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Written by Eunice Cheah. Visit her on Instagram at @bakingwitheunice

If you love chocolate and coconut dessert, then you won’t want to miss out on this Chocolate Coconut Bars recipe – it’s easy to make and delicious.

If you have ever been to Vancouver Canada, you would have definitely heard of the dessert, Nanaimo Bars. It is named after the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and it consists of three layers: a nutty coconut crumb base, a sweet middle custard filling and a chocolate ganache on top. Inspired by the amazing dessert, I decided to make my own version of the bars! 

This is a chocolate coconut almond bar, with a crunchy graham cracker base. I wanted to create a dessert that was easy to make and with ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores. In fact, I would not be surprised if you are able to find most of the ingredients in your pantry. It is also a very customizable recipe, so you are able to swap out the ingredients with any toppings of your choice. 

This is such an easy dessert to whip out for any occasion, and I highly recommend trying it out for your next get-together! 

HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE COCONUT BARS

Below is a detailed walk through of the recipe with pictures, but there is a recipe card below. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grab an 8×8 square pan and line with foil or parchment paper. If you are using foil, grease the foil to avoid sticking. 
  1. Combine crushed graham crackers with butter and sugar and mix until it is the texture of wet sand.
  2. Press graham crackers evenly onto the base of the pan and baked in the oven for 15 minutes.

  1. Ones the graham cracker base has been in the oven for 15 minutes, let cool for a few minutes before sprinkling the sweetened desiccated coconut and almond slices onto it. The almond slices are optional, but I thought it would be a great compliment to the coconut. However,  you are welcome to add any toppings of your choice. Adding more toppings will give the dessert more texture. Then, pour the sweetened condensed milk on the top and bake for another 15 minutes.

  1. Combine chocolate and vegetable oil into a bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. I used high quality baking chocolate, but you can use chocolate chips as well, but it does take a longer time to melt. Stir between each burst to prevent the chocolate from burning. You can also use the double boiler method to melt the chocolate if you prefer doing that as well. 
  2. Once melted, spread the chocolate onto the bars and let sit for a few hours to allow the chocolate to harden. I would recommend placing it in the refrigerator for it to set quicker.

  1. Cut the bars into squares using a sharp knife to prevent the chocolate from cracking and serve while chilled. 

Ingredients for Chocolate Coconut Bars

  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers 
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 300 ml sweetened condensed milk (one can)
  • ½ cup sweetened desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup almond slices
  • 1 ¼ cup (10 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a square baking pan with foil and grease the foil so that the bars can be easily removed. 
  2. Pour melted butter and sugar into the crushed graham crackers and mix until combined. It should be the texture of wet sand. Press the crumbs evenly into the square pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Ones baked, sprinkle the desiccated coconut and almond slices onto the graham cracker base before pouring the condensed milk over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  4. While baking, combine chocolate and vegetable oil into a bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir between each burst to prevent from burning. 
  5. Spread the chocolate over the top of the bars and let cool in the fridge for a few hours. 
  6. Cut the bars into squares using a sharp knife to prevent the chocolate from cracking and serve while chilled.

Next Article: How to Make Chinese Hot Pot

Written by Jennifer the food blogger behind Instagram at @jeyang.foodfunadventures

Are you traveling and looking for a Must Try Detroit Area Restaurant? You won’t want miss out on Luigi’s Trattoria and Pizzeria.

Hi. I’m Jennifer from @jeyang.foodfunadventures. In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an order to close all bars and restaurants dine-in from March 16th, 2020. With my outgoing personality and not getting to celebrate my birthday in late March during the stay-at-home order, I missed the experience of dining in. With small businesses in the restaurant industry struggling, I decided to take the opportunity to help out. So, over this past year, I have been working with various mom and pop restaurants in Metro Detroit, to promote their product, and increase their carry out sales, during these trying times. 

On December 11th, 2020, I visited a family-owned restaurant in Livonia, Michigan called Luigi’s Trattoria Pizzeria located at 31530 Plymouth Rd. Where did the restaurant’s name come from? Filippo Mainella, who is the owner, named it after his father, Luigi. Luigi moved to the United States from Italy when Filippo was a child. Filippo gets to work alongside with his son, Tommaso Mainella, who is the General Manager.

History of Luigi’s

Now, let us go back 20 years. When Luigi’s first opened in October 2000, it began simply as a carry-out pizzeria with a counter service. But as the years moved on, the Mainella family realized a shift in dining, and evolved as a full-service restaurant to serve their hungry customers. With the existing infrastructure and more customers ordering entrées other than pizza, the kitchen was not suited properly to handle the high volume, so they addressed the situation by closing the restaurant for two months at the beginning of January 2020 to remodel, something they had been discussing about since early 2018.

Usually right after the New Years is when the restaurant is less busy, so the family remodeled the kitchen, and spruced up the dining room and bar area. Filippo was ecstatic about the new updated kitchen. He brought in an additional stove and changed the setup in the kitchen, to better handle customer’s orders, and make it easier to continue serving its trademark foods. With the reopening on March 1, 2020 comes a new identity, which better reflects its mission and menu. The restaurant got rid of its old name: Luigi’s Pizza Café and replaced it with the name that it is today: Luigi’s Trattoria and Pizzeria.

While the menu remains the same as before, listed below are some of the dishes I got to try!

