Monday, February 13, 2017

What's Ashley Eating? - Old Thousand, Austin TX

I received a complimentary 5 course meal at Old Thousand for their Chinese New Year Dinner for purpose of review. All opinions are my own, and I would never endorse a product/service/restaurant I didn't personally recommend to my readers.

I'm trying a bunch of new things in the blog this year, and restaurant reviews are one of them! As a member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, I often get invites to new restaurant openings, or special happy hours for bloggers in town. To say thank you to the many places that let us sample their menu, as well as places I've stumbled onto on my own, I've decided to create a new series called What's Ashley Eating


Old Thousand's art is adorable.

I have a unique problem in Austin. I cannot find crappy food. And by crappy, I don't mean inedible, I mean that inauthentic, overly sugared, super Americanized versions of things like tacos that I found in my little area of Massachusetts until moving to foodie-paradise Austin, Texas. 

Old Thousand is not the mall Chinese food I grew up with. Not by a long shot. So, it's not going to quell my craving for greasy takeout. But it's definitely where I'm going to go for delicious Chinese food from now on!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of experiencing their Chinese New Year dinner. I brought along my seafood-neutral fiance, who I fully intended on buying a side of chicken something-or-other once we saw the menu was heavy on the seafood, but as it turns out, I didn't need to.

Every course was perfect. The seafood was fresh, devoid of the "fishy" taste and full of flavor. Unfortunately, the low-lighting meant I didn't get the best pictures, but trust me. Everything was amazing.

I'm not sure if this was typical of Saturday nights, or just because it was Chinese New Year, but walk-ups were told there was a 3 hour wait. We had reservations, but ended up being seated at the bar. So, I'd definitely advise you to make reservations, and specify a non-bar seat if you want a table. We enjoyed the close proximity to the kitchen, though, it was cool to see the chefs in action!

Oh and don't ignore their cocktail menu. The bartenders know their stuff and while the cocktails are pricey (I think my Old Fashioned was $12), they're worth it.

Here's what I got to sample!

SPICY CUCUMBER SALAD & DRY FRIED LONG BEANs - First up, we had some tasty veggies. I am pretty sure the green beans were switched out with broccoli rabe and woodyear mushrooms, because the pictures I have do not look like green beans. I loved the broccoli rabe mix, the veggies were cooked to a perfect al dente and seasoned well. I kept the spicy cucumber salad as a palate cleanser throughout the meal. I'm glad I did, as the rich food needed something in between courses!

LION HEAD MEATBALL SOUP (Meatball stuffed with crab). This was probably my least favorite course, but I still really liked it! The broth-to-noodle ratio was a bit off, I would have liked more broth, but the idea of a seafood-stuffed meatball was too good to pass up either way.

SALT & PEPPER CRAB - Probably my favorite course. I've never had fried crab before! The batter was delightfully seasoned and just a little bit spicy.

CANTONESE ROASTED CHICKEN - You know it's good when it's served on a fancy log. And goodness, this was flavorful! The chicken was so moist and tender and perfectly seasoned on its own, but the accompanying sauce just hit it out of the park.

DAN TA ( egg custard, meyer lemon, and vanilla). The perfect end to the meal. I love ending on a light, sweet custard with fruit. I've never been much for heavy desserts, so this was perfect.

Old Thousand is a delicious, authentic Chinese Food restaurant with its own modern twist. The menu is reasonably priced--the meal I got was a $70 two-person special, but most entrees are under $20. Overall, it's a great new restaurant that fits right in here in Austin. Definitely check it out!

Old Thousand is located on 1000 E 11th Street in Austin, Texas. and is open from 5pm to 11pm/12am daily.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's Day Hot Buttered Bourbon for Two with Drizly

 I received a complimentary delivery through Drizly as well as gift cards to facilitate my review and recipe. All opinions are my own.

