Food Hack: Chinese Five Spice Powder

This is a quick post for today, I just wanted to share one of my absolute favorite spices and two ways I use it: Chinese Five Spice Powder. This spice mix is usually a combination of white pepper, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and clove. The first time I had it was actually while attending a conference at a Disney resort. They had made truffles and topped it with the spice. The combination with chocolate was so good I have looked for it as a dessert every year at the conference since then. Unfortunately, I have not seen it.

When I first started experimenting with Instant Pot cooking, I tried making Chinese Spareribs. That recipe was an epic failure which has not been attempted again, but one of the ingredients was Chinese Five Spice Powder. I could not find the blend anywhere in stores here in Southern Maryland. I probably could have found it at the Asian grocery, but one night it just popped up as a suggested Amazon purchase (is’t the algorithm scary?!). So now that I had this ingredient and it’s initial purpose was a bust, I needed to find another use for it. I remembered the treat I had at Disney and decided to try something:

We were hosting a dinner party and one of the guests brought yummy brownies from BJs. I decided to try to kick them up a notch. I added the spice blend from my pantry to the brownies and oh my goodness were they good. It reminded me of Mexican Chocolate which has a dash of cinnamon or chili added to it. It was so good, I plan on making other chocolate desserts using the spice. I think cookies will be my next experiment. Maybe something like a snickerdoodle, only chocolate.

I also tried my spice expirament for something more savory. For Thanksgiving, we hosted my in-laws and one of them is keto. Well, guess what spice is keto-friendly? I have been trying to convince my in-laws to the benefit of the Instant Pot. So I made my Instant Pot Acorn Squash recipe (which is my top post on NQSH!) but I made it a little different by adding some Chinese Five Spice Powder to it. My father-in-law can be picky when it comes to food, but he loved it. It smelled like fall and tasted just as yummy.

If you have any other ideas for using this spice (other than the ribs), I would love to hear about them! Post your suggestions in the comments.

Easy-Peasy Sticky Buns

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and wanted to try it. So I included the ingredients in my Walmart Grocery order (*hint* place your order after midnight to grab a time slot during this time of social distancing). There was just one problem…I ordered the wrong frozen product. I got yeast rolls instead of cinnamon rolls…and my pudding was substituted for instant. So I did what I could and hacked it with what I had. Turns out it was pretty yummy!

Materials:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 package Rhodes Frozen Yeast Rolls
  • 1/4 tbs Cinnamon
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick salted butter
Procedure: 1. Grease the bottom of your baking dish by rubbing it with your butter stick. 2. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan.3. Place frozen rolls in pan, they should touch (I added another row after the picture was taken).

4. Sprinkle with pudding mix, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Slice the remaining butter into pats and place around your pan.

5. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm dry spot, and wait 3-5 hours. Yes, hours. Your frozen dough will defrost and begin to rise.

6. Preheat over to 350 and take plastic wrap off your pan. See how the dough is bigger?

7. When oven is ready, bake for 15-20 minutes. Careful that your sugar does not start to burn. Take out and let pan cool. 8. When cooled, place a tray or baking sheet over the top and flip your pan onto the tray. 9. Scrap remaining bits out of pan and sprinkle on top of buns. 10. Enjoy! Thoughts for next time…Add more nutsMake a simple syrup with brown sugar mix to make it stickier…maybe use lemon or orange juice…

Perfect Pesto Potato Pizza

When I was in high school, I used to spend my days at this small mall in Princeton. It had a Barnes and Noble and a movie theater. There was also a small pizza place that sold some interesting combinations. I was going through a limited meat phase, so usually opted for veggie pizza. They had a pesto and potato pizza that sounded interesting. It was so good. I wanted to try it again, but then the mall went under renovations and the pizza place was gone. For years, I said I was going to try and recreate it. So last night I finally did.

Family Pizza Night is a standard in our house even though it doesn’t have a strict schedule. If we are making pizza, then that means all three of us are making pizza. We buy the dough pre-made or sometimes my son will prep it for us. We have even made pizza on nights where he had a friend over. My husband usually tries to make a calzone with various results. So I decided that this would be the week we made pizza. I bought three packages of dough from Walmart through their grocery pickup service. Let’s just say that that service is a lifesaver. In and out in less than twenty minutes. I just wish they had same day pickup. The closest I can ever do is 24 hours, but it is way better service than I got at the nicer supermarket in the area, Harris Teeter. Plus it is free!