Let us start with the appetizers.

Must Try Detroit Area Restaurant: Luigi’s Trattoria and Pizzeria – Featured Food:

Arancini

Arancini is an Italian snack consisting of a ball of rice; typically, risotto, vegetables, mozzarella coated with panko breadcrumbs, and deep fried with a side of marinara sauce.

Chicken Marsala

One of their most popular Italian entrees is the Chicken Marsala. The chicken breast is coated and briefly sauteed. It is then removed from the pan, which is then used to make a Marsala reduction sauce with cream and mushrooms.

Build Your Own Pasta

Everyone has their own preferences, so Luigi’s offer an option to build your own pasta. For example, I built an angel hair with Norcina sauce topped with Italian Sausages.

Popeyes Pizza

You of course cannot forget about their pizza since it originally specialized as a carryout pizzeria. One of their popular pizzas is called Popeye. It is a white pizza topped with spinach, roasted red peppers, fontina, provolone, mozzarella, and herbs.

You do not want to miss out on the desserts from Luigi’s because they offer tiramisu and cannoli with chocolate chips!

Tiramisu

Tiramisu is a no-bake Italian dessert combining espresso-dipped ladyfingers, and a creamy sweet mascarpone cream, topped with cocoa powder.

Cannoli

Cannoli consists of a tube-shaped shell of deep-fried pastry dough that are filled with homemade cream sprinkled with chocolate chips.

Food Spread

Luigi’s Trattoria Pizzeria is hands down one of the best Italian restaurants I have been to and a must try Detroit area restaurant. Although I have not tried their entire menu, everything I have eaten was absolutely delicious, and I highly recommend it for anyone in the Metro Detroit area. 

The current full menu for the restaurant can be found at http://luigistrattoriapizzeria.com. If you want to place an order at Luigi’s Trattoria Pizzeria, you call in at 734-261-0600 or order online! They also offer delivery up to a 6-mile radius.

Next: 5 Hot Boozy Cocktails To Enjoy This Winter In Portland (Maine)

Written by Tiffany Guckin. Visit her on Instagram at @Foodswithfinn:

Are you planning a road trip and looking for Connecticut restaurants to try? Here is a list of 7 must try restaurants you won’t want to miss while visiting or passing by the Connecticut Shoreline.

2020 may be behind us but the year has left quite a mess for many to pick up after.  Small business and Connecticut restaurants have been hit hard. However, their ability to adapt and pivot throughout the course of the pandemic has truly been impressive. 

As a local foodie myself, I am seriously missing the simple act of going out to eat or grabbing a cocktail after work with friends. These are things we took for granted since now we’re left wondering stuff like, Do I have my mask, How many people will they let in, and Will this place even be open?

I’ve been lucky enough to still enjoy some of my favorite local Connecticut restaurants this past year, check out some highlights below!

7 Must Try Connecticut Restaurants Along the Shoreline


Moxie, 52 Wall St, Madison, CT 06443

Asian Tuna Tartare with crispy wonton chips and a cocktail to go

Prior to the pandemic, this place was THE spot to be in Madison, CT.  Moxie is a small, unique neighborhood joint offering bar grub with an upscale twist.  The restaurant was always packed, not a table empty on a Saturday night.  Although much quieter these days, I am happy to say I am still able to enjoy the same great food and cocktails, only this time to go!  Don’t feel like calling in an order? Place one online! Make your own menu picks of course, but the fried chicken steamed buns and the Asian tuna tartare  (new menu item) are a must!  Keep doing you Moxie, just want you to know there are fans out there rooting for you!




Chapter One Guilford, 25 Whitfield St, Guilford, CT 06437

Peppermint and Sugar Cookie Martinis to go

Chapter One has brought another great restaurant to the quaint Guilford green!  From brunch to lunch and all that in between, the offerings are aplenty.  In adapting to the new ways of the world, they now have curbside pickup, online ordering, and an outdoor patio with firepits!  Another spot offering cocktails to go, I’d suggest the martini specials (must be 21, you know the rules!).  In addition to the standard menu, Chapter One also runs weekly specials, including the Prime Rib Sunday dinner.  Looking for a lot of food, that’s the special for you!  


Hen and Heifer, 23 Water St, Guilford, CT 06437

Salted Caramel Toffee Cookies

I adore this place.  Although not a typical restaurant, this pastry shop brings a little bit of Europe right to your front door.  The shop has always offered pastries to go but, due to the pandemic, now has a limit to the number of patrons who can be inside at a given time as well as limited shop hours.  It’s never easy to choose what’s coming home with me but my go- to’s are the salted caramel toffee cookies and cream puffs.  Seasonal desserts are also available for a limited time, which you definitely do not want to miss out on.  Don’t be surprised to see a line out the door!


La Foresta, 163 CT-81, Killingworth, CT 06419

Espresso Martini on the outdoor patio

What was once an indoor dining establishment only, thanks to the pandemic, La Foresta now offers outdoor dining on a newly built tented patio.  I had the opportunity to dine outside this past fall (before the cold set in) and it was beautiful.  With plenty of space between tables and string lights draped around the tents, I was able to safely and happily enjoy an espresso martini !  In addition to the patio, like many places, online ordering and family meals are now available.  The calamari is one of my favorite apps and the Gnocchi Di Ricotta has never steered me wrong.  Looking forward to dining here again in the near future!

