Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What I've Been Eating - Chicago and Indianapolis

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You guys. When I visited Chicago, it was still -10 degrees outside. So you KNOW this travel post is LOOOONG overdue! Since these were both work trips, I figured they would work best in their own little post, rather than two short posts. 

So, if you're headed to either of these cities in the near future, be sure to check out the restaurants I found fit to write about! Also, if you'd like to Follow Me on Yelp, please do! To get an up-to-date account of all my favorite places to visit in every new city I explore.
Coming soon... Denver!

Chicago



Two Lights - I only stopped in here because it was directly across from Second City, and it was such a happy accident. I got my fill on seafood for sure--with fresh oysters, a lobster roll, and some seriously bomb clam chowder. Oh, and don't forget dessert. Yummm. If you're taking in a show, or even if you're not!, be sure Two Lights is on your list.




Lou Malnatti's - I had to get Deep Dish, and this place came HIGHLY recommended. "There's two places to go, and Giordanno's." I went with the closest one, and was not disappointed! Deep dish is definitely an experience. Having grown up in the Northeast with the classic New York style, it almost didn't feel like "pizza" to me, but it was nonetheless delicious. Thick, buttery crust, tomato sauce (and you can TASTE the tomato! It's not bogged down with anything else but TOMATO), and savory sausage. Definitely a true taste of Chicago!



Girl and the Goat - Hands-down, the best meal I had in Chicago. Run by Top Chef Stephanie Izard, the menu is (obviously) goat-focused. While I've had goat before, none of it could hold a candle to these delicious, fresh, unique dishes. I started with bread from the bakery/diner across the street (Little Goat Diner!), then moved onto a goat empanada, and finally the braised goat belly with LOBSTER and bourbon butter sauce. Probably the best thing I've ever eaten. Reservations are impossible to come by here, but the bar was pretty empty in the middle of the week, so it's worth taking a chance and sitting at the bar--there's a full menu! If not, I've heard Little Goat Diner is also amazing.



Indianapolis



St. Elmo's Steakhouse - As a foodie, I always do my research. In Indy, I...didn't. Where the heck do you go in Indianapolis?? The one suggestion I got was from my boss--St. Elmo's Steakhouse, and be sure to get the shrimp cocktail! Okay? Turns out, their cocktail sauce is famous. Youtube it, and you'll find people taking the "challenge." Every person I told I was going to St. Elmo's said "Are you getting the shrimp cocktail?" Then, warningly, "Have you HAD IT BEFORE?" And they were right to warn me, holy hell that cocktail sauce is FIRE. There is more horseradish in that sauce than anyone should ever have at one time. But thankfully, the burn is quick and it's an all around experience. I ordered a moderately priced steak, of course topped with crab, and did I want to upgrade my soup to lobster bisque? Um, duh. St. Elmo's was a steakhouse my dad would have adored, and my foodie self was more than satisfied. This place is very busy--it took over a half hour to get even just a seat at the bar!--so make sure to make reservations.





The Eagle - Located in a trendy part of town, this place has legit fried chicken. I don't know what else I can say about it, honestly. I got a quarter fried chicken and it was perfectly flavorful and moist. To start, I got the hushpuppies and those were ALSO incredibly flavorful and perfectly fried. I didn't check out their alcohol menu, but it looked like it would do the job. If you're in the Mass Ave area, definitely don't miss The Eagle!


Indianapolis City Market - Want a little sample of everything the Indianapolis food scene has to offer? This is the place for you. From sandwiches to tacos to seafood and Asian fusion, this place has it all! I circled three times, not knowing what to order. Finally, the pizza from Mauricio's Pizzaria caught my eye and I had two wonderful slices. Next time I'm back in town I'll definitely check out the other options! 


These are two cities I'm in often for work, so... where should I go next??

Psssst! Did you see my post about what to eat in Alaska? Check it out!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Peach Bourbon Old Fashioned - Perfect Texas Summer Sipper

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It's Summertime in Texas, and that means one thing: PEACHES!