Have y'all heard about Drizly? It's an awesome alcohol delivery service.  According to their website, they work with local stores so you can shop their shelves using your smartphone or computer to order beer, wine and liquor at the touch of a button.

I was lucky enough to get to try their service and it was just as easy as it sounds! If you're 21, you like booze, and you don't want to leave your house, it's a great way to get any number of excellent beer, wine, and cocktail fixin's right to your door.

I don't know about you guys, but getting booze delivered to my door on Valentine's Day seems just as good, if not better, than getting chocolates! Even if you don't have a special someone to share a bottle of wine or cozy warm beverage with (see my recipe below!) Drizly is a great way to get good booze quickly.

Alright so, about this drink--it's RED VELVET hot buttered BOURBON. It's like my favorite things got together to give me a wonderous Valentine's Day treat! I plan on sharing

Red Velvet Hot Buttered Bourbon
(Makes about two large mug's worth)

  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup bourbon - I used Bulleit that I got delivered straight from Drizly! Click here to add it to your cart now!
  • 1 cup boiling water

Topping: sprinkles and whipped cream.

-Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the cocoa powder, food coloring, whipping cream, and spices.

-Spoon the batter into a blender or food processor and, while running, slowly pour in the bourbon and boiling water (do this with the top ON, make sure your food processor or blender has an opening for this!).

-Serve in a mug with a bit of whipped cream and sprinkles

Friday, February 3, 2017

These are a Few of my Favorite Things 2

Happy Three Year Anniversary of being our dog, Lily! <3

Happy New Year, everyone! Well, I guess I'm a little late with that... happy, Valentine's Day season? I know it's a weird time for some people, whether you're not in a relationship and feeling lonely or you're in one and feeling pressured. Cory and I typically stay in, unplug, and make a delicious meal together. I don't know how I'll top the "surf, turf, and sky" dinner I made a few years back, but we'll see!

Did you see my recent recipe post? Check out how to make a delicious One Pot Pork Loin Dinner!

Now, onto my favorite things!

Here's where I share things related to food/blogging/cooking/restaurants that I have discovered and/or received for review. If there's a *, I've received a product gratis from the company for purpose of reviewing.

Old Thousand* - We were invited to an amazing Chinese New Year dinner here and I was extremely impressed. I think I've finally found my favorite Chinese food in Austin! The meal was a four course traditional new year's menu:

LION HEAD MEATBALL SOUP (Meatball stuffed with crab)
DAN TA ( egg custard, meyer lemon, and vanilla)

Isla* - I attended an Austin Food Blogger Alliance happy hour at the popular Peche sister restaurant, and got to sample a number of items. They all were delicious, but I ended up ordering a few fresh oysters to supplement the snacks and I am SO glad I did! These are hands-down the freshest, most flavorful oysters I have found in the city. I will definitely be back.

Salsa Maya - I discovered this amazing condiment after sampling it at Spec's. And my life will never be the same. It's aioli with habanero, but the spice isn't overwhelming and the creamy texture balances it nicely. Using the jarred spicy mayo, I make an incredible crusted chicken, but what I really love is that you can buy them in little ketchup-packet-sized amounts. I keep some in my purse for when my lunch needs a little kick!

Things I find on the internet and stuff.

Stay informed! See a rage-inducing news bite on social media? Be sure to check out Politifact's Truthometer and Snopes to make sure it's legit.

Does anyone remember Neopets? My account is nearly FIFTEEN years old now--wow!

Catana, a web comic... is she secretly illustrating my own relationship? These are too cute.

I've never had a Scotch egg, but they look SO good! I think I'll try this recipe from Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen soon!

Each week I’m going to highlight a different thing I love in ATX. Might be a list, might be one highlight, who knows! This week it’s…

My Favorite Happy Hours

Peached Tortilla -Snacks and cocktails for $5, Tacos for $3, and a special burger for $7. Do yourself a favor and order the Kimchi Arrancini Balls and Mom's Toast (the owner's mother's own recipe) and pair it with a whiskey drink. This is hands-down my favorite happy hour in town!

