Thursday, July 21, 2016

What I've Been Eating - Fast Casual


Disclaimer: I was offered a free meal at each of these places in exchange for social media coverage. However, I am highlighting the following places in a blog post because I truly enjoyed them and would recommend them for anyone interested in fast casual fare in the Austin area.




1000 Degrees Pizza
So, to be honest, this is the third build-your-own pizza place I've been invited to. And while I've politely Instagram-ed my experience at each, I'm honestly not a huge pizza person, so I wasn't super jazzed about those experiences. However, 1000 Degrees Pizza is no ordinary pizza joint. Yes, it's build-your-own (are those trendy right now? There's SO MANY!) but something about this one is just worlds better than the rest. For one, the crust is perfect. Many quick pizza joints fall victim to a soggy or under-cooked crust. Or they use that whole "flatbread" situation which is cheating. 1000 Degrees uses hand-stretched dough that is baked in a wood-fired oven and it is crisp and chewy at the same time. The sauces are fresh and flavorful, as are the toppings. I got a BBQ chicken pizza and it was one of the best I've ever had.



PhoNatic
I've been so side-tracked by ramen lately that I totally forgot my first love bowl: Pho. However, maybe it was the 100 degree Austin weather or just my own need for spice, but what truly stood out here for me were the noodle and rice bowls--don't get me wrong, the Pho is perfectly satisfying, but what really stood out to me were those bowls! We tried the Pat's Plate (marinated pork shoulder, jasmine rice, fried egg, be still my heart) and the Lemongrass Beef bowl and both were amazing. So much flavor! We also very much enjoyed the "Banh Mi Sliders" which actually were bao with banh mi fillings. We will definitely be back for all of these items soon, and once the cold weather hits we'll be back at those Pho bowls.


Modern Market
I mean, they say it best on their own website: "great tasting, healthy food made from ingredients you can trust for a reasonable price"--and it's exactly that! Plus their motto, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They also serve pizzas (the Bacon Corn, omggg) but my favorite thing was actually the salads. They're just so fresh and unique. I was a huge fan of the Farmer salad, which has mixed greens, roasted Red Bird chicken, grapes, feta, roasted corn, almond, champagne vinaigrette. Their sandwiches were also incredible--I wish I had a location closer to my office, I'd lunch there all the time! Basically, everything on their menu is great. And their dedication to sustainable produce is awesome. The owner was telling me that their goat cheese is produced by a single farm, and Modern Market provides over 50% of the farm's revenue for the year. Plus their menu has options for every diet.

Be sure to check their websites to see if there are any locations near you!

Monday, July 18, 2016

FFFB Mystery Box Challenge - Chipotle Pecan Chicken with Cold Couscous Salad


The Fuckin Fab Food Bloggers are at it again! We sent each other Mystery Boxes for our #WhatsIntheBox Chopped-esque challenge. I sent a box to Matt of Nomigeddon and I received a box from Julie of Bread, Booze, Bacon.


Here's my video of my unboxing, which I originally posted to our #FFFB Facebook group:


video

So my items were... Israeli couscous, bacon jam, and pecans. All from one of my favorite stores: Trader Joe's. Delicious! But how to combine them? What to do, what to do... First I wondered if I could somehow make a dessert. Perhaps use the couscous as tapioca? But the couscous was a little too savory for that.


Then the idea came to me to make a cold couscous salad. Light, refreshing, and summery! But I wanted a more substantial meal last night, so I decided to kind-of cheat and make two separate components to the same overall meal.

I made pecan crusted chicken drumsticks (with chipotle mayo as the binder) with the couscous salad and made the bacon jam into a vinaigrette for the salad. The result was extremely tasty! I never would have put these things together, but they paired beautifully and I made a delicious salad with chicken.

Check out the rest of the FFFB crew's recipes, too!



Chipotle Pecan Chicken with Cold Couscous Salad
  • 5 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup mayonaise
  • 1 cup honey roasted pecans (I used about 1/4 cup of almond meal as well)
  • 1 tbsp chipotle sauce (the liquid from a can of chipotle peppers)
  • 1 1/3 cups Isralei cous cous
  • 1 vegetable boullion cube
  • ~1 cup chopped veggies (I used cucumber, shallot, carrot, tomato)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp bacon jam
  • 1 tsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the chicken drumsticks with the mayo and the chipotle sauce in a zip bag. Set aside for 10 minutes.

-Pulse the pecans and almond meal in a food processor until fine. Roll the mayo-coated chicken in the mixture and place onto a well-oiled wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Spray liberally with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees F and the juices run clear.