Actually, it means quite a few things. But after a stroll through Fredericksburg this weekend reminded me that peach season is in full swing. And while Georgia may have the peach market saturated, Texas definitely holds its own.


Fresh peach goes extremely well with bourbon. The sweet notes blend perfectly with the spice and smoke. I love crushing fresh peaches into a cold glass of bourbon, and an Old Fashioned is the perfect way to showcase this delicious summer fruit.

For an elevated flavor, try grilling the peaches first!


Texas Peach Old Fashioned
  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Texas Honey lemonade (basic lemonade recipe with honey swapped for sugar)
  • 1 or 2 splashes Grapefruit bitters
  • 1 cherry
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 slice ripe peach, no peel

-In a cocktail glass, muddle together the cherry, orange zest, and peach together. Shake in the bitters.

-Fill glass with ice, and pour bourbon and lemonade over.

-Sip slowly, and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Spicy Summer Gazpacho

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Happy summer, y'all! We are WELL into the sweltering months here in Texas, how about you? I don't mind it though. I'd trade 1 New England winter for 100 Texas summers ANY day!

You do need to learn how to handle the heat here, though. Which is why when I'm craving a delicious way to get my veggies in, I whip up an easy gazpacho.


By using a combination of cooked and fresh veggies, the flavors are wonderfully complex. And chilling the soup overnight helps those flavors develop even more.

Add with a slice of warm bread and butter, and this is the perfect summer meal!



Spicy Summer Gazpacho

  • 2-4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, OR one jar roasted red peppers
  • 1 cucumber, seedless preferred
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice (I use spicy!)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 2+ cloves garlic (do you like garlic? I add up to 5!)
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sliced scallions, for garnish
  • pinch of cayenne, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche, for garnish, OR 1 tbsp sour cream + 1 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper

-Dice the following veggies: tomatoes, pepper, cucumber (peel it first!), onion, and garlic.

-Over medium heat, heat a bit of the olive oil. Cook HALF of the veggies you just chopped until soft. BONUS: if you'd like to ROAST the veggies in the oven first, even better! But for a hot summer's day, stovetop might save on the AC ;)

-Let the veggies cool to room temperature. Reserve a few of the fresh veggie dice for garnish, if desired, and put the rest of the non-garnish ingredients into a blender and pulse until mixture is smooth or desired consistency. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

-Pour into a bowl and let chill overnight. Serve cold, with garnishes.


Thursday, June 27, 2019

What I've Been Eating - Anchorage, Alaska

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Read on for my list of The Best Places to Eat in Anchorage, Alaska!


Glacier Brewhouse



HANDS-DOWN the BEST meal I had in Anchorage! Everything here was delicious--the beer, the apps, the meals, the DESSERT! Ahhh I can't stop thinking about it. We had literally just hopped off the plane and were famished. So we started with the pretzels and pub cheese. The pretzels were soft with just a bit of a buttery crisp, and the cheese was so good we saved the remainder for our fries once we'd wolfed down the pretzels.


I'm not a beer connoisseur, but I adored every taste in my flight. The standout for me was the raspberry ale. I love a good fruit beer and this one was refreshing without being too sweet. I also love a good stout, and the oatmeal stout delivered.


And OH MY GOD the FISH AND CHIPS was the BEST I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. And this is saying a lot, considering I grew up in New England. For starters, it comes with a cup of chowder, which was excellent, and a side slaw that was the perfect palate cleanser for the dense meal. The fried fish was perfect. PERFECT. It was fresh, flavorful, and the breading was perfectly seasoned and amazingly crispy. My friend had the chicken sandwich and said it was just as good. We also took home two desserts--the Peanutbutter Pie and the Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake. They made for a great midnight snack while we enjoyed the long long summer day before turning in for the night.

Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse


We sort of accidentally had dinner here. We'd planned on popping by for a Pride event, but ended up making friends at the bar and settling into our stools for longer than planned, and food was eventually necessary.

I love oysters and get them everywhere I can. I was a little suspicious of cold water oysters, as I didn't realize that was a thing, but these were fresh and tasty. Just the right amount of fishy flavor and accompaniments.


Next we wanted to try reindeer, and what better way than Nachos? The plate was piled so high that we didn't even need a full meal for dinner. The nachos stayed crisp, were piled with toppings, and reindeer was seasoned like tacos.


Humpy's feels like a neighborhood bar, but the food is next level and the beer selection is vast. If you want a laid back introduction to the local bar scene, Humpy's is a great start!

49th State Brewing


I was dying for a taste of Alaskan King Crab during my first trip to Alaska, and 49th State DELIVERED! Not only that, but when I asked if there was a smaller portion (the $60+ one was ONE AND A HALF POUNDS!) they offered me a half pound or full pound for $25 and $50 respectively. I went for the half pound, sides included, and it was more than enough.


The crab was fresh, light, and utterly packed with meat. A half pound was only one enormous leg, but it was enough. The asparagus and polenta were also solid, and the elk meatball we got as an app was delicious. I was surprised to find Alaskan elk not gamey at all, and it basically tasted like a leaner beef.

A few tips: Try their beer! They only serve their own brews, so if you're wanting a beer that's really your only option. IPA lovers will find more than enough to sample. If the wait is long, opt for open seating in the bar. But be aware that it may take longer for food to arrive.



Other Things I Ate
And here are the other assorted things I ate in Alaska, not tied to a particular restaurant.

WHALE


Yep, I tried whale. Actually, I've tried whale before, but it was a very different kind: In Iceland it was a minske whale, cooked like a beautiful medium rare steak. In Alaska--to be specific, on our mini trip to Barrow/Utqiagvik--our tour guide actually called a relative to bring our group some to try. It's illegal to sell whale or any other native food, so this was our only chance to try real Alaskan whale from a family that catches it themselves. We ate it cold and raw, and it reminded me of an oyster. Not my favorite thing, but really cool that I got to try it!

FRY BREAD

Not only whale, but our tour guide brought us some fried bread to try. This is like their dinner roll. She explained that since their food is so rich, they typically use the bread to sop up the juices. It tasted like a savory donut.

REINDEER HOT DOG


Not only did I try it on the nachos, but I also got a reindeer hotdog. I was shocked at how un-deer-like it was. Not gamey at all, just tasted like lean beef. I can see why it's a popular choice in Alaska!

REALLY EXPENSIVE GROCERIES


In Barrow/Utqiagvik, there is no way to get to the town other than plane. Groceries all are shipped in via barge a couple times a year or flown in. This means groceries are EXPENSIVE. $9 for JUICE?? Our B&B hosts told us they actually fly to Costco a few times a year to buy groceries, since flying them in is cheaper than buying them at the store. Thankfully, our hosts made homecooked meals for a small fee, and we were very well fed during this excursion!

That's it! What do you think of my suggestions? Have YOU ever been to Alaska? Let me know!

Paleo Vegan Fudge Pops - Maybe Also Sort of Keto?

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I seem to make boozy ice cream whenever I make an ice cream recipe. These Paleo Vegan Fudge Pops are, surprisingly, not alcoholic. I didn't realize I was such an Ice Cream Lush, hah! Reminds me of that line in GrownUps when the little girl says "I WANT TO GET CHOCOLATE WASTED!" I don't want to get chocolate wasted, but maybe just chocolate buzzed? Buzzed sounds good.

Anyway. This was my attempt at a "paleo" recipe, since when I want to attempt to be on a diet that's the one I go to. Since it's a "treat" it doesn't reeeeally count, but at least it's a slightly less guilty treat, right?

Bonus points: IT IS DAIRY FREE.


