area. Pumpkin chicken enchiladas don’t sound very exciting, but they were fantastic. No amount of hyperbole and exaggeration can do this place justice. Just. Eat. There. It’s worth getting SFDS.

2. The Girl and the Fig – Sonoma, CA     The Girl & The Fig on Urbanspoon

Pork Chop Girl and the Fig

A lot of people use the word “best” to describe a lot of meals they eat (myself guilty of this as well). In reality, this description of “best” is more accurately defined as “this is pretty good and the best [blank] I’ve had since that last best [blank] I had a couple weeks ago.” With that preface, I want to declare that in this instance, the pork chop I ate at The Girl and the Fig was THE BEST I HAVE EVER HAD AND WILL LIKELY EVER EAT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I considered giving up pork for the sole fact that every other pork chop eaten after this one will only lead to disappointment and further worsen my SFDS. Oh and I almost forgot about the chocolate fig parfait aka Chocolate Heaven. And I didn’t think I even liked figs…

3. Wayfare Tavern – San Francisco, CA     Wayfare Tavern on Urbanspoon

Wayfare Tavern

We’re always too busy stuffing our face to get a pic of the food. This photograph was taken by our wedding photographer, Ryan Polei.

Aside from the strong sentimental attachment of Wayfare Tavern being the site of our first dinner as Mr. and Mrs., from the top of the menu to the bottom, everything we’ve eaten has delivered. Fried chicken? Crispy, moist, flavorful. Pop-overs? Perfect. Burrata? Excuse me, while I lick the plate. Wayfare Tavern was also the inspiration for our Peach Pie with Candied Rosemary. Oh and even something as simple as a freaking burger–and I’m going to use that word again, and I MEAN it–was the B-E-S-T we’ve ever had. If you needed any more convincing, we have a picture of the outside of this restaurant hanging in our living room. It’s basically the first thing you see when you walk in. We need help.

4.  Tony Tutto Pizza – Mill Valley, CA     Tony Tutto's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tony Tutto's Mill Valley

What better way to kick off a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, than by enjoying a fresh pie from Tony Tutto Pizza. Emphasis on the word fresh. We use that word on the east coast, but it does not mean what it means on the west coast. And yes this is a pizza place, but unlike most other cocky pizza places, it’s not about the pizza. The pizza just happens to be great, but when you eat a Tony Tutto pie you’re tasting each ingredient. You’re not eating a margherita pizza, you’re eating the tomatoes right off the vine and cheese straight from a cow. Yes, I know that’s not how cheese is made, but you get the idea…

5. Fish. – Sausalito, CA     Fish on Urbanspoon

Fish and Chips Sausalito

After a five-mile hike at Muir Beach, we were plenty hangry and not prepared to wait in what appeared to be a five-mile line at Fish. We toughed it out and became increasingly hangrier, but when the food came, nirvana was achieved. Beautiful fish and chips. A Vietnamese-style salmon sandwich exploding with flavor. It was the kind of meal that makes your worries disappear. We didn’t care that we were tired and sweaty. We didn’t care that the only table available was in direct sunlight, shooting UV rays into our eyeballs. We didn’t care that we might have been illegally parked. All we cared about was that the seafood was fresh, delicious, and in our moufs.

***

Unfortunately, writing this post has made our case of San Francisco Deficiency Syndrome even worse. To prevent the risk of further infection and potential hospitalization we are currently in the process of planning a trip back this summer.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll eventually find a cure.

Standard
Recipes

Homemade Coffee Butter

Coffee Butter

Raise your glasses (or water bottles, or coffee cups–just raise whatever drinking vessels you have). I’d like to propose a toast to toast.

Yes, TOAST.

Coffee Butter Ingredients

Think about it:  Toast is likely near the bottom of the Food Pyramid of Awesomeness (patent pending). Toast is boring. Toast barely has any flavor. Toast occurs in many instances as a way to tolerate stale bread. And aside from a small cult following for #BreadSelfies, it isn’t very popular within the #foodporn industry.

What toast does have going for it, though, is that it is a completely blank canvas for which you can paint any flavor your palate desires.

There are lots of toast canvas media to choose from  (jams, preserves, and jellies), but what if I want more of a creamy, unctuous topping that is not comprised of mostly sugar-infused gelatin? Yes, Flavored Butter, please stand up.