-Prepare the cous cous according to the package (equal parts water plus the boullion cube) and let cool completely. Stir in the feta and the chopped veggies and refrigerate until cold.

-Prepare the vinaigrette: mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, bacon jam, chopped shallot, and garlic. Shake vigerously. Pour about 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette into the couscous.

-Serve hot chicken and cold salad together.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Makin Bacon Pancakes - Adventure Time Themed Dish for #ToonFood


Can you guess what my favorite cartoon is?

I'll give you a hint. I named my cats Finn and Marceline.



Adventure Time! I think it's one of the few shows that both adults AND kids can enjoy on the same level. It's smart and sweet while also being a whole lot of fun. So when the Nomicon blogger group decided to do a day of Toon Food, I knew what show I'd be representing!


But what to make? Jake's Perfect Sandwich (oh man I wanted to, but lobster soul is hard to come by!)? Princess Bubblegum Cupcakes? Treetrunk's Apple Pie?

Oh guys. Isn't it obvious?


Bacon Pancakes! And yes, I did sing this song the entire time. I amped it up with a splash of bourbon and some dark chocolate chips. And yeah, it's pretty bad ass. You could even say... it's Mathmatical!



Jake's Bacon Pancakes (Adventure Time)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled*
  • 1 tbsp apple pie spice
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

-In a small saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter--let it froth and boil until it turns a caramel color and smells nutty--then take off the heat and let it cool until lukewarm.

-Sift together the flour, apple pie spice, and baking powder.

-In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, bourbon, and browned butter. Slowly add the dry ingredients, stirring constantly. Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

-Pour batter by the 1/3rd cupful onto a hot skillet. Cook each side for about three minutes, until golden brown. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

*for extra bacon flavor, leave the grease in the pan and cook your pancakes in it! I even subbed in a tablespoon of butter for a tablespoon of bacon grease.


And don't forget to check out the other awesome blogger dishes!



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Austin Love and Cheesy Low Carb Chicken



Have I mentioned how much I love Austin?

No, really. I freaking love this place.

Most of the things I miss about Massachusetts can be summed up thusly: I miss friends, family, the beach, and autumn. Other than that, meh. I guess I could say I miss being surrounded by my same political party (#ReadyForHillary FTW! (don't hate me please)) but honestly... Austin at least is pretty forward-thinking. Otherwise... Austin is perfect.


I've just felt this awesome content-ness lately and a lot of it has to do with living here. Coupled with the magic that is lexapro it's really helped my depression a lot.

The heat has hit and people are beginning to hide away in their air conditioning. Meanwhile, I'm working on my freckly-as-feck suntan. As soon as I'm out of work I'm by the pool with a book. And probably not blogging as much as I should. I really need to get that content calendar back up and running...



Anyways. This involves turning on the oven, so maybe save it for a day under 100 degrees. But trust me, it's worth it. We've been making this at least once a week--it's the picky-eater fiancé's new favorite dinner! Plus it's relatively low carb, so it's sort-of diet friendly!




Cheesy Low Carb Chicken

  • 6 chicken thighs (bone in preferred)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (or regular, your choice)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp cajun seasoning
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp jalapeno ranch dressing (or ranch with a jalapeno smooshed in)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix together the eggs and jalapeno ranch, set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the almond flour and cajun seasoning and set aside.

Roll each chicken thigh in flour. Then, dip in the egg mixture.

Sprinkle about a tablespoon of cheese on the chicken, then coat with the almond flour.

Place chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil. Bake for 30 minutes, until an internal temp of 165 degrees F is reached and juices run clear.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Boozy Pops - Peach Moonshine Iced Tea


The temps have finally hit 100 degrees in Austin, and so everyone is complaining. The summer before I got here, apparently there were 100 days of 100 degrees or higher.

Guys, I came from the friggin NORTH. I will deal with 365 days of 100 degrees just to have no more 0 degrees days. Plus the humidity here isn't half what it is in New England, so I'm grateful. Can you tell I'm not a fan of the cold?


Plus, I know how to cool off (and booze up!) when I need to: boozy popsicles. All you need is a shot or two, a pop mold, and some juice, and any cocktail you can dream of is available in popsicle form. Aren't shots more fun when you can down 'em in popsicle form!


Boozy Moonshine Pops

  • 2 cups iced tea
  • 2-3 shots peach flavored moonshine
  • 6 sour cherries

-Pour an equal amount of the moonshine into each popsicle mold, about 1/4 of the way full. Pour the iced tea to fill the mold nearly 3/4ths of the way full, and place a few cherries in each.

