Pistachio Butter Buckeyes + Ohio Moments

DSC00436.jpg
DSC00304.jpg
DSC00306.jpg
DSC00314.jpg
DSC00327.jpg
DSC00376.jpg
DSC00370.jpg
DSC00419.jpg
DSC00421.jpg
DSC00423.jpg
DSC00431.jpg
DSC00447.jpg

apple picking and apple baking

DSC00248.jpg
DSC00226.jpg
DSC00270.jpg
DSC00272.jpg
DSC00280.jpg
DSC00275.jpg
DSC00297.jpg

Hi there! I'm just going to warn you that at this very moment, as I'm typing, I'm a little tipsy and just ate Taco Bell for the first time in maybe 8 years... it was just one of those nights. I can't guarantee that you're not going to read anything weird. Anyways, happy almost weekend! What do I need to catch you up on? Let's see... I went home to Cleveland this past weekend! It was so great! I'm feeling extra chubby but that's the price you have to pay for some quality family time. At least in my family. Cleveland was so peaceful. The air was breezy and crisp. The trees were just starting to turn into my favorite color - orange! The cousins and I went apple picking with our mommas and our grandma. To be honest, some of the apple trees were more like apple bushes, but it was still super fun and festive to wander around in search of the perfectly round and crisp apple. My grandma got very into apple picking and it was very cute. She's an incredible gardner and grew up in the rural countryside of Southern China, so I think it was her natural instinct to get picking. We took home way too many apples for us to consume, but I used up a few to make an apple galette and apple crisp to share at the family dinner later that night. It was a hit : )

I woke up at 4am EST on Sunday morning, hopped on an airplane, and was back in San Francisco by 8:30am PST. Just in time to grab breakfast at one of the only Dunkin' Donuts in the Bay Area, which is conveniently by the airport. Hooray for clean eating! Flying is just so crazy isn't it? One minute you're in Cleveland sleeping in your childhood bedroom and then the next minute you're in the middle of San Francisco surrounded by dumplings. Weird. 2 cocktails seems like a lot now...

Going home was so great. But another great thing happened this week! I work for an awesome interior design firm, Studio O+A, and they wrote an incredibly sweet article about this very blog! Al, our amazing staff writer interviewed me and wrote kind words about Eat Cho Food. When I found out that he read every post, I was legitimately embarrassed. Like, an actual writer read my words and actually thought it was okay???? WHAAAAA? There are like a million grammatical errors and misspellings in each post. But he captured the spirit of this little page so well! Here are my two favorite quotes from the article:

The result is a kitchen diary that combines good cooking, luscious photography and spicy writing to tell the story of a young woman living with her sweetheart in one of San Francisco’s great neighborhoods and spreading love to friends and family in the form of mouthwatering meals and snacks.

and

Eat Cho Food is an on-going journal of happiness.

Al hit the nail on the head and I don't think I could have said it better myself... actually, I definitely couldn't have. My goal for this blog is for it to be more than just recipes. I want it to be filled with stories, memories, and thoughts that simply make you happy, even if it's just for a moment during your day. This blog is a product of joy. The world is a pretty messed up place sometimes. So if I can make it just a tiny bit brighter, I feel like I'm doing something good with my life. If you want to read the article check it out here!

Alright, so what is a buckeye? The official state tree of Ohio is the Buckeye. The tree produces seeds that look like this. The mascot for The Ohio State University is a buckeye named Brutus. The creative people of Ohio started making peanut butter and chocolate confections to mimic the look of our state tree nut. Everyone in the state of Ohio without a peanut or chocolate allergy eats them. That is the terrible abridged history of the chocolate buckeye! If it wasn't entirely clear, a buckeye is essentially a ball of peanut butter mixed with powdered sugar and then dipped in chocolate. It's a like a peanut butter cup and truffle hybrid... but looks like a buckeye. You get it. It's really hard to explain if you're not from Ohio.

I've upgraded the traditional buckeye by making my very own pistachio butter! If you haven't tried pistachio butter yet, you must! Don't buy the jar stuff though. A jar of pistachio butter is like $15!!! Hell. No. Buy a bag of pistachios for $8 at Trader Joe's and grind it up yourself. That way you can control how sweet or chunky you like it. You'll feel super accomplished. I've adjusted this recipe so that it is not "ah! I'm going to get so many cavities" sweet, which is how buckeyes typically are. These actually taste like pistachios and have a bunch of salt in it to counteract the sugar. They make a perfect and cute gift for when one of your best friends shows up for a surprise lunch date, or if you want to do something nice for your nut butter loving girlfriend.

If I ever get the opportunity to write a cookbook one day, I definitely want there to be a chapter called "The Homesick Ohioan." There would be buckeyes, pirogies, Skyline coneys, copycat Jeni's ice cream, copycat Steak n' Shake burgers, and more things that my slightly tipsy brain can't think of right now. Doesn't that sound great?!


