Thursday, June 27, 2019

What I've Been Eating - Anchorage, Alaska

Yum








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?

Yum

























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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Apartment BBQ Chicken - Easy Homemade Sauce

Yum

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

Yum


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.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pina Colada Ice Cream - Easy Recipe with Sweet Cream Base

Yum
Austin, Texas has already hit back to the 80s, and it's making me want to pull out my ice cream maker to make this Pina Colada Ice Cream!



Sweet cream based ice cream recipes are SO simple. The ice cream is lighter than a custard base, and comes together quickly with little deep-freezing required.

This Pina Colada Ice Cream is deceptive. It's NAMED after a cocktail, but, unlike most cocktail-inspired desserts I post here, it's not actually alcoholic. AND it's delicious. Score.


Again, sweet cream base, with some awesome flavors, topped with a HOMEMADE candy shell. Sounds complicated, but it totally isn't. Candy shells are super duper easy. As are sweet cream bases. Basically, you're going to use this recipe to impress all your friends and only you and I will know how incredibly simple it is. Ready? Let's go!


Pina Colada Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Magic Shell
For the ice cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 2 slices of pineapple, 1/2" thick, pureed or cut into tiny cubes, any juice from cutting reserved
  • optional: handful of toasted coconut
For the Magic Shell
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
-For the ice cream: stir all ingredients together in a large bowl and chill until cold (2 hours or overnight, depending on the temperature it starts at).

-Process in an ice cream maker until the consistency of a thick milkshake. Pour into freezable container and place in freezer until firm, preferably overnight.

-For the magic shell: in the microwave or double boiler, melt dark chocolate (microwave in 30 second increments and stir well). Add coconut oil, and stir until combined and shiny. Store in airtight jar at room temperature. Drizzle over ice cream when ready to eat.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

RAYS St. Paddy's Day Drinks - Better Green Beer and the Texan Pot O' Gold

Yum

This is a collaboration with RAYS. I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own and I would never promote a product I didn't personally enjoy.

I grew up in Massachusetts and went to school in Boston and let me tell you, we were serious about our St. Patrick's Day. The event would last all weekend, capped off with a wild St. Paddy's Day parade. While the Boston one was pretty great, the one I grew up with was in Holyoke (both very big Irish populations). Upon turning 21, the fun deepened as I was able to enjoy all the fun libation that went along with the holiday--sometimes, admittedly, a bit too much.

Here in Texas, it's a bit different. Not only is St. Paddy's Day not as widely celebrated, but it stays mild all year round. So when St. Paddy's Day hits, we're not looking for something heavy. We like cooler, lighter flavors to compliment the warmer temps.




So when RAYS reached out to come up with some St. Patrick's Day cocktails, I was a bit stumped! Their delicious, all natural spirits are distilled from grapes and use real citrus to give a light, fresh flavor that's a bit tart. And they're native to Texas! Not what I was used to for the season.

Eventually, I decided to both update an old favorite, and make a Texas tribute to my ol' New England holiday. Let me know what you think!

Want to get some RAYS for yourself? You can now find them in HEB and Central Market!



Better Green Beer
Nobody REALLY likes green beer, but we drink it anyway. Kick it up with some RAYS and this is a St. Patrick's day staple you'll actually want to drink.

  • 1 can of your favorite light beer
  • 4 oz RAYS lime
  • 3 drops green food coloring

In a frosty beer mug, carefully add the food coloring and RAYS. Slowly pour in the beer--the motion of the liquid should disperse the color--and serve!
*Add some cayenne salt from the recipe below for an extra kick!


Texan Pot o' Gold
Lure in a Leprechaun with this Texas gold and maybe he'll share a bit of his treasure with you... and if not, you still have a tasty drink!

  • 2.5 oz RAYS lime
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 2 oz gold tequila
  • splash of orange juice
  • Cayenne pepper + salt, for rim

Rim a martini glass with the cayenne salt. In a shaker filled with ice, pour in the rest of the ingredients, shake well, then pour into the glass.
*I added a pinch of tumeric for color and it complimented the flavors nicely!



Sunday, March 3, 2019

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2019 - Mexican Martinis

Yum





Trudy's (multiple locations throughout Austin) When I polled my friends about the best Mexican Martini in town, this was the resounding answer. Not only are they on happy hour special, but it's the classic Mexican Martini with a generous shaker of extra goodness on the side. Limit of two, and don't try the "Trudy's Mexican Martini Crawl" (where ambitious drinkers try to go the limit at each location) because you definitely will die.

Chuy's (multiple locations in Austin and beyond) Chuy's has a special place in my heart because it was my first taste of Tex-Mex in all its glory. Tex-Mex is its own unique, amazing thing and Chuy's is a solid, if not THE most authentic version. Their Mexican Martini is classic and straightforward: heavy on the tequila with a refreshing kick of citrus and a balanced bit of olive.




Polvo's (Two locations: 2004 S 1st St and 360 Nueces, Ste. #10 Austin, TX ) I'm embarrassed it took this long to try out this Austin institution. Authentic Mexican food and a decent Mexican Martini. What else could you need? A salsa bar? You got it. Reasonably priced and perfectly made.



La Condesa (400 W 2nd St A, Austin, TX) Need a solid after work Happy Hour that hits all the bases? Classic Austin restaurant. Mexican food that's deliciously shareable. Great HH deals. And magicians at the bar. Pro-tip: This drink isn't on the menu, but they make a damn good Mexican Martini anyway.



Cedar Door (201 Brazos St, Austin, TX) Cedar Door prides itself in being the location where the Mexican Martini was created. No, it's not from Mexico--it's from a gorgeous little bar on Brazos Street, where a bartender in the 80s was inspired after a recent trip to Mexico. You can choose between three options: classic, spicy, and Austin (made from 100% Austin local liquors). I prefer the classic, and a few shots and selfies outside next to these massive olives.



Casa Chapala (9041 Research Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX) Fun fact: I accidentally spilled my drink all over the bar. D'oh. Apparently, the shakers don't snap shut here, so be CAREFUL! But Chapala's is amazing, and has one of the most extensive Tequila collections in town. Make it your way with top shelf or below and you'll definitely be satisfied.




Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2019!