Pacific Rim - Especially their $1 menu on Tuesdays! Holy balls this place is amazing. I ate my fill of fresh, delicious sushi for only $20 last Tuesday. Color me impressed. Also enjoy select saki for $3-$5.

Tacos n' Tequila - Mondays they have a $1.50 build-your-own taco bar, and the rest of the week they have decent discounts on their expertly crafted cocktails. Definitely go on Monday if you can! Their unique taco offerings are great and reasonably priced, too, if you miss Monday's taco bar.

Odd Duck - One of the places I can only really afford DURING Happy Hour, I love the little bites Odd Duck offers during this time. Their menu is highly seasonal, so stop in for a $5 beer and whatever the chef has whipped up.

Salty Sow - $5 snack menu and discounted drinks. All of the yes. This is another place I don't frequent other than happy hour (unless it's "date night") but my favorite thing to do is order one of everything off the menu!

Question of the week: What charities and organizations do you donate to?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One Pan Honey Dijon Pork Loin

Surprise! Did you know that planning a wedding, publishing a book, having a full time job all while trying to have a social life is like, kind of difficult? Oh, and when you feel like the world is becoming a really scary place... doesn't help with the stress of it all.

Who knew, right?

But, thankfully, I discovered a backlog of recipes and have edited the photos SO hopefully I'll have some extra content to toss in between those sponsored posts :) I'll keep the political activism to my personal Facebook and keep this blog a lovely haven of delicious food. Because regardless of what the world is like, we all need to eat.

Whether you're busy with normal adulting or you're one of those people who has children under your care (I can't even imagine right now--working mothers, you're incredible) quick and easy dinners are a GODSEND.

I'm trying to fit into that dang wedding dress, so it's imperative I don't let my busy schedule dictate a fast food diet. That's why this one pan dinner is so awesome! Yeah, it's a little more involved than takeout, but so tasty and so simple, it's really worth it.

Simply use tinfoil to partition your cookie sheet into three equal portions, dress your ingredients like so, and bake. Viola! The dish comes out absolutely delish, with a variety of flavors and textures.

Easy One Pan Honey Dijon Pork Loin and Veggies
For the pork loin

  • 2 lb pork loin
  • 2 tbsp large grain dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper

For the carrots

  • 2 cups carrots
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper

For the potatoes

  • 3 large potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp herbs de provance
  • salt and pepper

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

-Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil, and partition into three sections (use a second roll of tin foil and pinch up in between each section), spray liberally with cooking spray of choice.

-Whisk together the glaze for the pork loin and rub all over meat. Place in the first portion of the pan.

-Toss together the ingredients for the carrots, and put in the center portion.

-Toss together the ingredients for the potatoes, and put in the third portion.

-Cook for one hour, or until internal temperature of the pork hits 145 degrees F. At a half hour, check the carrots and potatoes. Turn vegetables with a spatula for even crisping, or remove from pan if they are cooked to your liking.

-Once pork is done, let rest for ten minutes. Slice and serve. Use drippings as sauce, if desired.

Monday, January 23, 2017

TJs, My Love - The best things to buy at Trader Joe's

Everyone knows the grocery store to steal my heart is my beloved HEB. But we're not in an exclusive relationship--some things are just better at good ol' Trader Joe's.

And no, it's not just the Three Buck Chuck, I promise.

TJ's is a bit of a trek for me, so when I visit I stock up on certain essentials. Here's what I buy whenever I'm in the area!

I've seen butter creeping up on $4/lb at other grocery stores, but Trader Joe's keeps the cost of their store-brand pretty low! At least three of the unsalted packs make it into my cart as I pass by the dairy aisle.