Coffee Butter Cream

I enjoy flavored butters and I don’t think they get as many accolades as they should. Sure, honey butter is pretty common and is deliciously spread upon rolls at many holiday meals. And there seemed to be a pretty big push for strawberry butter on all the food blogs in 2014. But why aren’t flavored butters a household name, yet? Why doesn’t my local Target have its own flavored butter aisle?!

Coffee Butter Cream

Luckily, making a flavored butter is about as easy as making toast, so there’s no need to place reliance on any grocery stores.

When I think of butter (flavored or otherwise) and toast, I immediately think of breakfast. And with that word association continued one more level, I end up at “coffee.” Of course! Homemade Coffee Butter.

Coffee Butter Sugar Cream

The more I enjoy locally roasted coffee from the likes of Monument Coffee Roasters and Caffè Amouri, the more I realize how much better the coffee tastes the first few days. Since we aren’t daily coffee drinkers, this results in a lot of perfectly good, but not at it’s peak, coffee lying around our kitchen. So we’re constantly looking for things to put the spare beans in (like Coffee-Infused Doughnut French Toast).

Besides, coffee butter has all the same components of a regular cup of coffee: coffee, cream, and sugar (albeit at different ratios).

Coffee Butter

You could probably just blend store-bought butter and ground coffee and be done with it, but homemade butter is so ridiculously easy to make, that it’s worth the extra step. Besides, if all we’re doing is telling you to mix butter and coffee together, we might as well just give you instruction on how to make toast.

Coffee Butter

So, break out the coffee butter, bread and a toaster, channel your inner Van Gogh (minus the ear removal stuff) and make a masterpiece for breakfast.

Then shove that masterpiece into your mouf.

HOMEMADE COFFEE BUTTER

  • 1/2 Cup Coarsely Ground Coffee
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • Cheesecloth
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  1. For our coffee we used a 50/50 mixture of Caffè Amouri’s Dutchess blend and Monument Coffee Roasters‘ Kenyan Lenana beans.
  2. Mix coffee grounds with heavy cream and store in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 8 hours).
  3. Strain coffee-cream mixture with cheesecloth, squeezing out all the creamy goodness.
  4. Pour the mixture into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, then add the sugar and salt.
  5. Turn the food processor on and let churn until the butter separates from the buttermilk (you’ll hear it sloshing around after about 45-60 seconds).
  6. Drain the buttermilk and remove the butter, forming into a ball. Squeeze out all of the buttermilk from your ball of butter, whilst rinsing in cold running water. Make sure to get all of the buttermilk out of the butter, or else it will RUIN your butter by making it sour.
  7. Since coffee works both in savory and sweet forms, taste your butter and feel free to add more salt or sugar to your liking. Store in the refrigerator in your favorite shallow dish.
  8. Serve on toast or pound cake, then insert into your mouf.

Coffee Butter

FUN FACT:  We made this the same day that I finally tried Bulletproof Coffee. Thus, 90% of my food consumption that day was comprised of butter and coffee.

 

Standard
Holiday, Recipes

2014 New Year’s Eve Menu

New Year's Eve Menu 2014

Hello, 2015. Pleasure to meet you.

Taking a quick break from breaking down cardboard boxes (thanks, Amazon!) and putting Ikea furniture together to do our first post of 2015. In our last post we shared our New Year’s Eve tablescape along with a PDF template for our food tent cards. Now let’s get to the foooooooooooood! Here’s a look at what we ate during the final hours of 2014 (and also the first few hours of 2015).

Sausage Bites

Sausage Bites Bon Appetit

These are are our take on Bon Appétit’s Pigs in Sleeping Bags. Rather than make our own sausage, we used a chicken sausage with spinach and feta from Wegmans. These might be my favorite of the lot and are normally the reason for our first empty plate of the night. They are much better hot, but they’re not too shabby cold at 2 AM, either.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

If you follow us on Twitter, you know that we make deviled eggs for pretty much every occasion (and many times for no reason at all). We used our classic deviled egg recipe, spiked with Sriracha and dusted with cayenne. After staying up late many times to make these eggs, it’s nice to finally eat them late at night.

Mini Mac ‘N’ Cheese (#glutenfree)

mac n cheese bites

Because it’s more fun to eat mac ‘n’ cheese with your hands, this Easy Mac and Cheese Muffins recipe from Allrecipes.com made several appearances in our house during 2014. Also, these are baked in a muffin pan to facilitate maximum crispy-edge-ness. We modified the recipe by skipping the breadcrumbs and used a gluten-free elbow pasta from Barilla. Oddly enough they actually turned out better than gluten-full pasta, as the edges were even crispier than normal. We also added a dash of nutmeg for fun. It’s a great base recipe to tweak (each time we change up some part of it), so feel free use your favorite cheeses or even add some spices to your liking. We do want to warn that these don’t quite hold up as a leftover, so be sure to eat all of them the day they’re made.