Okay I could go on and on, so instead I’ll throw out some other favorites that have helped get me through quarantine as well:


P & M Deli Branford, 401 Main St, Branford, CT 06405

There was nothing a Chicken Flag on focaccia or a buffalo chicken wrap couldn’t fix while the world spiraled into a lockdown and I was 6 months pregnant with Finn.  They’ve always been there for me and I continue to rely on them for a quick and easy to go lunch or dinner option.  Online ordering available, pizza specials, and so much more to check out at this Branford favorite. 

Golden House Durham, 325 Main St, Durham, CT 06422

It’s taken almost two years to find “our Chinese takeout” spot but Golden House, you’ve claimed the title! Although we were devastated when this place was closed for the early months of 2020, they have since reopened and are better than ever!  Chicken and Broccoli with an egg roll for me- What are you having?

JavaHut Café Bistro, 20 Church St Guilford, CT 06437 United States

A gem for coffee lovers of all kinds, this place serves up some delicious caffeinated concoctions.  If you couldn’t tell, I am a big fan of seasonal offerings, like the Peppermint Mocha Frappe that was available for winter and now a brand-new Valentine’s Day menu is out on the town!  I know New Year’s resolutions are hot right now, but do yourself a favor and try the crepes.  DO it… just do it.  

We will all continue to get through this together and I’ll keep posting pictures of food with my sweet boy to help pass the time.  Hope you all get a chance to check out some of these spots and continue to support both one another and small businesses. 

Looking for more ideas and places to visit me: https://linktr.ee/FoodswithFinn

Next: 5 Hot Boozy Cocktails To Enjoy This Winter In Portland (Maine)

Written by Sarah Gelber a food blogger at www.207foodie.com:

If you’re going to make eating and drinking outside a thing in January, you need to stay warm doing it! The best solution? Hot boozy cocktails of course! Keep reading for a few can’t miss hot boozy cocktails in Portland that epitomizes the way life should be!

1. Daily Hot Toddy: Izakaya Minato, 54 Washington Ave

izakaya minato portland maine chai hot toddy outside patio hot boozy cocktail
Enjoying a chai hot toddy at Izakaya Minato.

It’s definitely a bonus when you can enjoy your hot boozy cocktails in Portland somewhere warm outside, and thankfully, Izakaya Minato has outdoor seating that includes heaters! But almost nothing beats the feeling of a hot cocktail in your hand, and this chai hot toddy is one you shouldn’t miss. 

The chai hot toddy may not be available but Izakaya Minato is offering a daily hot toddy, so you’ll be able to order something that’s warm!

If the chai hot toddy is on the menu, it’s a nice choice for anyone that loves things on the slightly sweeter side, but the chai flavor has a little spice, so you’ll stay warm. If you’ve never enjoyed Izakaya Minato, you owe it to yourself to order their JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken) because it is life-changing. 

You won’t find chicken like this anywhere else in Portland!

2. Extreme Hot Chocolate Board: The Yard, 82 Hanover Street, Suite 7

Looking for a hot boozy cocktail that will knock the socks off of everyone around you? That includes anyone on social media as well!

extreme chocolate board at the yard portland maine hot boozy cocktail

You’ll find exactly that with the Extreme Hot Chocolate Board at The Yard. These hot chocolate boards are about as extra as it gets, and bonus points if you also happen to snag a reservation for one of the igloos that The Yard has available as well. 

You’ll be in a literal winter wonderland if you can enjoy your Extreme Hot Chocolate Board inside of one of their igloos! It’s sweet, decadent, and it might be a little much for one person to enjoy on their own, so bring along someone to share it with. 

Don’t forget to take a picture because otherwise, nobody will believe you ordered one of these insane boards! Not feeling an Extreme Hot Chocolate Board? 

The Yard has plenty of other great hot boozy cocktails to choose from, so just ask your server what they recommend!

3. Aztec Xoco: Novare Res Bier Cafe, 4 Canal Plaza, Suite 1

When it comes to staying warm in January, it’s hard to go wrong with a little boozy hot chocolate in hand. Luckily, Novare Res has several different kinds of boozy hot cocktail cocoa available for enjoying in their beautiful outdoor space, making it easy to social distance and stay warm around a fire pit. 

aztec xoco at novare res bier cafe portland maine hot boozy cocktail

If you want to add a little spice to your evening, the Aztec Xoco is a perfect choice! With Mexican spices and a kick of Espolòn Blanco Tequila, you’ll stay toasty warm drinking this delicious beverage by the fire! 

Novare also has plenty of draught craft beer, so even if you don’t feel like having a hot beverage, you can still savor your beer. Don’t forget to check-in inside before taking a seat outside!

4. Hot Boozy Cider: Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier, 60 Portland Pier

Keep in mind, Luke’s Lobster is on the pier so it’s colder and windier. Bundle up! If you feel like you’re wearing enough layers (hat and gloves are a good idea since it’s Maine in the winter) then try the hot boozy cider. 

hot boozy cider at luke's lobster portland pier portland maine hot boozy cocktail

It’s got cinnamon bitters, cloves, and it’s hot so there’s not much more you could want. The $3 fish chowder is a nice bonus for those that enjoy chowder and want to have it right by the ocean! 

lobster grilled cheese at luke's lobster portland pier portland maine

Make it a meal by ordering the lobster grilled cheese or a lobster roll. This is one of the advantages of living in Maine: you can order lobster year round because there’s no “season” for lobster here.

