Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

I remember being younger and despising the taste of pumpkin pie. I just didn’t understand why anyone would eat a pumpkin pie instead of a sweet potato pie. Maybe it was due to the sweeter flavor of sweet potato? Or lack of a cultured palette? Who knows, but needless to say I fell in love with sweet potato pie at a very young age. We all know I now adore the flavor of pumpkin but a pumpkin pie has nothing on a sweet potato pie.

I attempted my first sweet potato pie during my senior year of college. I called my Aunt Gina who at that time sold her sweet potato pies. Oh yeah. They were that good! I called and asked her how to make it but she couldn’t tell me exact amounts. She told me to just add it until you like the flavor. Let’s just say that pie was not that great. Haha!

After years of tweaking the recipe, I finally have a solid sweet potato pie. In this recipe I added a pecan pie topping. I couldn’t decide which type of pie I wanted so I combined them. This pie is right on time for the holiday.

Ingredients

Pie:
1 deep dish prepared pie crust
2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of salt

Pecan topping:
3 eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon butter, melted
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

1. Roast the sweet potatoes , whole with the skin on in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Once the potatoes are removed, change the oven temperature to 350. Once the potatoes are cool, remove the skin and beat the potatoes until smooth. IMPORTANT NOTE: the potato threads are the absolute worst in a pie. You will need to remove the threads as you beat the potatoes. Using a hand mixer, beat the potatoes for thirty seconds at a time and remove the threads after each round. Repeat this three times.

2. Add the rest of the pie ingredients and beat for another two minutes or so until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

3. Pour the sweet potato mixture in the pie pan until it’s about two-thirds full.

4. Mix the pecan topping ingredients together until well blended.

5. Pour the pecan topping on the sweet potato pie just until it reaches the top, making sure not to overfill.

6. Bake the pie at 350 for 50 minutes, until set. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Empanadas

There is something about food wrapped in dough that speaks to the stomach of humans. When I think of these foods I immediately think comfort. Who doesn’t love a donut or a turnover? According to the Baltimore Sun, the average person eats about 63 donuts per year. Why? Because they are awesome! Fitness buffs you may want to cover your eyes on this post. Let’s take our obsession with being the skinniest person in the room away and think about foods that actually taste good. There is always some form of dough on that list.

Empanadas are one of the most versatile foods consumed globally. Almost every country has a version of an empanada. Jamaica has beef patties, Italy has strombolis, and Germany has strudels. It’s safe to say that humans love food wrapped in dough.

Now that I’ve convinced everyone that empanadas are a big deal, let’s talk about what I’ve tried and will try soon.

1. Dos Segundos

This Mexican spot is one of the many popular restaurants in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. They have great drinks and is always full. Ive been here a handful of times and always get the black bean empanadas. This empanada is their vegetarian version and is made with black beans, plantains, and queso fresco, served with a side of sour cream. I love that they thought of our veggie lovers when creating their menu.

IMG_3218

Black Bean Empanadas

IMG_3219

Yummy goodness

2. Bahama Breeze

One of the few chains I patronize… I usually eat here in celebration of a friend’s birthday. It’s a fun atmosphere that takes you to your favorite island. A live signer is always belting out Caribbean music and playing the steel drums. I always get the same thing at Bahama Breeze as well. The beef empanadas with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. They serve them with a yummy yogurt dipping sauce.

photo1 (2)

Beef Empanadas

photo3

Looks like curry, onions, beef, carrots, and potatoes

3. Tierra Columbiana

I will be visiting Tierra to try their empanadas. They are located in the North section of Philly. They have four different kinds: cheese, beef and potato, shrimp, and crab. My mouth is watering at the thought. So excited to try them all! I am also excited to try the other items on the menu.

Photos courtesy of Yelp…

4. Mystery location

I am visiting friends this weekend who live in New York and they have agreed to make reservations at a restaurant that features empanadas. Excitement!

More to come…

Pizza: Reviews

Its safe to say I consumed more pizza in the last month than I’ve eaten in the last 6 months. Well, maybe not, but the point is a whole lot of pizza has been consumed! Even though I visited a good deal of pizzeria’s, there are still a number of places that I have yet to try. This mission will be ongoing, so as I taste, I will update the blog.

