Thursday, March 31, 2016

Danger Scones - Archer Premiere Virtual Party!


GUESS WHAT COMES BACK TODAY. GUESS. GUESS.

Yep, Archer.



Archer is one of those shows that never fails to make me laugh. I have a secret list of "TV Shows I Wish I Could Write For" and while I know animation is a pain in the ass to work for, Archer probably makes the list on sheer awesomeness alone.

Some bloggers and I decided to make some treats to celebrate! And by some I mean two other bloggers because apparently the rest of the people in our blogger group have no taste (jk I'm sure y'all have taste... if you're reading this...). But we have some kick ass recipes sooo whatevs. Take a Look!



Pimm's Cup in a Pimp Cup by Nomageddon


Spicy Bloody Mary infused Fried Chicken and Waffles from The Flavor Bender

My plan was to make something from the show. I googled my options and, they're all booze. Every one of them. Donuts and Chinese food were mentioned in an episode or two. So I had to be creative.



Enter: Danger Scones. A silly pun. 20 year old pretentious writer Ashley would be pissed at 28 year old blogger Ashley for making a pun. 28 year old Ashley does not have time for that nonsense.

Anyway. Black chocolate scones with a spicy strawberry filling seemed dangerous enough for me. Black cocoa is what Oreos are made of, and can typically be found in specialty cake shops. If you don't have a two year old bag hiding in your pantry from the one time you went to a specialty cake shop, Hershey's Special Dark cocoa will suffice.

LANAAAAAAAA!!!!
WHAT.
...Danger scones.




DANGER SCONES

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup black cocoa (can sub for dark cocoa)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, cut into cubes (cold)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup jalapeno strawberry jam (or strawberry jam with 1 diced jalapeno mixed in)
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips


-Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

-Mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

-In a food processor, pulse together the flour mixture with the butter until it forms coarse crumbs.

-Transfer to a stand mixer and pour in the vanilla and cream until the dough just comes together. It should be soft, but not too sticky.

-Pat into a large disc on the baking sheet and cut into 8 wedges.

-Carefully slice the wedges in half and spoon a bit of the jam into the center. Shape back together into a wedge (it may become kind of... deformed?)

-Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool, then drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Killer Cookie Dough Dip


























Last night, my two passions came together in a spectacular melding of improv and cooking. I was asked to be a part of my friend's comedy night at ColdTowne theater, titled "Let's Cook: Improvised Cooking Show, Easter Edition."


That name really does not do it justice.


In the show, Jesus and the Easter Bunny has a smackdown, Dr. Lundqvist did a presentation on wrestling in America, I created a recipe live on stage, multiple people were murdered, Emeril's lesser-known cousin Emerald made an appearance, a 6ft tall child covered in chocolate made jokes, Detective Etouffe from New Orleans investigated the murders, two attorneys who didn't quite know the name of their practice offered legal advice, all while Christian tried to keep the show together.


It was the best kind of insane and actually a pretty solid crowd for a Sunday night. I hope we get to do it again!


The recipe I made live on stage was this one: cookie dough you can eat right out of the bowl without fear of salmonella. And while the cookie dough I made in the show may or may not have been the cause of the murders (I plead the fifth!) this one is all good.

We put the leftovers out in the lobby and they didn't even make it to the next show a half hour later, if that's any indication of how good it was.


It's technically a cookie dough dip--use pretzels or vanilla cookies as dipping aparatuses--but if you just scoop it out with a spoon, nobody will judge you.

Killer Cookie Dough Dip

  • 1 package neufchantel cheese (or cream cheese), softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips


-Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.

-Add in the vanilla and salt, stir well.

-Fold in the chocolate chips.

-Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with pretzels, cookies, or fruit for dipping.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dieter's Dream - Low Carb/Vegan/Natural Sugar/Gluten Free Chocolate Mousse

Once upon a March, Ashley had the brilliant idea to challenge herself to a month of no sugar and no booze.

She lasted two weeks, and then the opportunity to bop around SXSW came up, and with it free booze. So she made a deal with herself--if it's free, it doesn't count.