5. Hot Wassail: Maine Craft Distilling, 123 Washington Ave

For many people, wassail is something that sounds vaguely familiar, but they can’t quite put their finger on it! Wassail is actually a drink and you’ve probably heard of it in a few Christmas carols! 

There’s a lot more to the tradition but essentially, people would go around drinking from door to door as they were also caroling. Interesting that you can now get your hot wassail from Maine Craft Distilling, isn’t it? 

hot wassail at maine craft distilling portland maine hot boozy cocktail

Wassail sounds a little silly but at the end of the day, it’s like a hot mulled wine and it’s delicious! MCD’s allows you to choose what kind of alcohol to add. 

fried chicken sandwich at maine craft distilling portland maine

The Fifty Stone Whiskey is a lovely pairing to keep you warm if you choose a heated hut or a fire pit! There’s plenty of food to choose from as well, like the fried chicken sandwich or some nachos, since sitting by the fire and drinking is sure to make you hungry.

Tried other hot boozy cocktails in Portland this winter that you loved? Share your experiences in the comments!

Written by Jenny Chen. Visit her on Instagram at @jennysbreadbaby

It’s almost Lunar New Year season! In just a few weeks, all Asian cultures can come together to celebrate Lunar New Year, which is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunar calendar. In Chinese culture, this entails giving out hong bao (red envelopes), watching CCTV with family, and lots of eating! Traditional foods include dumplings, spring rolls, and steamed chicken, hot pot, etc. Famous desserts include nian gaotang yuan (sesame rice balls), fa gao, and of course Thai Tea Choux Puffs.

image of thai tea choux puffs

These Bibble and Sip inspired choux aux craquelin, aka choux puffs, are PERFECT for the new year! They’re baked with a cookie layer that ‘cracks’ on the surface when baked, leaving an aesthetic, crunchy exterior. Hence the name choux au craquelin! The crunchy top, the soft airy pastry, and the deliciously rich Thai tea infused filling make for the ultimate dessert.

How to Make Choux Pastry

One of the key things I’ve learned from making choux is to use COLD WATER in the beginning and to cut the butter into cubes so that it melts faster. Next, add sugar and stir so that it dissolves completely BEFORE the water boils. Then, as soon as everything comes to a boil, immediately remove it from the heat and add all the flour at once (preferably sifted). Finally, mix and turn until there are no lumps and the dough is smooth. This is important if you don’t want cracked shells later!

If you followed these directions, then your dough should:

  • pull away cleanly from the sides of the pan
  • leave a thin film on the bottom of the pan
  • have no flour clumps

Important Step: EGGS

After your dough has been successfully made, transfer to another bowl and let cool. You don’t want to add the eggs while the dough is too hot as this can cook the eggs and may even make your choux eggy. While waiting for the dough to cool, I suggest whisking the eggs well in a bowl first before adding them to the dough. Whisking them beforehand ensures that you get an even distribution of egg white and yolks being added to the dough at all times.

When incorporating the eggs, your dough may separate and break into chunks. THIS IS OKAY. KEEP WHISKING!

You’ll know when the choux pastry is fully done when you get that signature ‘V’ shape. As a guide, when the spoon or whisk is lifted out of the dough, a ‘V‘ should be left hanging from the end of the spoon. This suggests that the mixture is just a bit thicker than the dropping consistency. If you have that, then you’ve now got yourself some beautiful choux pastry dough. Just pipe and bake!

image of thai tea choux puffs

  • Taste: ★★★★★
  • Difficulty: ★★★
  • Ingredients: ★★★
  • Time: 45 min (assembly) + 30 minutes (baking) = ~1.5 hours total

Ingredients (makes ~6-8 cream puffs)

Craquelin Crust:

  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • orange food coloring (optional)

Choux Pastry:

  • 1/2 cup COLD water
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

Thai Tea Filling:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 tbsp Thai tea mix

How To Make Thai Tea Choux Puffs:

  1. Heat up the cream and Thai tea mix until scalded.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep 5 minutes. Strain out and discard the tea mix. Chill until needed.

Making the Craquelin Crust

  1. Mix butter, sugar, flour, and salt together in a large bowl using a spatula. The mixture should resemble slightly crumbly cookie dough.
  2. Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper or inside a zip-loc bag. Press or roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Freeze crust until ready to use.

Making the Choux Pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat.
  2. Combine water, butter, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add flour; stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes together into a smooth dough and pulls away cleanly from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and spread out with a whisk to speed up cooling. Cool until warm, about 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk eggs, one at a time, into the pastry, mixing well after each addition. Scoop pastry into a pastry bag and pipe into 6 to 8 buns on the baking sheet.
  5. Smooth out tops with a wet finger.
  6. Use a cookie cutter to cut crust into circles about the diameter of the buns. Lightly push crusts onto the buns.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 400 F (175 C) and bake for another 15 minutes. Transfer buns onto a cooling rack.