1. Jules Thin Crust

I really wanted to find good pizza close to my home. I drive past Jules all the time and never stopped in to try their thin crust pizza. Jules prides itself on quality ingredients. They serve mostly organic and all natural ingredients. We decided to order a pizza to-go on a Sunday evening for dinner. We ordered Kim’s pie(roasted 100% natural chicken, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella, balsamic bbq sauce, chives). The flavor combination was nice but it was not a reason to phone your mom back home. I was telling my friends about the visit and my friend Marsharelle mentioned that I shouldve tried the pizza while dining in.Totally different experience in her opinion. Perhaps. We will table this place for a while. I do however appreciate the quality ingredients they use.

Image

2. Bar Lucca

This place is a forgotten gem. My sister was in the Conshohocken area and called me to meet up for lunch. As usual, she left it up to me to pick the place and as usual I was undecided. I finally chose Bar Lucca in an effort to perform “research and development” for my blog(someone’s gotta to do the dirty work). We ordered the margherita pizza and a strawberry and prosciutto salad. It wasnt until the pizza came out that I remembered why I loved this place so much. The chili oil! Every pizza comes with chili oil and fresh herbs on the side. The little things! The oil is just spicy enough to compliment the creaminess of the pizza. If you are in the Conshy area and are craving pizza, this is your place!

Image

3. Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

I wanted to try this place for quite some time but another restaurant always distracted me. In another effort to find a pizzeria that is closer to my home than one that is located in downtown Philly, I gave this place a try. I am happy I did! This pizza is very filling. I can easily eat 2-3 slices depending on the size of the pizza. I had 1 slice of the broccoli rabe and sausage pizza and was stuffed. My only gripe about this pizza was the crust. They have to figure out a way to keep the crust from burning. The crust is an extremely important of pizza and for it to be burned is pure blasphemy! Nonetheless, I enjoyed this pizza and plan to visit again in the future.

Image

 

4. In Riva

You ever walk into a restaurant and instantly know that you are about to have an awesome meal? That happened. This place has a great atmosphere, memorable character, and the food is so unapologetically awesome! We were seated at the center family style table. This long rectangle table, made out of the owner’s parents’ house doors, set the tone of the restaurant. We started with the arugula and mushroom salad and ordered the margherita and a special pizza that had brisket, brussel sprouts, onions, mustard seeds. Words can’t describe how awesome this food was. Just go! Like now!

Image

Arugula and Mushroom Salad

 

Image

Margherita Pizza

 

Image

Brisket Pizza

5. Birra

Spending times with friends always makes me happy. I especially love when the time is spent eating food. Shonn and I had dinner with our friends, Darron and Jen.

We met at Birra for dinner. The layout of the restaurant is pretty cool. You get to see the pizzas made as you wait for your table. I was even more excited when I saw the amazing combinations coming out of the oven. Shonn was having a conversation with the guy who was running pizzas and asked him what he would recommend. This guy just happen to be the owner and recommended the mussels(best in Philly he claims), the loaded potato and mac and cheese pizzas. It should be noted that I adore restaurant owners who engage the patrons. He was so personable and attentive.

We were seated and decided to start with the breads and spreads and meatballs al forno. My favorite spread was the white bean ragu. Very simple, silky, tasty bean puree. The meatballs were yummy as well. We also ordered the roasted duck pizza and the loaded potato pizza. Darron ordered the jerk chicken penne pasta. The roasted duck pizza can easily described as a guilty pleasure. So decadent and rich in flavor. The loaded potato pizza was exactly that. It tasted just like a loaded baked potato. Amazing!

Spreads and Breads: basil pesto, white bean ragu, and roasted garlic pesto

Spreads and Breads: basil pesto, white bean ragu, and roasted garlic pesto

 

Meatballs Al Forno: Beef and veal in their gravy with house made ricotta

Meatballs Al Forno: Beef and veal in their gravy with house made ricotta

 

Roasted duck pizza: pulled duck, caramelized onion, arugula pesto, mozzarella

Roasted duck pizza: pulled duck, caramelized onion, arugula pesto, mozzarella

Loaded potato pizza: yukon gold mash, bacon, scallions, cheddar broccoli, top with their creme fraiche blend

Loaded potato pizza: yukon gold mash, bacon, scallions, cheddar broccoli, top with their creme fraiche blend

Darron forcing Jen to stuff her face. Ha!

