Monday, October 29, 2012

Pizza Blanca

There's a lovely little restaurant in Ypsilanti called Tower Inn. Hordes of Eastern Michigan University students crowd its wooden booths every night, munching on enormous chapatis, delectable burgers and an absolutely AMAZING pizza called Pizza Blanca. 
I can personally attest to the fact that I've been to this restaurant multiple times, but never been able to wean my tastebuds off of Pizza Blanca to give anything else on the menu a try.
Naturally, I get my Pizza Blanca cravings every now and then, but don't have the time or willpower to drive to another city to retrieve it (and for some abominable reason, they don't deliver that far....)
Fortunately, I figured out how to make a homemade version that's just as delicious.

To make your own Pizza Blanca, grab these ingredients:

1 ball pizza dough (store bought if you're on a time crunch, or make your own following this recipe
2 chicken breasts
1 broccoli crown
alfredo sauce
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
fresh mozzarella cheese
Italian seasoning

If you made your own dough using the link provided, preheat your oven to 430 degrees F. If you're using store bought dough, follow the instructions on the package.

Start off by chopping your chicken into 1-inch cubes and liberally seasoning them with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Saute them in a pan until golden-brown.

While your chicken is cooking, put your broccoli in a pot of boiling water and cook until bright green. Be careful not to overcook - the broccoli should still have some crunch to it.

Finally, microwave your bacon until crispy. Make an additional strip for yourself to munch on while you layer your ingredients.

Roll out your pizza dough into a square. Add enough alfredo sauce to cover the surface of your pizza, without being too overbearing. Grate a layer of mozzarella cheese over the top. Sprinkle your chicken, broccoli, bacon, onion, and garlic across your pizza, then top with an additional layer of mozzarella (you really can't go wrong with extra cheese - just sayin'). Top with salt and pepper.

Once again, if you're using the dough recipe provided, cook for 12-15 minutes, and follow the recipe of the store bought package if you're using store bought dough. But a helpful rule of thumb either way is to remove the pizza when the edges are crispy and golden.

Enjoy your salty cheesy pizza!
(And head over to Tower if you have the chance and want to try the original!)


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Candy Apples

When I was a kid, Halloween was my absolute favorite holiday. I was obsessed with scary stories, ghosts, witches and anything to do with the paranormal. As a result, I also hoarded everything with a Halloween theme - videotaped Halloween specials of my favorite shows, Winnie-the-Pooh Halloween VHS tapes and Halloween storybooks. Kind of morbid for a child, but I guess you could say I was bored by real life and fascinated by the idea of magic.
In some of my favorite books and movies, the characters celebrated Halloween by making and eating candy apples. 

Bright red, beautiful and tempting. Plus, this recipe packs some extra fall flavor by using cloves to spice up the glaze!
To make some of these for yourself (or your Halloween guests), grab these ingredients:

6 apples (try to mix and match whichever flavors you like best)
6 wooden skewers or popsicle sticks
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
red food coloring

Start by washing your apples and removing all the stems and stickers. Be sure to dry them!

Next, poke your skewers into the tops of the apples.

Combine your water, sugar and corn syrup into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let the mixture heat on medium for awhile, until it reaches around 300 degrees. A good way to check if your mixture is hot enough is to drop a bit of it into a bowl of water and seeing if it hardens and crackles.
Then, mix in your sweetened condensed milk.  You should have a frothy, bubbly mixture like this:

Finally, add your cloves and food coloring. Grabbing your apples by the skewer, dip and roll them in the candy coating, then place them on a baking sheet to dry.

On a side note - don't save cleanup for later when making this recipe! The sugar coating hardens really quickly, so your best way to an easy cleanup is to scrape out whatever sugary residue is leftover in the saucepan, then run it under steaming hot water. Once it dries, it's very difficult to remove!

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Babo Market

Yesterday, between classes, I hopped over to Babo, a market beneath 411 Lofts with Mallory. An experienced baker, she was looking to gather some ingredients for a few new scone recipes.
In the meantime, I thought I'd peruse the market's latest selection of meats, cheeses and freshly prepared foods. 
I've only been to Babo once before, but every single time I'm in awe of all the specialty and unique foods they serve.