Making the Thai Tea Cream Filling

  1. Beat the heavy whipping cream and sugar until fully whipped with soft peaks (‘ribbon stage’).
  2. Cut a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff.
  3. Pour the cream into a pastry bag and pipe the cream into the cooled choux until filled.
  4. Enjoy your Thai Tea Choux Puffs!!

image of hot pot on hibachi burner with raw vegetables on dining table
Written by Heidi Wright a food blogger at www.recipesmadenew.com:

I like hosting hot pot for dinner at home. It’s great for any time you want to gather with others and create a warm, energetic, and communal atmosphere. Chinese Hot Pot is perfect for an intimate date night or a large family gathering-it’s just that flexible! Putting out a hot pot brings everyone together, but it takes the pressure off of you to cook. You just need a heated pot with broth, and then your favorite ingredients to cook inside!

I love it especially for big gathering days (like Christmas or New Year’s type holidays). On big holidays I tend to spend the morning cooking and baking, and by lunchtime I am hungry, but it’s not time for dinner yet! Below is my recipe for the most basic hot pot base, and you can add whatever ingredients you like to make it your own!

Sometimes I will use a divided hot pot so that one side can be spicy broth that I like.

My favorite base broth is beef, however, my friend swears that pork makes the best broth. Thinly sliced beef, shrimp, bok choy, mushrooms, and rice noodles is my preferred combination of ingredients. The kids like shrimp, broccoli, baby potatoes, and steak. Others in my family like each pot to be themed and separated- seafood, meat, vegetarian, or spicy.

The great thing about hot pot is it gets more flavorful the longer you stay at the table adding and cooking and fishing your favorite ingredients out. It’s definitely a warming, fun activity to do together for a special dinner night or holiday. If you’re looking for an idea for dinner party or a date night in – try hot pot!

The Basics of Chinese Hot Pot:

  1. The pot and heat source: You’ll need a pot that can be set on the table and kept hot. In the past, I have used any of the following with success: a portable butane burner, a hot plate burner, an electric pot by Cuisinart with a heat setting dial, a fondue pot, and a portable stove (while we were outside camping-remember only to use safe indoor heat sources when you are inside). I really like the divided pots (look up Shabu Shabu or Hot Pot while searching and you’ll find them). If we have more than five people we usually do two pots-one for each end of the table.
  2. Utensils: We have used wood skewers, metal skewers, fondue skewers, spoons, mini tongs, small strainers, chopsticks… whatever we had on hand to make our hot pot dreams come true. Keep in mind it’s a communal pot, so color coding your wooden skewers or using the color coded fondue sticks can help you find your shrimp when it is cooked – or you can use the “dump it in” strategy and fish out your desired ingredients with tongs or a filter basket. Just keep an eye on your treasured ingredients so you know where to get them out later when they are cooked.
  3. Bowls: Shallow serving bowls for your cooked food and broth, and smaller bowls for sauces and dips to add in.
image of spicy hot pot broth with basil and peppercorn

Ingredients For Chinese Hot Pot:

  1. The Broth: A basic hot pot will have a flavorful, delicious broth as its base. If I am using beef or chicken as my main protein, I will make a rich beef, pork or chicken broth. I prefer homemade broth, but you can use store bought stock in the container! If I have a lot of seafood ingredients, I will use seafood broth. If I am going vegan/vegetarian, I will make a vegetable stock. You can also use hot pot bases (they come in a packet) that are pre-made. You can find these at most Asian food stores or online. For the second pot, I usually make a spicy broth with peppers or curry and a little coconut milk. Most hot pots need at least 8 cups of broth to fill them up. I also keep more hot broth or hot water on the table to refill the pot throughout the evening. 
  2. Ingredients to Cook: I use at least one protein item, vegetable item, and starch item for a two-person hot pot. For four or more people, I like to have three protein options minimum, four veggies, and at least two starches available.

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to get your ideas flowing:

Proteins:

  • Thinly sliced beef
  • Steak pieces
  • Thinly sliced pork
  • Thinly sliced lamb
  • Pork belly
  • Chicken breast
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Fish balls
  • Scallops
  • Oysters
  • Fish (halibut, salmon, trout, bass)
  • Squid
  • Tofu
image of thinly sliced lamb shoulder for hot pot cooking

Vegetables:

  • Mushrooms (shiitake, button, portobello, enoki)
  • Hard winter squash
  • Hearty greens (bok choy, cabbage, kale)
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Baby corn
  • Scallions
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Bell Peppers
  • Chili Peppers

Starches:

  • Noodles (rice, ramen, vermicelli, yam)
  • Dumplings
  • Potatoes
  • Rice

Dipping Sauces:

  • Soy
  • Sesame
  • Chili
  • Chili oil
  • Garlic
  • Teriyaki
  • Egg yolk
  • Sriracha
  • Fish
  • Ginger-scallion
  • Hot pepper

Chinese Hot Pot Etiquette:

  • Remember it is a shared, communal pot! Don’t put your utensil that you’re using to cook your food into your mouth or let it touch your fork, spoon or chopstick you’ve put your spit on. Keep it clean for others!
  • Don’t steal your friend’s shrimp they have been cooking and waiting on. 😉
  • If you have a double broth pot, don’t cross the broths and mix them up. Keep them separate – someone at the table might not want spicy broth in the plain beef broth side.