Darron forcing Jen to stuff her face. Ha!

6. Nomad

We went to this year’s Manayunk StrEAT food festival and Nomad pizza was there dishing out their goodness. I reviewed Nomad in my last post but wanted to give a second review because they are just that good. This place is my absolute favorite and will always be my number one recommendation when someone asks me who makes the best pizza in Philly. If I lived closer I would be here on a weekly basis. At least. You are the best Nomad!!

Half margherita, half pepperoni pizza

Half margherita, half pepperoni pizza

Pizza

If I had to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life, I would choose pizza. Pizza’s versatility is what makes me its number one fan. Pan, thin, deep dish, flatbreads;  The possibilities are endless! I am a very moody foodie(poet and I don’t know it!), so it really depends on where my taste buds are feeling that day when it comes to the type of crust I like. I will say however that deep dish pizzas are just not my thing. I apologize in advance to the city of Chicago, but I think Chicago style pizzas should not be referred to as a pizza. Its clearly a pie. I can very easily add some apples and a top crust and submit it in the next pie competition. 

I love a good brick oven pizza. Nothing beats the charred, chewy crust of a pizza right out of a brick oven. I remember eating the pizza at Pizza Paradiso in DC on my road trip earlier this month, and burning the roof of my mouth after not waiting long enough for it to cool down a bit. Needless to say I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying every single bite!

I am taking a different approach this month because there is a great deal to share about pizza. I will be reviewing pizza spots I’ve already visited first, then I will choose three new spots, and finally make a couple pizzas at home.

Nomad Pizza

When I lived in the Chestnut Hill area of Philly I stumbled on this awesome food event called Night Market. The Night Market started out as a small street food event and has grown into this mega food festival. Every summer they choose about 4 different areas of the city and take a over a couple blocks for the night. The best food trucks and local restaurants come here offering amazing street food fare. You can literally come here and satisfy every single food craving you have that day. I remember thinking to myself, ” I am officially in love with this city”. The Night Market speaks to the reputation of Philly’s food scene. 

I walked up to this pizza stand that had a portable brick oven. They had me at hello! Nomad pizza features local, fresh, organic ingredients. I ordered the margarita pizza and in five ten minutes I was in pizza heaven. Chewy, charry(so not a word), tangy, and creamy are the words that describe this pizza. I can without a doubt say that this place is in my top 3. After having it at the Night Market I decided to visit their South St location. We were seated at the downstairs table seated right in front of the pizza making action. Get here fast!

Photos from Nomad’s online gallery:

Earth Bread Brewery

I am not sure how I found out about this place but let’s just say my girls and I visited on a weekly basis at one point. The flatbreads are yummy and the recipes are out of the box. The weekly flatbread is always something over the top. Last week’s BBQ pulled pork flatbread was made with housemade maple BBQ sauce, pulled pork, fontina cheese, picked red onion and creamy cole slaw. The scene is very family friendly so feel free to get a pint of their beer while the kiddies are occupied with coloring sheets and globes. They even feature a kid’s appetizer(fruits and veggies with peanut butter). Earth Bread caters the culture of the Mt. Airy community: parents who still want to have a social life and bring their kiddies along. My favorite flatbread is the White and Black: Roasted garlic sauce, crispy bacon, figs, asiago, parm and arugula.

Photos from Yelp:

Brewing tanks

Pesto, apples, fennel, bacon, and smoked bleu cheese.

Dock Street Brewing Company

My best friend Egypt lives in the University City section of Philadelphia and recommended Dock St for dinner one night. We walked in on a Friday night around 8 and it was pretty packed. Egypt mentioned she never seen it that full. Good news for Dock St. The host was very accommodating in trying to find a table right away. We were seated after waiting about 15 minutes. Our good friend Toya(veggie burger feature from last month) met us there as well. We started with the roasted beet and goat cheese salad(oven roasted beets, walnuts, horseradish sauce, and balsamic reduction over baby spinach) and ordered the BBQ chicken and fig jam pizzas to share. The BBQ chicken is Egypt’s go to and the fig jam sounded yummy. Both were really good but the fig jam pizza was really tasty! The atmosphere is great for hanging out with friends. Not a kid friendly restaurant so keep the kids at home, at least after 6pm.