Then her friend had a birthday in a cabin in the woods and glamping + birthdays = boozing so...


Then I had to get blood drawn and I hate that experience so much I bought myself a cinnamon roll the size of my face. So sue me.

However, it's the 22nd day of March and while this would TYPICALLY be the 22nd day of the month in which Ashley has a dessert and an alcoholic drink per day, in reality more than half of that time frame has been sugar and booze free.


So, it's kind of a win? Note to self: plan spur-of-the-moment diets on more boring months. Also, it made my failed New Years Resolution of "no weeknight boozing" feel way more achievable. I think that one may stick now if I give it a reboot.

Also, I discovered that I can make a pretty killer dessert substitute for when the going gets tough. I planned on making a basic chia seed pudding, but ended up with a velvety vegan mousse that tastes even better than I could possibly have dreamed. Now when I have a chocolate craving, I can make these nearly-guilt-free little beauties and even the health-food-hating fiance will steal a bowl.


Dieter's Dream Chocolate Mousse
  • 1 can coconut cream* plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 cup cashew butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1+ tbsp maple syrup, or natural sugar of choice
  • Optional: 1/4 cup chia seeds

In a stand mixer, whip the coconut cream and cashew butter together until fluffy.

Fold in the rest of the ingredients, and chill until ready to serve.

If using chia seeds, let the pudding chill overnight. This will give the pudding a more tapioca-like consistency.

*Or, two cans turned upside down in the fridge over night, and separated from the liquid in the morning

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Make Room For Bacon at Central Market! - Bacon and Beer Pairing Class


Full Disclosure: I received free entry to the Bacon and Beer Tasting Class in exchange for letting my readers know about Central Market's Baconfest. Opinions are my own.

Bacon.

I don't know if I need to say more than that, but I will.


Central Market, the organic/health food sister to my beloved HEB, is having the most wonderful of events: Make Room for Bacon Fest. From now until March 15th, Central Market is offering classes--like this Bacon and Beer pairing class I attended--special products, demonstrations, samples, and more!

I was invited to check out the Bacon and Beer Pairing class. Right at the beginning of me swearing off alcohol for the month--oops! So I'm adding an extra day to my challenge, and I took only the tiniest of sips to get the flavor of the beer paired with the recipe.


This was actually my first cooking class ever! And I was seriously impressed with the class. We got full plates of everything, and while we chowed down we were shown how to make the meal ourselves. I would have liked to actually attempt cooking along rather than just watching, but the space wasn't really set up for that. But with the mirror over the stove, and the tv screen, it was easy to see the step by step methods used.


We began with an overview of the beers with Central Market's resident beer expert. I would have preferred he explained the beers as we got them, so we could taste as we learned and really explore the flavors, since by the time we got the beer I'd forgotten what we were supposed to be noticing. But, dude had to go run his department, so I understand!


Cindy was an amazing instructor. She has over 20 years of experience in the kitchen and was extremely knowledgeable about bacon, and pretty much everything having to do with cooking. I'll definitely be looking for her in future classes! She was charismatic and funny, and was easy to listen to.

Each course came paired with a glass of beer. Here's what we ate...


Charcuterie plate of bacon, including a habanero bacon I absolutely LOVED.


Bacon chicken quesadillas, using tortillas with bacon bits baked in.


Bacon chowder with cajun spice. This was my FAVORITE course. It was perfectly spicy, not too creamy, full of great bits of bacon and potato. I am going to be recreating this tonight.


Beer-braised pork belly. There was some confusion as to whether or not to eat the fat--I definitely ate the fat. The beer worked perfectly with the pork belly, and I loved the accompanying root veggies.


Avocado bacon ice cream. This was interesting. Not something I'd personally order again, but a refreshing end to the meal!

I'd highly suggest one of these dine-and-learn type classes. I actually texted Cory halfway through saying "next date night, we're doing this."