This chickpea salad looked exceptionally phenomenal - I sense a new recipe in the mix!

As I perused, Mallory flitted in and out of the shelves gathering all of the ingredients she needed.

While I didn't originally plan on buying anything, I was distracted by the delicious coffee station - and ultimately tempted into buying a cup of Turkish Coffee when I saw it on their menu for a measly $2.

Despite the numerous delicious coffee shops to be found in Ann Arbor, I've been unpleasantly surprised to find that none of them serve Turkish Cofffee. For those of you who have never tried it before, Turkish Coffee is similar to espresso - super finely ground beans are used to produce a small, rich and very dark cup of coffee (with a hint of sweetness).

Their cream and sugar station is absolutely adorable, but I didn't want to ruin the steaming cup of coffee with anything cold.

Babo also has an extensive wine selection - which I assume I never noticed before because my under-21 eyes forbid me from paying too much attention to things I couldn't obtain.

Now, I know Babo is a pricier market than your average Meijer, but I'm wondering how much profit this place could really be making selling $60 and $70 bottles of wine to college students....

I'll definitely be coming back to grab a bottle of this pumpkin patch ale - so perfect for fall!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Bananas

Nowadays, it's rare to find someone who isn't watching their weight. Someone who doesn't have little rules they set for themselves about when and what they're allowed to put into their mouths.
I, too, have been guilty of this folly from time to time. And my biggest cheat is to throw in a vegetable or a fruit and call it healthy.
Oh, a pile fried eggplant smothered in cheese? It's a vegetable, so it's healthy.
Oh, this caramel apple covered in chocolate, M&Ms and graham crackers? It's fruit, so it's healthy.
Let's not kid ourselves, folks.
That's why I'll openly start out by admitting that despite the fruit content, this recipe is unapologetically not healthy.
It's just delicious.

Now, I don't want to limit your creativity here, so don't feel like these are the only toppings you can use. BUT, if you want to recreate the chocolate monsters I made here, grab these ingredients:

1 banana
1 handfull chocolate chips
tin foil

Start by laying your banana flat on its side. Tear off a piece of the peel so that when the banana lies flat, its flesh is exposed upwards. 
Next, slather on some Nutella. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, marshmallows, or whatever else you see fit for your treat. 
Wrap the whole thing in tinfoil and stick it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes.
When it's done, you'll have an ooey gooey mushy warm banana covered in melty chocolate chips and warm Nutella.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Marnee Thai

Every now and then, I get the strong craving for Thai food. Generally fried rice, dotted with egg and carrots, seasoned with that special mix of flavors that I'll never be able to recreate in my wildest dreams. And while No Thai will always have a special place in my heart, for all it's oily and delicious goodness, it's not healthy enough for me to eat as often as my cravings come about.
Fortunately, I found a new outlet for my addiction - Marnee Thai.

The last in a line of restaurants on Main Street, Marnee Thai takes up the bottom floor of a large office building. I was intrigued by its menu, further allured by the smell as soon as I walked in and completely sold on the taste.

You can't go wrong with a mixed appetizer plate at a new restaurant. This one included generous portions of chicken and beef satay, jumbo juicy fried shrimp, fish cakes and spring rolls.

The fish cakes were my favorite.

For the main dish, I had to give in to my craving and get the Kow Pad - essentially a fancy version of chicken fried rice. I certainly wasn't expecting the culinary display that I got on my plate.

A giant mound of delicious fried rice, dressed up with carrots, green onions and a lime wedge. Notice the coloring of the rice - just fried enough to have taste, but not weighed down by fatty oils that will make you regret your meal later. And they were certainly generous with the egg and chicken!

Another standout dish was the shrimp stir-fry.

Served with a hefty bowl of white rice, of course.

I was too full to stomach one of the gigantic bowls of soup that I saw coming out of the kitchen, but they certainly looked and smelled amazing. If anyone else has tried the soup, let me know which one you liked!

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