Hosting Advice:

If you are the hot pot dinner host, here are some ideas to keep the setup accessible for all:

  • Ask your guests if they have any allergies to make sure you do not include those ingredients, since it is a communal pot. 
  • Make sure the pot is accessible to everyone around the table. Also, if you have more than 4-5 guests, you may want to set up two pots at each side of the table.
  • Place each ingredient on separate plates/bowls. Do not cross-contaminate uncooked ingredients – keep it safe and clean for your guests.
  • Save yourself on prep time – It’s okay to use frozen ingredients straight from the freezer, because they will cook in the hot pot!
  • Lastly, set up the rules for hot pot participation for your guests ahead of time so they know – do you care about chopstick washing in between dips? You would rather they use skewers in the pot or baskets to fish out their food? Just set clear expectations so people can relax and enjoy the time. 

There are many ways to build a delicious hot pot together with friends and family. Enjoy the time hosting this fun way to connect with others and build relationships over food!

Pastries in American Culture

Pastries are deeply rooted in American Culture. For instance, take the classic American pastries like Boston Cream Pie, Baked Alaska, or New York Cheesecake.

After all, this country has made its mark on the pastry world we love and know. However, Modern pastry chefs and bakers continue to rethink the possibilities by mixing classics to make new ones.

For example, they will take a classic pastry like a donut, and mix it with a flaky croissant. After all, they do this to create something new – in this case the Cronut.

In addition, pastry chefs are mixing, topping, or filling these pastries with different ingredients, flavors, textures, and baking styles. As a result, they are bringing to life new delicious creations.

A Cultural Trend

However, the mixing of classic pastries is not new. After all, it is at the heart of what American food culture is all about. For instance, we’ve seen this mixing of classics. In other words, it is resulting in new modern pastry classics – like the Cronut or Cragel or Donut Ice Cream.

As a result of this change, restaurants and pastry chefs have become overnight celebrities. Even media companies have caught on to the cultural trend.

For instance, streaming services like Netflix have signed on shows like Zumbo’s Just Desserts, Sugar Rush, Nailed it! and The Great British Baking Show because of this change. In other words, they’re taking advantage of the growing success of this cultural pastry trend.

Consequently, this trend in pastry making has Americans obsessed with trying the hottest pastries. That is why it’s no surprise there had been more and more pastry businesses popping up around America (pre-COVID).

Famous Pastries

Similarly, pastries have become famous, just like the restaurants and pastry chefs that create them. As a result of their fame, these pastries are drawing long line ups and wait times, looking like fans waiting for concerts or shows.

For instance, I recall my first time visiting Levain Bakery in the Upper West Side of New York City with my husband. We were there to try their famous Chocolate Walnut Cookie.

As a result, I recall the experience of waiting over an hour in the lineup and the hot New York summer heat beating down on us – which was hard. The cookie blew me away. As a result, the experience had me thinking about this important cultural trend for the first time.

14 Pastries that Foodies are obsessed with

Because of this change, it’s no surprise that pastry desserts are one of the most popular foods to blog about on social media.

As a result, this led us to ask the question, which ones are foodies obsessed with? To help answer this question, we asked our food blogger community to weigh in.

In addition, we thought we would share our favorite pastry mixes in each category. We hope you enjoy!

14. Cronut

13. Cannoli

12. Tarts

11. Churros

10. Cake

9. Danish

8. Eclair

7. Muffin

6. Brownies

5. Cupcake

4. Croissant

3. Cinnamon Roll / Morning Buns

2. Cookies

1. Doughnut

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Cravve team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at admin@cravveapp.com.

Every wonder which fast food chain offers the best fried chicken sandwich? We did too, so we asked our foodie community of food bloggers and influencers to rank their favorite. Check out what they ranked.

Fried chicken sandwiches have exploded in popularity. With the rise and expansion of Chick-Fil-A, Shake Shack Popeyes over the past several years – the chicken sandwich is now at the forefront of the fast food scene – driving crowds of fast food goers all across America but also driving steep competition. The competition is so intense, experts are calling it the ‘Fried Chicken Wars’.

So which fast food restaurant has the best chicken sandwich? With so many varieties, innovations, interpretations, price points, and calories, the answer can really depend on your preference.

Do you like your chicken juicy? What level of crispy crunch do you prefer? Do you like sauce, pickles, and other toppings? Does it have to be a hot or spicy chicken sandwich? How important is the bun? Do you prefer cheese or bacon?

While chicken sandwich innovation continues in 2020 with new varieties are being pumped out by fast food chains regularly, the chicken sandwich continues to be at the forefront with no signs of slowing down.

While the question of ‘which is best’ is nearly an impossible question for one person to answer. With that in mind, we decided to ask the question to foodies in our CRAVVE app community to see which they prefer. Here is how they ranked them. In addition, we’ve added the nutritional info from each fast food chains website, along with our narrative and review of each chicken sandwich.


Note: Nutrition facts are sourced from company websites as of December 20, 2020.

10. KFC – The Zinger

Nutritional Facts: 260 Calories, 37 (g) Carbs, 25 (g) Fat and 1170 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: Honey BBQ, Buffalo, and Nashville Hot

Our Review:

KFC is well known for its crispy chicken and its fried chicken sandwich represents it well. Above all, the huge slap of chicken breast deep-fried to perfection with a secret blend of spices and topped with lettuce, pickles, and a smear of mayonnaise is close to perfect – the sandwich is a heavy hitter.