Caprese Bites

caprese bites

In a world full of heavy, meaty, carby appetizers, these Caprese Bites are here to add a bit of freshness to the table. A classic italian combination of tomato, basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar made party-ready with a toothpick. Our secret weapon is Acetum Blaze Glaze, which is basically a pre-reduced balsamic glaze that will save you hours over the stove reducing vinegar. Definitely worth keeping a bottle around for balsamic emergencies.

Mini Chicken & Waffles

Mini chicken & waffles

Wanna trick your mouf into thinking you’re at Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, but don’t feel like jumping on a plane to L.A? Here’s the secret: Mini Eggo Waffles and Chic-fil-A nuggets. (Chicken from Popeyes would also probably work fantastically.) You could go all homemade if you want, but then you wouldn’t have time to make anything else. There are tons of variations on this appetizer, but we serve ours with a blend of pure maple syrup, Log Cabin syrup (for texture), and Sriracha for a small kick.

Spinach & Kale Bites

Trader Joe's Spinach Kale Bites

This is a small cheat, as these are frozen and are supplied by Trader Joe’s. They’re pretty good when they’re hot, but be sure to re-heat for guests, as they’re not so good at room temp.

White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies

white chocolate & cranberry cookies

These cookies have become a holiday staple in our family. It’s unfortunate, because I don’t really like white chocolate all that much. However, it’s a crowd favorite that ends up on all their Christmas wish lists, so we make a couple batches in early december and freeze the pre-formed dough to ensure we’re fully-stocked and ready to bake throughout the season. The recipe is written down on a scrap of paper from my mom, so who knows where it originally came from. It’s a fairly standard cookie nowadays, so take your pick from Google.

Cheesecake Bites

cheesecake raspberry bites

Tina first saw this “recipe” on the mint love social club blog. The reason for the quotes around “recipe” is that there’s really no recipe other than cutting a frozen cheesecake into squares, adding a raspberry on each, then popping a thick toothpick in the middle. Seems a little too easy… After stuffing my face with salty snacks it’s nice to have a sweet, fruity, creamy bite. But don’t count how many you eat, as you don’t want to realize you just ate an entire cheesecake one bite at a time.

NYE 2014

We clearly ate well and this was for a small gathering of about five people. Just imagine if we had a full-blown par-tay…

Stupid Disclaimer: No compensation or free stuff was provided from anyone for this post. All references to websites, products, and/or brand names are done so because we actually use and like them.

Standard
Holiday

NYE Tablescape + Food Tent Card Template

New Year's Eve Tablescape

10 … 9 … 8 … 7 … 6 … 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1!

We were originally hoping to have a a big, moderately crazy New Year’s Eve party–one that would make our HOA’s Facebook page explode with passive aggressive complaints–but, unfortunately holiday fatigue (meant as a joke, but it’s a real thing!) and an epic flu knocking out most of our family forced us to scale things back to “small gathering” level.

Food Tent Card

Even though the party has shrunk, that doesn’t mean the decor will be reduced to red solo cups and leftover Chipotle napkins. Tina knocked it out of the park with the decorations, transforming our humble Ikea dining table into something fit for Stefan Löfven (the Prime Minister of Sweden).

New Year's Eve Decorations

It’s the simple touches that help class things up a bit. The food isn’t anything outlandishly fancy (we’ll share our menu in tomorrow’s post), but each item has its own tent card! Our mini mac ‘n’ cheese might as well be wearing tuxedos. Aside from looking like a White House gala, it’s useful so your guests know what they’re putting in their moufs. ‘Cause nobody wants to start the new year with a lawsuit over a peanut allergy.

Food Tent Card

Being married to a graphic designer has its perks. For example, while Tina slaved away setting up these cards, I got to play her brother in Madden (I lost in overtime with one second remaining; it was a game we will all remember for a long time). Since all the hard work was done, we figured it might be beneficial to extend the perk to the blog in case anyone else out there is looking for a quick tent card solution. So, follow the directions below and in just a few short minutes, your food will no longer be anonymous.