-Freeze until firm, overnight if possible.

-Gently squeeze molds and turn upside down to release popsicles, being careful not to pull the stick out without the pop (they will be soft, so being gentle is key!)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Paleo Buffalo Bites and DIETING IS HARD.


You guys. Dieting is hard. I'm not even doing much at this point other than inputing my daily food intake into an app that tells me how many calories I've consumed for the day--in an effort to, you know, just be AWARE--and I'm already stressing out.

I can't have wine AND Ben and Jerry's? I can't drink five hard ciders? How many carbs are in a slice of toast? IS BACON GOOD OR BAD CAN YOU PLEASE JUST TELL ME?? Gah!


As someone who was always effortlessly skinny, the closer I get to 30 the closer my butt gets to the size of Texas. I've never HAD to adjust my habits (or create totally new ones, ugh, exercise) so now that I'm past my peak years it's rough. Such a "first world problem," I know, and I'm still fairly slender by non-Hollywood standards, but still. It's a pain in the butt to be so painfully aware of my butt.

And then I remember my first favorite blog, and how the brave and wonderful Andie Mitchell lost the equivalent of a PERSON just by making healthier decisions, a bit at a time, and finding the beautiful compromise in her favorite foods.

So I had a stroke of inspiration--why not make a low carb version of my favorite indulgence? I thought back to my favorite Paleo chicken recipe (from the lovely Steph of Stupid Easy Paleo) and adjusted a bunch of things to make them suit my craving for boneless buffalo wings.


These won't get super crispy, but they'll have the texture of a buffalo sauce-soaked boneless wing from your favorite pub.


Paleo Buffalo Bites

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small strips
  • 1/2 cup pickle juice
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot (I don't know if this is truly Paleo, so sub in what you will)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/8 cup coconut flour
  • water

For the Ranch Dip
(adapted from Paleo Grubs)
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1/8 cup coconut milk (I used coconut almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp dill

-Pour the pickle juice over the chicken and let sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

-Whisk together all ingredients for ranch dip, chill until chicken is done.

-In a shallow bowl, whisk together the garlic salt, pepper, egg, almond flour, and coconut flour until thick. Add just enough water so that the batter is about as thick as pancake mix--it should be thick but flow and drip off the spoon slowly.

-Remove chicken from juice. Pat dry. Dip into the batter and place on a well-greased or non-stick cookie sheet.

-Cook until the coating is dry and the internal temp of the chicken is 165 degrees--about 15 minutes.

-GENTLY coat with the Frank's Red Hot. I say gently, because the breading will fall off if you're not careful. I poured a bit of sauce into a bowl, placed the chicken on top, then poured a bit more sauce over them and used a fork to roll it around.

-Serve with the ranch dressing.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lazy Ass Sangria



You guys have no idea how apropos this title is. Or, maybe you do, considering I've been shit at updating my blog. I can't even give the ol' "weeelll I was working on my BOOK #humblebrag" because my BOOK has been submitted and edited and all that and I've had nothing to do on it for a few months now.

The best way I can describe my lack of time for blogging is this: 2015 was a creative drought. To make up for it, I'm currently ODing on as many creative outlets as possible. In addition to my improv troupe, I'm trying to start a new troupe, getting more involved in other theaters, and am taking sketch classes. On top of THAT I'm doing guitar lessons and Kickball.


Okay, so, Kickball--not too creative--but I need more social things and this one involves drinking in parks while playing gym class games so win.

And I'm attempting to diet for the millionth time and I don't know how many times you really would want to see my cauliflower fried rice recipe because it's my go-to low carb, low cal meal.

Wine time with flattering filters

BUT. There's always time for wine, amirightladies?

While I love love love red wine, in the Austin summer you really want something cold. So, there's sangria. But, sometimes you don't want to make an entire carafe of it because you're an adult with responsibilities and shouldn't be drinking so much. So you make a glass. And because who has the time to wait for it to chill, you use frozen fruit. Trust me.

DIET HACK: Using low calorie seltzer or sparkling juice helps to make the wine last longer without adding calories. WIN.

god damn my ducklips game has gone downhill since college

Drink this. Do it. Do it now.

All the shit you need.

Lazy Ass Sangria

  • 1 cup mild red wine
  • 1/2 shot fruit flavored vodka
  • 1 handful frozen fruit
  • ~1/4 cup seltzer or sparkling juice

-Pour everything into a large wine glass and give it a swirl.

-Drink. Then eat the fruit because it'll be nice and boozy!