In addition, the flavor options are a standout, with 3 different sauce varieties including Honey BBQ, Buffalo, and Nashville Hot. For instance, you can customize your chicken flavor just the way you want – and not sacrifice that crispy chicken crunch you know and expect from KFC.

9. Jack in the Box – Cluck Sandwich

Nutritional Facts: 490 Calories, 54 (g) Carbs, 22 (g) Fat and 1260 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 6 flavors (Cluck Sandwich, Cluck Deluxe, Jack’s Spicy Chicken, Jack’s Spicy Chicken with Cheese, Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club, and Sourdough Grilled Chicken Club.

Our Review:

While Jack in the Box is more known for their burgers, they recently launched 2 New Chicken Sandwiches, including the Cluck Sandwich and the Cluck Deluxe Sandwich. Because of these two new chicken sandwiches, they’ve elevated their fried chicken game replacing what was a relatively plain chicken sandwich.

As a result of offering six different varieties of chicken sandwiches, they’ve got options that will appeal to a broader array of chicken sandwich lovers. While they’re known for their inexpensive meals, the Jack in the Box chicken sandwich is a low-cost option for budget-conscious chicken sandwich lovers.

8. Burger King – Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Nutritional Facts: 670 Calories, 54 (g) Carbs, 41 (g) Fat and 1080 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 5 Flavors (Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Original Chicken Sandwich, Bacon & Cheese Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and BBQ Bacon Crispy Chicken Sandwich)

Our Review:

Burger King has joined in on the chicken sandwich wars with 5 varieties of its chicken sandwich including Spicy, Bacon, Bacon & Cheese, BBQ Bacon, and of course regular. Because of the thin white chicken filet, seasoned and breaded patty, it is perfectly combined with other toppings for a chicken sandwich experience that will want you exploring more.

The regular Crispy Sandwich is made with white meat chicken filet and layered with fresh lettuce, ripe tomato, and creamy mayonnaise on a potato bun. However, you’re going to want to explore one of the flavored options to elevate your BK Chicken Sandwich experience.

7. Arby’s – Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Nutritional Facts: 510 Calories, 55 (g) Carbs, 25 (g) Fat and 1230 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 5 Flavors (Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Original Chicken Sandwich, Bacon & Cheese Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and BBQ Bacon Crispy Chicken Sandwich)

Our Review:

Arby’s Chicken Sandwich is surprisingly delicious. Despite having only one flavor of crispy chicken sandwich. The chicken sandwich experience swings above its weight, with a juicy thick-cut tomato and a perfect smear of mayo. In addition, with its star top bun, the meat to bun ratio is well proportioned so every bite feels consistently delicious and satisfying.

6. Jollibee – Fried Chicken Classic or Deluxe

Nutritional Facts: 550 Calories, 55 (g) Carbs, 23 (g) Fat and 970 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 2 Flavors ( Chicken Sandwich Classic, Chicken Sandwich Deluxe)

Our Review:

A relatively new player to the US Fast Food Scene, Jollibee is catching on quickly and it’s fried chicken and Fried Chicken Sandwich is at the forefront. This Fried Chicken sandwich deserves the hype and praise. With its soft bun, fresh lettuce, layered mayo, and a generous portion of chicken – it’s no wonder flocks of people are venturing into Jollibee for the first time to check out the hype. If you’ve got a Jollibee nearby – it’s worth dropping in and trying a Fried Chicken Sandwich. You’ll be delighted.

5. Wendy’s – Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Nutritional Facts: 490 Calories, 49 (g) Carbs, 21 (g) Fat and 1450 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 15 Flavors ( Pretzel Bacon Pub Chicken, Spicy Pretzel Bacon Pub Chicken, Grilled Pretzel Bacon Pub Chicken, Spicy Bacon Jalapeno Chicken, Classic, Classic Bacon Jalapeno Chicken, Grilled Bacon Jalapeno Chicken, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Classic Chicken Sandwich, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Asiago Ranch Classic Chicken Club, Spicy Asiago Ranch Club, Grilled Asiago Ranch Club, Crispy Chicken BLT, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich)

Our Review:

Before the Fried Chicken Sandwich Wars began, the Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s was the gold standard. Consequently, it was one of the first of the popular fast food chains to offer and introduce a Spicy Fried Chicken sandwich. In addition, it delivers a high-quality crunch on a consistent basis. It’s no wonder the Spicy Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s is still among the top sandwiches among Foodies.

Things have evolved since the original Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Now Wendy offers 15 varieties of Chicken Sandwiches to choose from and gives you more options to explore each time you visit.

4. McDonald’s – McChicken Sandwich

Nutritional Facts: 600 Calories, 57 (g) Carbs, 29 (g) Fat and 980 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 2 Flavors ( Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich and McChicken)

Our Review:

Is it any surprise that the McChicken is a favorite among foodies? Because of the giant slab of fried chicken that overwhelms the bun it sits on, a pickle and signature sauce – it’s the perfect Fried Chicken Sandwich combination. In addition, the signature Sauce has a Mac Sauce flavor with a touch of spiciness.

As a result, it’s no surprise that with the Fried Chicken Sandwich wars, McDonald’s has been experimenting with different variations including the Hot n’ Spicy McChicken Sandwich, which was available at select locations across the US.