Photos from Yelp:

Fig Jam Pizza

Off to search for more gems!

Savannah and Charleston: Going Home

After a long drive from Williamsburg, we finally arrived in Savannah around 7:30. We had already selected our dinner option for the evening so we checked into the hotel and made our way to dinner shortly thereafter.

Savannah dinner: Sweet Potatoes Kitchen

We walked in this brightly colored restaurant and was greeted by the hostess who told us there was a 10 minute wait. No big deal. We were seated right in front of the bar and greeted by our waitress almost immediately. She asked us what we wanted and I picked up the drink menu and started to tell her I wanted the local beer but before I could say the second word, she said she would be right back. Awkward. Why ask, if you weren’t ready to take our drink order? Anyway, she came back and took our drink orders. When she came back we ordered our entrees. I ordered the fried chicken with a side of mac and cheese, stewed tomatoes and okra, and mashed sweet potatoes with apples. Shonn ordered cornmeal crusted fried catfish with a side of mac and cheese and red beans and rice. I ordered the banana pudding for dessert. Amazing! I have to say, I was kind of dissapointed with this place but that may not be fair. I am a southern African American which equates to me being a soul food aficionado. I felt like I could’ve had better at my grandma’s house, however this food would’ve been great to someone who is trying it for the first time. 

Image

Catfish with mac and cheese and red beans and rice with a biscuit. The mac and cheese was clearly the end of the batch. The fish was ok but couldve used a bit more seasoning.

Image

Fried chicken with mac and cheese, stewed tomatoes and okra, and mashed sweet potatoes with apples and a biscuit. The fried chicken was tasty but oily. My favorite was the sweet potatoes and apples.

Image

Banana pudding. Heavenly! So silky and creamy with banana slices and crunchy wafers. The pecans were a nice southern touch.

Savannah breakfast: Farmer’s Market at Forsyth Park

Redemption is nigh!!

Image

Taking a break from our run to take a picture on a stoop of a vintage home.

After our morning run we stumbled on the farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets just make me feel so happy inside. I love supporting local farmers and businesses. Of course, I wanted everything, even the veggies that wouldn’t last until I got home. After coming back down to reality, I snagged some peach jam from ….. I also purchased fresh dried pasta, tomato pesto sauce, and super tasty melanzane sott’oilio(eggplants in olive oil) from FraLi Gourmet. Do yourself a favor and order some pasta or marinated vegetables from FraLi.. The prices are reasonable and you can count on quality. Lisa, the owner, is originally from Philadelphia so it makes me proud to support her.

Pappardelle Tomato and Basil: One of the pastas I purchased. I can’t wait to try it with the tomato pesto sauce.

Melanzane Sott’olio: Marinated eggplants in oil. I purchased some fusilli and plan to toss the pasta with the eggplant and olive oil. Happy dance!

Shonn was famished after our run so he bought some tabouleh from one of the vegetarian vendors. It was fresh, crunchy, and tasty. It kept him satisfied while I drooled over all the vendor goods.

Image

All in all, the visit to Savannah was saved by the wonderful farmer’s market. Oh did I mention, we ran into a 5K in the middle of our run? Chic-Fila sponsored a 5K race that benefited Young Life, an organization that is dedicated to the betterment of Savannah’s children. The city of Savannah was alive that morning! You will be missed Savannah…

Charleston Brunch: Hominy Grill

I’m home!

We arrived in Charleston around 1:30, right on time for brunch. We walked up to Hominy Grill(another reco from Randy at W&M) and the hostess told us there was a 10 minute wait but we could order a drink from the walk up bar/takeout window in the meantime. It was the cutest little window in their courtyard that also offered outside seating. We didn’t get a chance to order because they had a table available just that fast.