Pistachio Butter Buckeyes

makes about 16 buckeyes

Pistachio Butter:

1 1/2 cups roasted unsalted pistachios

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

1 tbsp sea salt

 

Buckeyes:

1 cup pistachio butter

6 tbsp melted butter

1 cup powdered sugar 

2 tbsp sea salt

8 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Steps:

1. Add roasted pistachios into your food processor and process for 4-5 minutes until it is crumbly and starting to get creamy. Slowly drizzle olive oil and process for another 2 minutes. Add honey and salt. You can adjust depending on taste. Mix for another minute until creamy. You should have about 1 cup of pistachio butter.

2. Combine pistachio butter, melted butter, powder sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix until combined. Add a little more salt to taste if you like. Place bowl in the freezer and let the mixture firm up for 15 minutes.

3. Remove bowl from the freezer. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out about 1 tbsp of the pistachio butter, enough to make a 1" ball. Roll between your hands to form a ball. Place on parchment paper. Repeat until all the pistachio butter is used up. Stick the baking sheet in the freezer and let the balls firm up for 30 mins.

4. Right before you're about to take out balls, melt your chocolate. Either melt your chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. If going the microwave route, slowly melt the chocolate by placing it in the microwave in 15 second intervals and mixing in between. It takes awhile, but you have to do this to avoid burning the chocolate. Trust me!

5. Take the balls out of the freezer. Use a toothpick and stick it into a ball and then dip into the melted chocolate. Allow the top portion of the pistachio butter ball to remain exposed to give it it's buckeye appearance. Shake off any excess chocolate and place back on the parchment paper. Repeat with all the pistachio butter balls. Use the back of a spoon or small offset spatula to carefully smooth over the hole from the toothpick. Stick the sheet in the fridge for 15-20 minutes until the chocolate and pistachio butter filling has firmed up.

6. Enjoy! 

Ohio : Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati

VSCO Cam-27.jpg
IMG_8966.jpg
VSCO Cam-26.jpg
VSCO Cam-31.jpg
VSCO Cam-20.jpg
VSCO Cam-4.jpg

Ohio, I miss you! Reuben and I just got back from a wonderful week in the greatest state. This past week was packed with family, good food, group photos, old friends, driving, beer tasting, living room chilling, and lots of ice cream. I've been looking forward to this trip home for months and it didn't disappoint. My smarty-pants little brother graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Neuroscience. I'm so proud! He's so old and smart now, I almost can't believe it! Everything that he studies is way beyond me (architecture was a much fluffier major) but I'm 100% confident that he is going to become the greatest brain doctor : )

In 1 week, we were in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Ohio's Big C's! This trip was Reuben's first time to my hometown of Cleveland, and it was Reuben and I's first time being in Cincinnati together. Fun Fact: Reuben and I both studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati during the same time. I was in the undergraduate program and he was in the graduate program. Besides briefly meeting once in studio, we never really got to know each other until we both ended up in San Francisco. Being in Cincinnati together was super interesting because in the last 3 years, we've discussed and referenced the same Cincinnati things and places, but had yet to experience any of it together.

Ohio has changed so much since I lived there, so it was a trip of exploration for both of us. I've known this for a while, but the Big C's are getting SO COOL. The Midwest is feeling very West Coasty these days. I was pleasantly surprised by how many breweries, cute cafes, and interesting restaurants there were. I had one of the best meals I've ever had in Cincinnati! More details below. And can I talk about the weather?! I was able to stay outside at night with only a light jacket on. I know that doesn't sound like much, but after you've lived in chilly San Francisco for a while, you'll understand the luxury of being able to comfortably hang out on a roof deck at night without a parka on. *I'm currently ignoring the fact that it snows in Ohio. 

It's no secret that I want to move back to Ohio. A big part of me is really over living in San Francisco. It's beautiful and whatever, but it just doesn't really feel like home. I love our sunny apartment and living in Inner Richmond, but a lot of days I feel worn out and exhausted living in this expensive city. I contemplate if living and working here is really worth being so far away from my family? No, I don't think so... I have probably another 1-2 years of living in SF left in me. To be honest, I would move back to Ohio yesterday if Reuben didn't want to stay here a little bit longer.

People ask me why I love Ohio so much and it's really hard to explain.

1. Half my family is there (the other half is in Hong Kong).

2. Life is a little easier and more peaceful.

3. I can buy/renovate the house of my dreams there. Half a million dollars gets you a litter box in the Bay Area.

4. People are just generally nicer to you there. So many people wanted to just talk to us last week!

5. I can have a car. Is it anti-millennial to say that I hate taking public transportation?

I obviously, can't really complain about living in San Francisco. But there really isn't anything that can compare to being near your family, or stopping by your grandma's house to say hello after you land to also find your aunt and cousin there having dinner. Mini family reunion! I don't know if moments like this making you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it does for me. I hope that those of you who live close to your families appreciate what an amazing gift that is. And for those that live far away like me, make the most of the few moments you have with them!