NEW YEAR’S EVE FOOD TENT CARDS:

  • Ostrich Sans Bold Font – You don’t have to use this font, but it gets a ton of use in our house. You can download it free from FontSquirrel.com. If you’ve never installed a font before, it’s ridiculously easy and Google will be happy to help you out. Seriously, stop using Calibri for everything and live a little.
  • Cardstock is preferable for printing, but regular printer paper will suffice in a pinch.
  • Food Tent Card TemplateClick here to download a PDF of the tent cards Tina made for our party. Make sure you download/install the Ostrich San Bold font first, then enter the food names on the second, fourth, and sixth rows and they’ll be mirrored in each row above (but, upside down since this is a double-sided tent card). Cut along the bold black lines, fold in half and BOOM. (Drop us a line if you have issues or need help!)

Food Tent Card

Oh, and…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Standard
Reviews

Tastemade Video: Pie Gourmet – Vienna, VA

tastemade

Does the world really need another food-related app?

Yes. Enter: Tastemade.

It’s a beautifully designed app that combines my two favorite things: Food and Video. Users (or Tastemakers as they call them) submit 1-minute videos of restaurants that they love. ONE MINUTE?! Anyone who’s ever edited video knows that editing one minute of footage can take an entire week, but luckily the app has some preset templates that do all the dirty work for you. Pick your theme, select your videos, and BOOM. Watch out, JJ Abrams.

I also like Tastemade, because it’s not set up as a review site, rather it promotes the idea of sharing only restaurants you truly enjoy. So, you’re not bogged down with all of the negativity that comes with some of those OTHER sites wrought with bitter restaurant reviewers.

Since I love pie (especially Peach Pie with Candied Rosemary and Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie) it was fitting to make a video about the greatest pie shop in the universe, Pie Gourmet in Vienna, VA. Seriously, ask Stephen Hawking, he knows about the universe and pi.

Check out my first video below (or click here if you prefer a gigantic screen).

Since I learned so much whilst making this short video and everything went smoothly without any hiccups (where is the sarcasm button?), I figured I should share some tips to help you be a master Tastemade filmmaker.

Tastemade Video Making Tips:

  • Start with a great screenplay.
  • Yell as loud as you can to make sure the camera microphone picks up your voice (and also to alert everyone around you that you are making a video).
  • Choose a restaurant that sells pie.
  • Find something stable to rest your phone on, like a moving vehicle. Aim for potholes.
  • Have a surprising third act twist.

***

Pie Gourmet Limited on Urbanspoon

Standard
Beyond the Food

Monument Coffee Roasters – Manassas, VA

momument coffee roasters

My first experience with coffee was from that notorious red can (you know which one). The constant drip of coffee was a staple in my grandparent’s house and I’m 90% sure it’s the only thing my grandfather ever drank. Although I doubt (as the jingle claimed) that it was the “best part of wakin’ up,” it was clearly vital fuel that he needed to get through early mornings and long days.

He drank it with enough milk and sugar that at five years old, I enjoyed it. Not enough to drink it every day (not that my mom would have let me), but it was a fond enough memory that I would carry into my teens when chain coffee shops started popping up in every corner.

coffee cup monument roaster

Good conversation over a cup of Monument’s Sumatra Karo Highlands.

Nearly twenty-five years after my first sip, I still enjoy my coffee with milk and sugar, but I’ve replaced the red can with coffee beans that were roasted the night before and trashed a drip coffee maker for an Aerobie Aeropress.

Clearly, coffee culture has changed a lot over the years, and Alycia & Ryan Otte couldn’t be happier. The Ottes just launched Monument Coffee Roasters, a small batch roasting company out of my hometown, Manassas, Virginia. (Spoiler Alert:  The coffee is good. REALLY good.)

raw coffee beans

Look at these beautiful raw coffee beans.

It’s probably no coincidence that the couple met at a coffee shop–specifically Alycia’s family’s shop in Oregon. Coffee has been a big part of their lives for many years and their goal has always been to open a roasting shop of their own; however, Ryan’s Coast Guard duties meant a lot of moving around. Tough to open a business, when you’re not sure how long you’re going to be living in a given location.

Eventually, though, they landed in Manassas as their final stop. And although the idea of having their own roasting company was always on their minds, it wasn’t until they began talking with friends in the community that they realized their dream may be set in motion sooner than they thought. They specifically mention BadWolf Brewing co-founder Jeremy Meyers, who urged the couple not to wait and to make their dreams a reality (as he had recently done with his craft brewery).

coffee roaster

This is where all the magic happens.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Manassas, it’s not what anyone would describe as…hip. Sure there are some good local restaurants in old town and a growing craft brewery scene, but other than that, you’re surrounded by chain restaurants and big box SUPERcenters.