Another item that you can get anywhere but is such a great value at TJ's--their whole roasting chickens. Roast one of these on a Sunday and have a lovely dinner, pull the extra meat off for tacos, enchiladas, or chicken salad, and throw the bones in a crock pot with some aromatics and make a delicious broth. For a few bucks more you can even get an organic chicken.

Yes, I can find olive oil on the cheap just about anywhere. But this olive oil is QUALITY. I use it for cooking or in salad dressing and the flavor just cannot be beat. Italian olive oil in your average grocery store just can't compare.

Shelf stable whipping cream is a godsend. DOES THIS EXIST ANYWHERE ELSE? If it does, I cannot find it to save my life. And it definitely saves my life on the regular when I'm cooking. I keep at least six of these in my pantry, and one in the fridge. It whips up okay if chilled for long enough, but its real value is in adding rich creaminess to sauces, soups, and baked goods. I hate letting cream go bad, so the fact that this lasts for months on the shelf is a lifesaver.

They have the basic spices for a solid price and excellent quality, but pay close attention to the seasonal stock: I've found truffle salt for less than $5, and a variety of special salts, smoked herbs, and dry rubs, depending on the month.

I had never heard of bacon jerky before. But it is a magical, wonderful thing. And it's Sweet Sriracha which is... omg just try it. I stock up all the time because you never know when a magical product will be discontinued at TJ's!

Alternative flours are low priced at Trader Joe's. Sadly the almond meal has steadily increased in price over the years, but it's still the cheapest I've found. I love the coarse texture of this one, it makes a great breading for meat and veggies!

Can't quite master the macaron? It's okay, TJ's selection of frozen desserts offers not one, but TWO varieties of macaron! I love the fruit flavored ones. A few minutes on the countertop and they're just perfect.

The rest of their frozen food section ain't too shabby either! From hors d'ovres to fresh-frozen veggies, you can make a full meal in this aisle alone.

Their snacks are slightly better for you than average (natural ingredients, no GMOs, etc) AND they're way more inventive! I love this bacon cheddar popcorn and eat it by the handful. Again, the price is right, too. I can pay upwards of $4 for a similar item at most grocery stores.

Their "impulse buys" at the register are classy AF. No second-rate sugar treats and gum here, it's all quality. I love the cookie butter bar and the green tea mints!

And, finally, my old college friend Charles Shaw. Three Buck Chuck may have brought me into Trader Joe's long ago, but the quality, value, and creativity kept me there. I look forward to my monthly trips to this magical place!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stirrings Cocktail Mixer Holiday Blogger Challenge

Disclaimer: I received complimentary product for entering this contest. All opinions are my own.

The holiday season may be over, but cocktail season is all year long! This is my entry into the Stirrings Holiday Blogger Challenge!

Stirrings boasts "simply better cocktails" and with no preservatives and a wide variety of drink mixers to choose from, it's definitely a slogan that fits.

I received the 5 Calorie Margarita, and after drinking nearly half the bottle sampling the perfect Margarita proportions (can you blame me?), I switched gears and decided to use my favorite cocktail as inspiration: and old fashioned.

If you live in Austin, here's where you can pick up Stirrings cocktails: 1st Colony Liquors, Total Wines & More, 34 Wine & Liquors, 6S Spirits, ABC Liquors, 82 Liquor. I loved the 5 calorie margarita mix, but I also was able to sample the Bloody Mary and it was excellent.

This New Fashioned is a spicy upgrade to the typical whiskey drink--there's not even whiskey in it! It's kind of like a sipping margarita, and it packs quite the punch!

Don't forget to check out Stirrings on     FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

Stirrings' New Fashioned

  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1 oz Stirrings 5 Calorie Margarita Mix
  • 1/2 oz chile simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • 1 slice mango (+1 for garnish)
  • 2 shakes bitters
  • lime sparkling water, to fill

Chile simple syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

-For the syrup: in a saucepan over medium heat, warm the ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Take off heat and chill until ready to use.

-In a cocktail glass, muddle together the mango, bitters, and simple syrup.