Below is a recap of everything that we saw and ate while in Ohio!


Columbus

I didn't really get to explore Columbus that much because I was at the graduation ceremony getting a sunburn, but Reuben opted out of sitting in the sun and had a blast wandering around Columbus.

One Line Coffee 

Hoof Hearted Brewing | "Best Beer in Ohio" - Reuben

North Market | Fun market full of food stalls, spices, waffles, and a Jeni's stand. Reuben had the best pierogies ever at Hubert's Polish Kitchen.

Rossi | Our destination for a post-graduation dinner. Their menu was a mix of Italian and Asian small plates and shareable dishes. Great pizza, crispy octopus, and Bo Ssam (braised pork shank with kimchi and pickled cauliflower and served with steamed bao and lettuce)!

Jeni's Short North | Jeni's is my favorite ice cream. Hands down. I couldn't go to Columbus and not get a scoop (or two) from a Jeni's scoop shop. My favorite flavors are the Brambleberry Crisp and Milkiest Chocolate flavors.

 

Cincinnati

We were only in Cincinnati for about 36 hours... which makes this list a little ridiculous. 

21C Museum Hotel | If you are going to Cincinnati, I highly recommend that you stay here! It's such a fun and unique hotel! The lobby and first 2 floors are active museum galleries. It's located right downtown next to the Contemporary Arts Center and you can walk to Over-The-Rhine and to the rest of downtown. There are also boob tiles in the bathrooms.

Cheapside | Get the Oatmeal Creme Brûlée - OMG

Mediterranean King | $4 Amazing Falafel Pitas?!!!!!!!!! Why did I not go here everyday during college?

Skyline Chili | We arrived in Cincinnati around 10:30 pm after graduation dinner and mustered enough energy to head to Skyline for a late night coney. No regrets.

Arlin's | Classic grad school bar.

Listermann Brewery | The Blueberry Lime Tart Gose was my personal favorite. They mixed it with gatorade to make a green colored Haterade that I was super into.

Urban Artifact | They are located in an old church and specialize in sour beers, both factors we love.

Rhinegeist Brewery | It seems like Rhinegeist is slowly taking over the world. We just saw their beer in the Whole Foods here. Not my favorite beer, but they have an awesome roof deck which made for a great place to wrangle old friends together.

Salazar | ONE OF THE BEST MEALS I'VE HAD IN A WHILE. Please go. Order the chicken liver mousse, polenta with crispy egg, pork belly, and crispy chicken. Order everything.

Taft's Ale House | How did we consume so much beer in one day? We were only here for about 30 minutes, but it was such a nice and grand space to be in!

DAAP | Where I spent 4+ years of my life drawing, building models, drafting, not sleeping.

Washington Park | GORGEOUS. Might be my favorite place in all of Cincinnati. I can't think of a comparable park. It's just so beautiful and made even more magical with Music Hall as it's background. 

OTR + Downtown | OTR has changed so much. When I first moved to Cincinnati in 2009, people told us to avoid it because of how dangerous it was. It slowly started to have more shops, restaurants, and bars pop up, and now it's completely blown up with some of best restaurants and cute shops around! 

Greater's Ice Cream | Had to get it.

Bluebird | Classic little diner Reuben used to go to a bunch. Excellent crispy potatoes!

 

Cleveland

TBH I really wanted to just lounge around at my parent's house, which we did! My mom threw a thanksgiving caliber family cookout and made her famous fried chicken... I can't get myself to share the recipe yet. But since it was Reuben's first time in Cleveland we went in search of restaurants and trendy coffee shops!

Li Wah | I've been going here for Dim Sum with my family since before I was born.

Siam Cafe | Another place I've been going to with my family since I could remember! Go with a large group and order one of the large set dinners!

The South Side | Mmmmmm give me another skillet of their Mac n' Cheese.

West Side Market | I take everyone here when they come and visit Cleveland. Sample fruit from the produce vendors. Eat a crepe, a smoked sausage, a gyro, or all of the above!

Rising Star Coffee 

Cleveland Museum of Art | It's free to go here all the time! The main atrium is impressive and so is their collection of french impressionist paintings.

Platform Beer Co. | I had one of the most interesting beer flavors here - smoked pineapple sour.

Brick and Barrel Brewing | Cool space in a random industrial neighborhood I couldn't tell you the name of.

Mitchell's Ice Cream | I'm used to going to their location in my hometown of Westlake, but their location in Ohio City is really nice and you can watch them prepare and package their ice cream from an observation deck. It smells like waffles.

Apple Cart Ice Cream | I'm upset that I didn't actually get to have any apple cart ice cream this time. But I felt like I still needed to add it to the list because it is one of my favorite places to take people in Cleveland when the weather is nice. This is another place that I've been going to to since before I was born. The best soft serve. My order is always a small vanilla with candy eyes!