It’s because of this that the Ottes saw an opportunity to educate the community and bring fresh roasted coffee to a market often skipped over by other innovative and passionate food entrepreneurs.

Education is key. Right now, it seems as though most coffee drinkers in Manassas and some of the surrounding suburbs consider only two factors: Convenience and familiarity. Convenience coming into play as we drive to work, since a coffee shop with a drive-thru is sometimes the only option we have time for. And given that coffee is more often viewed as simply a fuel, we look to grab a cup of what we know (hence the perpetual red can in my grandparent’s cabinet).

Monument Coffee Roasters

Coffee action shot! #flyingbeans

There are pockets and flashes of really great, local coffee roasters and shops around the U.S., but Manassas is still a pretty good representation of coffee culture in most of the country. It was only a few years ago that I experienced what truly delicious, fresh roasted coffee tasted like (thanks, Caffé Amouri!). It doesn’t just taste different from the bagged stuff at a super market or a chain shop, it tastes infinitely better, resulting in a realization of “Ohhh…so THIS is what coffee tastes like!”

What the Ottes are hoping for is that the coffee industry moves toward what has happened to craft beer. Tons of small breweries have popped up and allowed consumers to experiment and try new beers. Rather than sticking with a staple coffee company, the Ottes want to be a part of your rotation of coffee roasters. “You might like another shop’s Sumatra, but maybe our Kenyan is your favorite,” Ryan noted, pointing out that there are so many different factors involved with how coffee tastes that coffee drinkers should experiment with different brands, varietals, and brewing techniques.

Monument Coffee Roasters

My Kenyan Lenana is ALMOST ready…

They credit James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, for the inspiration. Freeman paved the way for small batch roasters, with his mission to only serve customers beans that had been roasted within the last 48 hours. And if you’ve never had coffee roasted that fresh, YES, YES, YES (a thousand times, YES) it does make a difference.

And it should make a difference, because roasting coffee ain’t easy. While talking to the Ottes in their roasting “laboratory” I quickly forgot the business is technically in the food industry and instead felt as though I was talking to scientists. They’re not making coffee, they’re trying to perfect it. With all the variables associated with a “finished” coffee bean–the location grown, roasting time, temperature, yellowing, the “cracks” and smells–roasting coffee takes hard work and a ton of trial and error. Aside from their decades of experience in the coffee industry as a whole, the two have been perfecting the Monument Coffee Roasters offerings for over a year.

coffee roasting chart

Although roasting can be done by smell, sight, and sound, this program helps document the process. Looks like math class, right?

Their coffee itself is single-origin Certified Fair Trade and Organic, sourced from South America, Africa, and Central America. They have several varieties currently available from their online store (the Kenyan Lenana made for an outstanding Aeropress latte). And they are very excited about their Brazilian Swiss Water decaf, which uses a non-chemical based method to decaffeinate the coffee beans, resulting in a decaf that doesn’t taste like most decafs.

Aside from their coffee being really good (did I mention that, already?), I get the impression that this is what they love to do. The Ottes’ veins are filled with coffee.  The saying goes “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” After talking with them and watching them roast coffee beans, I actually think that saying is incorrect. Because, in order to do what they love, they’re working all day every day to perfect it. And I’m thankful for what they’re doing, because, when I sneak coffee to my grandchildren, it’s going to be fresh roasted within 48 hours…but still laced with milk and sugar.

You can stay connected with Alycia and Ryan and their coffee roasting adventures on their website, monumentcoffeeroasters.com, on Facebook, and Twitter. Their brick-and-mortar shop is expected to open in early 2015, but until then you can buy coffee from their website (seriously, DO IT!). I certainly can’t wait to use their beans to make some more Coffee-Infused Doughnut French Toast.

Monument Coffee Roasters

The new best part of wakin’ up.

 

 

Standard
Recipes

Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

I have two confessions to make, but first let’s talk about pumpkins. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE.

I don’t even need to use a calender in the fall, because I can gauge how far into November we’re in solely based on how much pumpkin per day I’m exposed to. I’m staring at one on my desk right now! And Pinterest might as well just change its name to Pumpkinterest during November.

I really really really really really want to hate the pumpkin. I desperately want to be “too cool for school” and shrug off this ubiquitous squatty squash. But I can’t, because I freaking love pumpkin pie!