Overall, if you have a Central Market in your area, definitely take a class! And until March 15th, take advantage of all the bacony goodness you'll find throughout the store.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2016 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide - Austin's Best New Restaurants







I called upon the help of my foodie friends and fellow food bloggers for this one, and they did not disappoint! Consider this my own list of favorites as well as places I will be trying ASAP.


Bullfight - A new tapas restaurant on Airport Blvd, right next to the theater I perform at regularly. I recently visited Bullfight during Happy Hour and was impressed with the offerings: half off liquor and snacks! I ordered an El Torero (Bulleit rye, apple liqueur, lemon, vino tinto) and had to stop myself from ordering three more. The cocktail was balanced and expertly prepared. The calamari was fresh and perfectly crisp. The bacon wrapped stuffed dates were also incredible, as was everything we sampled (definitely try the duck meatballs--not on the HH menu). Plus at Happy Hour they come in adorable little cones!
Bullfight
4807 Airport Boulevard
Austin, TX 78751




Jenna's Asian Kitchen - Jenna's touts "Modern Asian Comfort Food" which is described as "Korean/Chinese Infusion" and definitely delivers with a reasonably priced menu, solid wine and sake offerings, and even a handful of kid-friendly portions (as well as vegan and gluten free!). Not to mention a solid happy hour menu Monday through Friday from 3pm-6pm. It's hard to find a disappointing review of this place, which means even the most ornery Yelpers find something to love here.
Jenna's Asian Kitchen
12300 Ranch Rd 620 N
Austin, TX 78750


Photo courtesy of The Dishtance 

Wu Chow - One of 2015's most anticipated openings, Wu Chow burst onto the scene and did not disappoint. Coming from the team that brought you Swift's Attic, was there really any doubt? According to the website, Wu Chow "Wu Chow offers dishes representative of all eight styles of Chinese cuisine as well as dim sum service on Saturdays and Sundays"--I've heard rave reviews on the dim sum, it's all my foodie friends will talk about. I hear the soup dumplings are not to be missed.
Wu Chow
 IBC Bank Plaza
500 W 5th St #168
Austin, TX 78701




Pacific Rim Sushi & Yakitori Lounge - I'm always on a search for delicious sushi in Texas and Pacific Rim definitely fits the bill. The sushi is fresh, and the variety of other offerings is unique and flavorful. We recently had an Austin Food Blogger Alliance Happy Hour here, and I was blown away by every item we sampled. Don't miss the Sake Mac and Cheese, whatever you do! They just unveiled a new menu concept, hot rock, where you can cook your own items on a mini grill made from a hot stone. It's more than worth the trek to North Austin, and a great treat for everyone who makes their home up here (like me!) too.
Pacific Rim Sushi & Yakitori Lounge
9070 Research Blvd #305
Austin, TX 78758


Photo courtesy of The Dishtance

Laundrette - This place has everything an Austin foodie could wish for: trendy location (it's housed in a former East Austin laundromat), multiple cuisine inspirations (duck confit, charred octopus, and beef carpaccio are a few of the menu items), brunch (weekends, 11:00-2:30) local beer (as well as unique cocktails and a decent wine list), and locally-famous chefs (Sway and La Condesa are on their resume). They don't take reservations for small parties, and the small space fills up quickly, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Laundrette
2115 Holly St
Austin, TX 78702


Image courtesy of The Dishtance

Emmer + Rye - Rainey's food scene seems to be getting better with every new opening. Emmer + Rye boasts a "farmer's haul" menu that changes daily. Using local ingredients, they pickle and preserve produce when it's at its peak--so anything pickled is a do-not-miss here. But what's really unique is the dim-sum style service. Guests can browse rotating carts for a variety of small plates, taking about an hour for the full menu to make its way through.
Emmer + Rye
51 Rainey St, Suite 110

Austin, TX 78701




Vox Table - This is, without question, my new favorite restaurant in Austin. The cocktails are perfection (there's an Old Fashioned menu! be still my heart!), and each and every menu item is thoughtfully put together and absolutely delicious. I adored the calamari noodles and the tongue and cheek bun, and the potato churros were HEAVENLY. Next time you want to catch a flick at Alamo, come early and get your grub on at Vox beforehand.
Vox Table
1100 S. Lamar Blvd
Suite 2140
Austin TX 78704