Image

The waiter greeted us to take our drink order. I ordered a beer mimosa and Shonn ordered a regular mimosa. My mimosa tasted like blue moon with OJ. Yummy! Our waiter asked if it was our first time and gave us his recommendations since we confirmed that it was our first time. After being torn with many items I ordered the she crab soup with a biscuit and Shonn ordered the Charleston nasty biscuit(wait for it). The soup was buttery, creamy with crab shining through. The biscuit was fluffy and warm and was a nice compliment to the homemade strawberry jam on the table.  

Image

She crab soup

Image

Charleston Nasty Biscuit. Fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy. Words cannot describe the goodness of this sandwich! The chicken was perfectly seasoned, the cheese was a great tangy compliment, and sausage gravy put it over the top.

Image

Cute table setting which includes homemade strawberry jam

Off to North Carolina for BBQ!

Road Trip: Philly and Williamsburg

I get easily excited whenever food is involved. Each month I’ve been stoked to share my restaurant and featured recipes with you, however this month is special. I decided to take a couple days off and explore the southeast region of our country. My trip starts in my city, Philadelphia and ends in DC. I will be visiting Williamsburg, VA; Raleigh, NC; Charleston, SC; and Savannah, GA. I view this road trip as a way of revitalizing my roots. I am a Southern bell at heart but admittedly forget that at times as a result of heavily saturating my life in all things “Philly”. I will try to post an entry each night of my four day tour.

Philadelphia: Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat

This is a very popular restaurant in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, specifically for their brunch. The menu is inspired by the south with a Jewish flare, featuring items such as biscuits, latkes, and challah french toast.

Image

I was honored that Back of the House Manager, Shauna Alvarez, took the time to come out and greet me.

Image

Three egg omelette with spinach, mushroom and turkey bacon, biscuit, and a potato and cheese latke with applesauce

Image

Breakfast Bomb: Buttermilk pancake stuffed with scrambled eggs and bacon with a side of homefries

Williamsburg, VA: Dog St. Pub

My honey was recently accepted into the College of William and Mary’s Mason school of business for their MBA program. Full scholarship, might I add (in my very proud voice). We decided to visit Williamsburg on this trip to further explore the city and its offerings. The Associate Director of MBA Admissions, Randy, was kind enough to give us a tour of the campus and local residences. The campus has such a colonial feel, as expected in this town. I am looking forward to visiting Shonn as I am already in love with this town. We decided to try the Dog St. Pub as recommended by Randy.This gastropub is a very local spot with good eats at affordable prices. It just so happens they were running a special. Three sliders with a paired beer for a whopping $9. Score!

Image

Extensive bottle list

Image

Fried green tomatoes with arugula, goat cheese, and bacon

Image

Sliders: Lettuce, pickle, and cheddar, and trellis sauce; carmelized onions, ham, and cheddar; bacon, american cheese, and a fried egg

Image

Beer flight: Alewerk’s Colonial Wheat, Smartmouth Alter Ego, Alewerk’s Drake Trail IPA

The experience on day one has set the bar high for the remainder of the trip. Looking forward to the other cities!

Kite and Key

20140218-220601.jpg

I wanted to update everyone on my last veggie burger review. How things change…

I initially wanted to visit Village Whiskey but due to the long wait that didn’t happen this month. I will save this restaurant for my beef burger month, which I have a feeling will surpass all burgers.

I ended up at Kite and Key, an art museum spot that is famous for its veggie burger. Sooo glad I went!

The Kite and Key veggie burger is so different from the traditional veggie burger on every menu. The texture alone sets it apart. Rather than using mashed beans as the star, they used veggies like corn, green beans, peas, and onions. They form two small patties and stuff shredded cabbage, carrots, and shitake mushrooms mixed with horseradish mayo in between. It’s topped with swiss cheese and alfalfa sprouts on a multigrain roll. Amazing!

If I had one criticism, I would say that the bun could’ve been different. The texture of the crunchy burger was thrown off a bit by the grainy bun. Maybe brioche? Possibly.

I am so torn on what type of burger I want to make. I had my mind made up on a black bean and sweet potato burger with a cilantro and jalapeño aioli but I am very sold on the shredded veggie burger texture.

Stay tuned!