Sugar and Spices for Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

Think about it:  It’s one of the few desserts that can actually stand up to Thanksgiving Day dinner. It’s lead-in is possibly the greatest meal of the year and yet despite this, we unbutton our pants, take a power-nap, and burp to make room for a slice of this king of Turkey Day desserts. Thinking about it from a performance perspective, that’s like having to go on stage after Journey! And you truly don’t stop believin’ that you can eat more food.

Okay, enough stalling, here’s the first confession:  I hated pumpkin pie as a child. I always opted to skip the pie for another helping of carbs and meat covered in gravy. I was dumb little boy.

At some point I did learn to love it, but thinking back to my Pumpkin Pie Timeline, I don’t even remember when that occured. It was probably in the early 2000’s, but I can’t find the diary entry that addresses it, so we’ll say for argument’s sake that I’ve only really liked pumpkin pie for the last half of my life. Yup, fifteen wasted years.

Canned Pumpkin for Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

Wet and Dry Ingredients for Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

Anyway, I do remember THE pumpkin pie that left the most impact on my tastebuds. THE pie that stood sat atop a pumpkin pie throne surveying all the other pumpkin pies in its kingdom. It’s THE pie that I had long considered my favorite pumpkin pie. This is where the second confession comes into play. It’s actually very embarrassing to admit where this pie came from. And at this point, as I’m typing, I’m trying to think of a different angle for this post, so I don’t have to put it down in writing.

Up until recently, my favorite pumpkin pie was from the Bob Evans chain restaurant. I know…

Pie Crust for Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

It was a simple, tasty pumpkin pie at a reasonable price. It’s highly possible that I had never actually been exposed to a homemade pumpkin pie before. It’s also possible that I was just too young and stupid to try any homemade pumpkin pie put in front of me. There’s clearly someone at fault here and it’s probably my younger self.

Filling Collage - Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

It’s almost Thanksgiving. We have a food blog. I cannot have my favorite pumpkin pie be from Bob Evan’s. Sorry, Bob. You have a good last name (comprised of an amazing first name), but your pie has ruled my pumpkin kingdom for long enough. Today, we have elected a new pumpkin pie king: Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie.

Fresh out of the Oven - Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

Whipped Cream for Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

When we decided to dive into the already over-saturated pumpkin pie recipe stratosphere, we made a list of stuff that we wanted to incorporate and exclude based on our own tastes. Pumpkin lends itself nicely to heat, so chipotle and cayenne add a little bit of a kick, which is balanced by the fresh whipped cream on top. So, leave the Cool Whip and canned stuff at the supermarket, cause this pie brings it’s own cream. We used the same Ina Garten work-horse crust as we did for our Peach Pie with Candied Rosemary.

It’s too bold to say it’s the best pumpkin pie in the world, but it is definitely my new favorite. Goodbye forever, Bob.

Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

CHIPOTLE PUMPKIN CREAM PIE

Pie Crust (Ina Garten’s Perfect Pie Crust from Foodnetwork.com):

  • 6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) SUPER COLD Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  •  2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons COLD Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 4-6 Tablespoons Ice Water

Pie Filling

  • 1 15oz can pure pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. For the crust: We’re no strangers to Ina Garten’s recipes and her “Perfect Pie Crust” is definitely a winner. Consistent, tasty, and most of all easy. If you’re looking for a flaky, no fuss pie crust Ina’s will certainly serve you well.
  2. For the filling: Mix together pumpkin, milk, and eggs. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  3. For the pie:  Preheat oven to 425°. Place the crust in a 9-inch pie pan (preferably glass), leaving about a half inch over the edges for crimping. Pour pumpkin filling into the crust and gently pound on counter to release any air bubbles in the filling. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350° for 40 – 50 minutes, or until filling has set and crust is a nice golden brown.  Let cool for approximately 3 hours.
  4. For the whipped cream topping:  After the pie is cool, go ahead and make the topping by whipping the heavy cream in a stand mixer (or handheld, or food processor, or by hand with a whisk if you have muscles). As the cream starts to whip, add the confectioner’s sugar, cream of tartar, and vanilla. Whip the hell out of it, until just before it looks like it’s going to turn into butter.
  5. Use a piping bag and your favorite tip to make the whipped cream look all pretty on top of the pie. Don’t have that fancy stuff? Then, place a large dollop of whipped cream on top and smooth out.
  6. Serve immediately or refrigerate to let the pie set and get colder (if you prefer). Garnish each slice with a dusting of cinnamon.