I was going to dip these in dark chocolate, but I made my batch a bit too soft–as you can see, they got a little floppy pretty quickly. That's just fine by me though, since they turned out like ice cream on a stick. Perfect!


Coconut Cream Fudge Bars
  • 1 can coconut milk, cream separated (upside down in the fridge over night, cream scooped off)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 heaping tablespoons agave nectar or honey
-In a stand mixer, whip the coconut cream until fluffy. Fold in the cocoa powder and agave. Add about 2 tablespoons of the coconut water (leftover from the can). If you want softer pops, less coconut water. More firm, more water.

-Adjust cocoa and agave until desired taste is reached. Side note: at this point it's a LOVELY chocolate mousse.

-Fill popsicle wells and leave about one finger width headspace. Freeze until firm, preferably overnight.

-Note: the pops will be soft, so remove gently from wells once frozen.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Apartment BBQ Chicken - Easy Homemade Sauce

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Guess what. In most urban apartment complexes, charcoal grills are not allowed. Nor are smokers.

That's right: I'm in Texas, the LAND OF BBQ and I am denied my own BBQ setup.

It's really quite a tragedy.

There's a communal one in the pool area, but then you must brave the hoards of little children to get to it. Or wait in line while someone else grills up burgers. I'm also pretty sure you have to supply your own charcoal and I don't trust that whoever used it prior will be so kind.

And since I can't quite afford to go out for deeeelicious BBQ (maybe at Salt Lick, or Rudy's, or someday even Franklin's) every single night, I had to come up with a backup plan. Apparently a standing George Foreman electric grill is okay, but I haven't gotten quite that desperate yet.

So, friends, I give you this gift: BBQ Apartment Chicken. For those other poor souls who must make do with stovetops in lieu of a grill of their own. And if you're still in college and happen to have a forgiving fire alarm, perhaps you could even get away with making this in the common room of your dorm (be sure to thank me when the single males come to investigate the tantalizing smell though, okay?).


Feel free to sub store-bought BBQ for this homemade version, and I encourage you to experiment with other flavors you may just have hanging out in your pantry to really jazz this up.

For me, the key was extra dark vanilla brown sugar and a bit of a heavy-handed pour of homemade hot sauce. I also put just a few extra splashes of cider vinegar and orange extract. The result was a tangy, slightly fruity, spicy sauce that was just perfect. Because a BBQ craving does not always hit when one is well stocked with BBQ sauces.

I paired it with some browned butter green beans--I would have added bacon bits if I'd had them--and a quick carrot slaw. All in all, a pretty successful endeavor.


Quells a BBQ craving, if nothing else.

Easy Apartment BBQ Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken tenders or breasts
  • BBQ Sauce:
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 heaping tbs brown sugar
  • 4 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs hot sauce (I used homemade
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
-Mix together all sauce ingredients. Toss chicken with 1/4 of the BBQ mixture, and let sit in fridge for about 10 minutes.

-Heat a skillet or grill pan to high heat. Cook chicken in batches of 4 pieces, and cook until slightly charred on both sides (about 5 minutes per side).

-Serve with more BBQ sauce poured on top.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Mexican Street Corn - An Austin/Tex-Mex Favor

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Street corn is a relatively new thing to me. As a New Englander, I always get my corn fresh off the farm and doused with butter and salt. Anything else is unheard of. However, I've developed quite a taste for this stuff since moving here.

Street corn is sweet, spicy, and a great side dish to any Tex Mex cuisine. Torchy's has been my favorite so far, but I'm sure there are others who make a good street corn too. Probably the food trucks, seeing as how they're actually on the street.

Mexican Street corn
  • 4 cobs worth of corn or 1 bag of frozen
  • 1 tbs chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbs or more cojita cheese
  • 3 tbs mayonaise
  • squeeze of lime
-In a dry skillet, cook corn over high heat until blackened on both sides. Transfer to a large bowl.

-Mix together corn and the rest of the ingredients. Serve hot.