-Add the tequila, and fill glass with ice. Pour sparkling water on top and mix until well blended.

-Serve with a mango slice garnish.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Happy New Year, everyone!

Alrighty, so I love weekly roundups of bloggers' favorite things. I don't know why, I guess it's like getting advice/suggestions from an old friend--even if it's an old friend I've never met. This one has been in the works for MONTHS, so it's slightly outdated but still accurate in that these are things I love.

If it does well, maybe I'll do more!

Here's where I share things related to food/blogging/cooking/restaurants that I have discovered and/or received for review. If there's a *, I've received a product gratis from the company for purpose of reviewing.

I received a handful of Dreamfarm items for purpose of review, and since I’d never heard of them before I didn’t quite know what to expect. Turns out, their products are very well made and EXTREMELY useful! I had no idea that I had a need for measuring cups with a built-in leveler, or a spatula with a built-in bend for optimal flipping, and now I can’t imagine my kitchen without them!

I am lucky to live in the state of Texas, where receiving alcohol via the mail is actually legal. This is exciting, because I was given a sample of the Drizly service recently. It works like any other delivery service: order booze, get it delivered. Just make sure the person ordering is the same one answering the door, since you need photo ID. I was excited to receive my favorite bourbon, Bulleit, and the transaction with my delivery person was pleasant and quick. I definitely will be taking advantage of this service when I’m throwing a party and the libations are running low!

Full disclosure: they’re sending me a 3 day cleanse for review, and I will be blogging my thoughts throughout the process. O’Joy is a local austin juice and smoothie shop that goes beyond a simple cafe and offers all sorts of healthful living tools--like meal plans, cleanses, and catering. They use organic and/or locally grown ingredients in all their items, and their shop also sells sandwiches and light lunches. What’s truly great about O’Joy though, is that they donate to charities that fight hunger, and have made it a major part of their business. I’m so excited to try their cleanse! Hopefully it will let me ease into some healthier habits.

Things I find on the internet and stuff.

Buzzfeed’s 30 Day Fitness Challenge - I said on the 1st I'd do this... I haven't yet, but it seems do-able!
I wrote a thing! Paste: 12 Easy Recipes Every Adult Should Know 
Paste: Best Political Food Moments. Food and politics go together like Ben & Jerry's and Bernie Sanders. Who knew?
Food Blogger Friend: Sriracha Bacon Lobster Rolls from Nomageddon--yum!
Thank you letter to musical theater parents  - As a musical theater kid, this really hit home for me.

Each week I’m going to highlight a different thing I love in ATX. Might be a list, might be one highlight, who knows! This week it’s…

Best Brunches! Because yes, I am a basic bitch. I’ve been lucky enough to hit some prime brunch spots lately and I’d love to share my findings.

Vinaigrette - We had our Austin Food Blogger Alliance holiday party here and I am still DREAMING of the chile corn cakes ever since. Their food is fresh and amazing.
Goodnite - This is one of those secret gems I always turn to when I want delicious brunch and no wait. Extra points: free bowling on Sundays!

Swift’s Attic - Make reservations. Trust me, it’s a madhouse on weekends. We were quoted a 3 hour wait one time as a walk-in! But it’s worth planning ahead for their bloody mary bar alone. I had a brunch bi bim bap that was to die for.

Snooze - I recently went to this lovely chain for brunch with a friend and we were blown away. There’s always a long wait, but they provide games to play outside and text you when the table is ready. Our service was incredible, and the food was just out of this world. PLUS, you can order half portions of nearly ANYTHING in order to sample the most amazing foods at once. Score!

New Fortune - What else can I say besides this is the best dim sum in the city? Track down the garlic shrimp. And get everything off the dessert cart. If you experience a wait, pop on over to the nearby boba shop and get a delicious tea!

Question of the week: How do you get yourself to exercise? I’d love some tips on finding a routine and sticking to it!