Chipotle Pumpkin Cream Pie

 

Standard
Mouf Links

Mouf Links: Travel Edition

MOUF links

Although this is mostly a food blog, you can’t find great food without a bit of traveling. With the travel bug still in our systems from our recent California trip, we figured it would be a good idea to share a few travel-related links. The recipe is simple: Click the links. Travel. Find food. Eat. Mouf is happy.

1.  Trippy.com
No, this isn’t an online store that sells hallucinogenic mushrooms. Trippy is a travel-based social media site designed to connect travelers around the world in a user-friendly Q&A style site. Expert travelers also engage with the community, so your travel question may be answered by the likes of Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain. The design is clean and site allows you to integrate maps, links, and pictures in your answers, resulting in a rich, intuitive design that will be your new BFF in travel. Seriously, this site makes that other advisory travel site look like an old Buick station wagon.

2. The Dining Traveler Blog
Our DC #Foodiechats friend, Jessica van Dop DeJesus recently re-branded her travel blog from the DC Repatriate to The Dining Traveler. Go check out her new site, packed with travel and food info from not only her current home in Washington, DC, but also other places like New York City, Chicago, Belgium, Germany, Australia, and especially her childhood home, Puerto Rico. And if you’re planning a trip to Washington, DC, feel free connect with her on Twitter for some advice from a local (she’s pretty much eaten at EVERY great restaurant in DC). WARNING:  When you visit her website, you will become extremely jealous of all the beautiful places she’s visited and delicious food she’s eaten. 

3.  Lowepro StreamLine 250 Camera Bag
I’ve been using this camera bag for the last year and it’s graduated (with honors) into an all-purpose travel bag. Since it’s supposed to hold all your camera goodies, there are lots of nooks and small pockets for batteries, lenses, etc. I’ve found it works great as your “one personal item” for flights since it easily holds an iPad, magazine, plane snacks, headphones, and anything else you might need to help you forget you’re stuck on a plane for hours. You can even squeeze in a 13-inch Macbook if you don’t mind not being able to zip it up.  For those of you traveling with mushrooms, the small front pockets should work wonderfully. This little guy is also perfect for hiking since you can tote around some camera stuff, with plenty of room for a bottle of water and a burrito. Yes, a burrito. What do YOU pack on your hikes? (I’m not getting paid to write this and I actually bought the bag with my own money. I really like it.)

4. Costco Travel + Alamo
There are lots of travel packages and deals you can find on the Costco Travel site, but I’ve never actually used them. I’m sure they’re fine, but what I do use almost every trip is the rental car section. If you travel and rent a car (even just a couple times each year), it’s worth it to become a Costco member. The deals are always the best and the booking process is fantastic since you don’t have to pay upfront and you can cancel at any time.  I may save it for another, longer post, but Alamo is the company I always try to use since they have check-in kiosks (yay, no human interaction!) and they let you physically walk around and pick out your own car at most locations. When you combine Costco and Alamo, renting a car is smoother than room temperature butter. (Again, not paid to say any of this. I mean, come on, like Costco is going to pay to be on this silly little blog.)

5. Alton Browncast Episode #43:  Samantha Brown
Fill your ear-moufs with this podcast full of tips and stories from the undisputed queen of travel, Samatha Brown. She’s been around the block (or globe) more than a few times, so heed her advice with more than a grain of salt. I specifically enjoyed her explanation of why taking a simple walk can help open up your travel experience to something beyond tourist traps. Not to mention, Alton Brown is as good of an interviewer as he is a devious Cutthroat Kitchen host.

Standard
Travel

Six Things We Miss About San Diego

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Reserve

What?! San Diego is awesome? Breaking news, I know. But, we’ve been to the ol’ Sandy Eggo three times in the last fifteen months and we’re never ready to leave. The weather is perfect, traffic is minimal, you’re never more than 30 minutes away from a good time, and the FOOD. OH, THE FOOD. And, it’s cheap. The ratio of deliciousness to inexpensive is probably the highest in the U.S. Look it up in the census stats, it’s in there.

I also highly recommend buddying up to a local, as we’d probably end up eating at an Applebee’s* if it wasn’t for our friends Mike and Ashley. It’s like having our own personal food tour guides and surf instructor. Speaking of which, if you enjoy witty and sometimes sarcastic writing (which is why you’re here, right?), check out Mike’s surf blog, The Flying Peanut. Warning: It will make you want to quit your day job, move to San Diego, and learn how to surf.