3. Shake Shack – Chik’n Shack

Nutritional Facts: 590 Calories, 34 (g) Carbs, 36 (g) Fat and 1170 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 2 Flavors (Chick’n Shack, Hot Chick’N)

Our Review:

Shake Shack is one of the fastest-growing fast food chains in America and for good reasons, its innovative restaurant experience, delicious menu, and excellent service are pushing the fast food industry forward.

Among the many standouts on the menu is the Fried Chicken Sandwich, with its hulking mass of a Fried Chicken breast and the bun struggles to keep in and cover all of the crispy goodness. It’s no surprise why our foodie community rated it so highly. We can’t get enough.

2. Popeye’s – Classic Chicken Sandwich

Nutritional Facts: 699 Calories, 50 (g) Carbs, 42 (g) Fat and 1443 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 2 Flavors (Classic Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Chicken Sandwich)

Our Review:

The rise of the Fried Chicken Sandwich wars sent Popeyes and it’s Fried Chicken Sandwich into a viral spin upward. Leading to explosive growth and of course, it’s Chicken Sandwich was at the heartbeat of the growth.

Its double battered breast delivers on the crunch factor in a big way but also it doesn’t brine its chicken giving it an extra delicious taste. So if you love a Fried Chicken with an extra crunch – Popeye’s is the place for you. It’s no surprise that it sits in the top 2 among our foodie community.

1. Chick-Fil-A – Chicken Sandwich

Nutritional Facts: 440 Calories, 41 (g) Carbs, 17 (g) Fat and 1400 (mg) sodium

Available Flavors: 6 Flavors (Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich, Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich Deluxe, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Deluxe Sandwich, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Chick-Fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich)

Our Review:

Is it any surprise that Chick-Fil-A is our foodie community’s Favorite Fast Food Chicken Sandwich? Probably not. It’s fresh, reliable, convenient, and delicious. The crazy thing about this Fried Chicken Sandwich is that it’s such a simple Sandwich with a large chicken breast, bun, and a hidden pickle. That’s it! No crazy sauces, or extra meats, or a gimmicky name.

The Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich is really the new gold standard of chicken sandwiches and honestly not much has changed since it was first introduced. It is a beautiful reminder, that sometimes simple is better! In the case of Chick-Fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich, this couldn’t be more true.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Cravve team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at admin@cravveapp.com.

With new Brooklyn restaurants popping up regularly, Brooklyn is a haven for foodies and food bloggers. It is the ultimate place to be to find trendy new food. In addition, Brooklyn Restaurants arguably have some of the best food in New York City and you don’t want to miss out.  From lavish meals at a classic steakhouse to legendary pizza to delicious bagel destinations to instagrammable brunch spots – Brooklyn Restaurants are known for amazing food. In addition, it has a long history of trend setting food including being home to the original Smorgasborg that has since spread to LA and other Michelin Star restaurants. 

Here is our shortlist of 5 must-try foods in Brooklyn in 2020 – so jump in and take a big bite of what’s new and trendy. 

#5 The New Main House Bacon Cheeseburger 

Main House kosher bar & restaurant, 6001 Strickland Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11234

Are you a cheeseburger lover? Well, we are and this burger stands up to some of the best we’ve had.  With options to combine different meats, you’ll want to load up your favorite combination. Consequently, you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to wrap your mouth around this cheeseburger or at least do it without making a big mess. In other words, this hidden gem is worth the trip to Brooklyn and will keep you coming back for more. It did for us. 

#4 Malted Pancakes

Sunday in Brooklyn, 348 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

We’ve eaten our share of great pancakes, and so it takes an exceptional flapjack to get us excited. However, the malted pancakes at a new brunch hot spot called Sunday in Brooklyn have got us excited. These sweet and indulgent short stacks are everything you could ever want in a pancake and the praline syrup with hazelnut butter whisked with maple syrup takes the experience to the next level. The pancakes are so light and fluffy. As a result, you will want a second round.

#3 Pepperoni Pizza

Lucali’s, 575 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Made famous in Netflix ugly delicious, Mark Lacono’s celebrated pizza, is a wonder of the Brooklyn food scene. With three hour or more waits. Foodies and food bloggers flock to this scene – just to chop down on a slide of some of the best pizza they’ve ever had. What’s the excitement about? The hand-stretched dough pizza, is a thin crust, with a simple sauce with clear tomato flavor with an array of deliciously complex cheese. In addition, the mozzarella is incredibly fresh and topped with parmesan after baking. As a result, these wood-fired oven pies are true pizza artistry.  It’s worth the wait.

#2 Savory French Toast

Sisters Brooklyn, 900 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Did we say Savory French Toast? Yes, sweet and savory combinations do pair well. If you need proof there is no better option than the Savory Pancakes at Sisters Brooklyn. With French Toast topped with Pulled pork and a sunnyside up egg. Your tastebuds are going to thank you for taking them through this culinary journey.

#1 S’mores Soft Serve

Sunday in Brooklyn, 348 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Yes, we are obsessed with Sundays in Brooklyn but can you blame us. Look at this mountain of S’mores Soft Serve, which is a seasonal treat. If you have a sweet tooth like us, you’ll be obsessed with this show stopping dessert, especially in the New York summer heat. Although, you’d probably gobble this up quick, even without the summer heat.

If you haven’t already, also be sure to download the Cravve app or follow us on Instagram at @cravveapp.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Cravve team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at admin@cravveapp.com.

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