Last night was an experiment night. Usually, we do the standard pepperoni pizza. Maybe I do one with olives and peppers. This night I used some leftover pesto sauce I had still in the fridge. I thinly sliced a potato and voila! Perfect pesto potato pizza…try saying that three times fast.

I made a small personal pizza, but you could always adjust the recipe to make a larger pie. The coarse sea salt was a perfect touch because there were small pockets of flavor intensity. Yum!

So here is what I did:

Materials:

  • Pizza pan or large baking sheet
  • Rolling pin
  • Spreader/spatula
  • Knife
  • Potato peeler
  • Pizza cutter
  • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 package Pizza dough, pre-made
      1/4 cup Pesto sauce
      1 small Russet Potato
      1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
      1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
      Olive oil
      Flour
      Garlic powder
      Sea salt, coarse ground
      Black pepper, coarse ground
      Italian seasoning

    Procedure:

    1. Let your dough sit out for at least 1 hour for it to come to room temperature.
    2. Peel potato and slice into thin slices. These slices should be almost translucent. The thicker they are, the longer it takes to cook and you run the risk of cooked crust and raw potato. Place slices in a bowl of water mixed with a dash of salt. This will prevent them from turning brown and oxidizing.
    3. Pre-heat oven to 450F.
    4. Once your dough is ready, flour a large flat surface. Take your dough and split it in half since you are only making a small pie. You can use the other half for another pie or even breadsticks. Roll your dough out into an oval or rectangle shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect, call it rustic!
    5. Once dough is rolled out, transfer to your pizza pan.
    6. Place dollops of pesto sauce on your dough and use your spreader to spread it out.
    7. Arrange your potato slices around your pie. Don’t overlap any of the pieces.
    8. Drizzle olive oil over your potato slices.
    9. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic over your potatoes. The amount varies depending on your preference, but I recommend coarse ground sea salt and pepper.
    10. Sprinkle your cheeses over your pizza. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the cheese. Again, the amount of seasoning you use depends on your preference, but remember that pesto already holds a lot of flavor.
    11. Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. You should start checking it at 15 minutes, crust should be slightly brown and the potatoes soft enough for a fork to pierce them.
    12. Let rest for at least 10min outside the oven to cool and then slice.

    What are your favorite non-traditional pizza toppings? Yes, I do like pineapple and ham. Bacon of course is better. Share in the comments.

    Spinach Artichoke Fondue in the Instant Pot

    My husband requested I make a Spinach Artichoke dip as my next recipe post. Unfortunately, I have been very sick with this crud that is going around. So I was not able to make and test this recipe before Super Bowl Sunday, but better late then never! This is not the usual dip, it is more of a fondue because it is loaded with cheese. It is so gooey, but so yummy!

    Materials:

    Ingredients:

      10oz Fresh Spinach
      8oz Cream Cheese
      8oz Gouda Cheese, cubed
      1.5 cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
      1/2 cup Chicken Stock
      1tsp minced Garlic
      1/4 tsp Sea Salt
      1tbsp olive oil

    Procedure:

    1. Turn Instant Pot to Sauté. Add Olive Oil and Garlic. Be careful not to burn the Garlic.
    2. Add rinsed spinach to pot. Keep tossing with the garlic and oil. This may seem like a lot, but the spinach will start to wilt and shrink down in the pot.
    3. When spinach has wilted down (about 1min), add broth and salt. Toss the spinach.
    4. Add cream cheese and stir.
    5. Add Gouda and stir.
    6. Place lid on IP and close the vent. Switch to Pressure Cook on High on Manual for 3 minutes. QPR.
    7. Add mozzarella and stir. If too watery, add more cheese. Please note that it will thicken as it cools.
    8. Serve with bread, tortilla chips, or pita chips. This would also be wonderful served in a bread bowl.

    Maryland Crab Soup in the Instant Pot

    It has been really cold the past few days. Plus our household has come down with the crud. So it is a perfect day for soup. Last week I had Maryland Crab Soup for lunch while out at a restaurant. It cost me $19 for a bowl with a side of hush puppies. I thought I could definitely make it for cheaper than that. Read More »