Yeah, so picking five things wasn’t easy…so we picked six.

1. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood     Oscar's Mexican Seafood on Urbanspoon

Oscar's Mexican Seafood

Spicy Shrimp Tacos from Oscar’s. Yeah, this was from the second round of ordering. Should’ve gone back for a third…

If you’re looking for a reason to visit San Diego, I’ll give you two: The smoked fish taco and spicy shrimp taco from Oscar’s Mexican Seafood. They are not good. Nor are they great. The only way to describe them would be LEGENDARY. They are the type of tacos you will weave into the lore you tell your great grand children; and while you’ll most likely exaggerate your own amazing feats, you will not need to use any hyperbole with these two corn tortillas filled with magic. As we chowed down on these tacos during our final hours on the West Coast, I put some serious thought into how I could bring a dozen of them home with us on the plane. And although I couldn’t figure out a sanitary way to accomplish that feat, at least I was left with the fond memories of fish, shrimp, cheese, cabbage, pico de gallo, and avocado on a fresh made corn tortilla, topped with habanero crema. This restaurant is the sole reason why my Realtor.com app has a lot of recent “San Diego” searches.

2. Staying at the Secluded Studio with Canyon View (Airbnb.com)

Airbnb Canyon View

Waking up to this sure beat the cookie-cutter town houses we see at home.

We have found our unofficial second home in San Diego. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, the Secluded Studio with Canyon View in San Diego is a great place to start (click here for $50 off your first Airbnb trip!). Aside from being a clean, bright space with beautiful canyon views from the balcony, the location is perfect and is just a short 5-10 minute drive to all of the restaurants on this list. It’s great if you want to avoid the crowded beaches and packed downtown area, while still being pretty close to everything. You’ll feel like you’re staying with family, as the hosts provided us with bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, tea, coffee, milk, and juice. As much as I enjoy maximizing our food adventures by eating breakfast out, it was nice to enjoy a bagel and coffee, whilst sitting on the balcony over-looking the canyon.

3. Working on a Food Truck for Animals

Giraffe San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I found our next pet!

As much fun as it is to feed ourselves, feeding giraffes and rhinos at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was pretty freaking cool. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a giraffe?! They make human eyes look like garbage disposal sludge. And rhinos are just like giant puppies who have horns and could kill you if they wanted, but they won’t ’cause you’re on a truck and they LOVE apples. Spend the extra money for the Caravan Safari and make friends with some wild beasts.

4. El Zarape Restaurant     El Zarape Mexican on Urbanspoon

El Zarape California Burrito

California Burrito from El Zarape. Notice the holy trinity of hot sauces.

This hole-in-the-wall-ish restaurant is exactly the type of place you’d expect to find a solid Mexican meal. Although it might not have won any burrito awards, I have a sentimental attachment. I’m going to get a little mushy here, so get out the tissues and crank up the Journey. El Zarape was the site of…sorry, I’m tearing up a bit here…it was where I had my first California Burrito. I feel like I should mail them an anniversary card every year. I seriously crave this place at least once a month and the pain is compounded by the fact that California Burritos cannot be found anywhere in Northern VA or DC. It’s not a difficult food product to make, but for some reason it’s a freaking unicorn out here. So, to be safe you better eat at least two while you’re there.

5. Coin-Op Game Room     Coin-Op Game Room on Urbanspoon

Coin-op Game Room San Diego

Here’s to my dead homie, Michelangelo.

Barcades aren’t specific to San Diego, but we had a good time drinking and time traveling back to the 90s at Coin-Op Game Room. The beers and drinks were top notch, bartenders were friendly, and they had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! And it’s the only place that encourages drinking and driving (MarioKart, of course). Just stay out of the way of the pinball masters. They do NOT mess around.

6. Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream     Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

Front Row: lychee, chocolate orange, peanut butter and guava jelly. Back Row: toasted coconut, peanut butter brownie, lemon cream

You know how when you go to an ice cream shop and you try a bunch of flavors and then you have to settle on just one or two? Well, Hammond’s has solved this problem with…(drum roll)…Ice cream flights! Hell yes. Choose up to six flavors, each small scoop is perched on its own mini cone for you to enjoy. It even comes on a cool stand that looks like it was designed by Apple. I don’t know why every ice cream shop in America isn’t stealing this idea.

*Just kidding, we will never eat at Applebee’s. Sorry, John Corbett.

Standard