Juliet - A foodie friend once lamented that there wasn't much for good Italian in Austin. Thankfully, Juliet has stepped up to the plate for innovative Italian. Dine out on the gorgeous patio if the night is clear, or enjoy a cozy evening inside near the marble-topped bar while the smokey woodfire smell fills the air. Enjoy pastas, pizzas, or their happy hour specials at this Barton Spring's Italian hotspot.
Juliet
1500 Barton Springs
Austin, TX

Bonus! Brick and Mortars: Via 313/Chi'lantro/Peached Tortilla. All three of these awesome food trucks got brick and mortar restaurants this year. Now instead of chasing your favorite truck, you can stop by for happy hour!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2016 Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide - Dive Bars



I love my drinks, but I also love having a bank account not in the negatives. Thankfully, these dive bars are all authentically Austin and reasonably priced.


G&S Lounge - I may be biased, because this is my Kickball Team's post-game hangout. No frills, but tons of old arcade games and a ton of taps and bottles to choose from. Inside are a bunch of vintage video games (even a Zoltar booth!) and outside is a small patio. The owner is a touch ornery, but warms up after a while and has even been known to pull out the grill and feed patrons from time to time. His two ancient dogs roam the bar and are adorable and friendly.
G&S Lounge
2420 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704


Lala's - It's a Christmas-themed bar. It has cheap drinks. Do you really need any other reason to check it out? With temps in Austin often reaching 100+, it's great to sneak in and have some sips at a place that reminds you of Christmas all year round.
Lala's
2207 Justin Ln
Austin, TX 78757



Deep Eddy Cabaret - Close to, but far enough away from 6th street is this family-owned bar that's been around since 1951. Simple, cash-only, a pool table, and full of regulars. This is the place to sit and chat with friends when you don't feel like dealing with the crush of downtown.
Deep Eddy Cabaret
2315 Lake Austin Blvd
Austin, TX 78703


Barfly's - "Our drinks are cheap, so you don't have to be" is their slogan, which means this is definitely my kind of place. Laid back, cheap drinks, heavy pours, and what is supposedly the best jukebox in town. Pool, a patio, you really couldn't ask for much more.
Barfly's
5420 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751


MugShots - As more and more people realize how amazing our city is, the prices of drinks downtowns inches ever higher. That's why it's so great to have a dive bar right on 7th Street that won't break the bank! 50 beers to choose from, as well as heavily poured wells make this a great spot to get the ambiance of downtown without the cost of a night on Dirty 6. Plus, it's housed in one of Austin's oldest buildings, so you know it's got class.
Mugshots
407 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78701




The Grand - Come here on any night of the week and you're likely to find a handful of ColdTowne Theater performers unwinding after a show (myself included!). The neon sign perpetually has at least one letter burnt out, and the pool tables that take up 75% of the large, open space are well-worn. Specials range from the happy-hour pricing of $2 for cocktails, and the post-happy-hour pricing of $4 for mini pitchers. Various music acts play here as well, and you can order a pizza that really only tastes delicious after a few of those $4 pitchers.
The Grand-Social Club and Billiards Room  
4631 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751




Ego's - The karaoke stage alone is enough for me to keep coming back to this little corner of South Congress. Sign up early though, as the lineup gets packed rather quickly. Drinks are reasonable and there's a big enough selection for anyone to enjoy--from dirt-cheap well drinks and beers to the fancier top shelf option or two. And it even has its own parking!
Ego's
510 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704


Nasty's - It's close enough to the UT campus that you'll have to shoulder through students but hey, students need cheap beer more than anyone, right? Tons of craft beers on tap, pool tables, darts, a patio--everything you need to watch the game and hang out with your frat bros.
Nasty's Bar
606 Maiden Lane
Austin, TX 78705



Carousel Lounge - When you were little, you dragged your parents to Chuck E Cheese's for the fun atmosphere and overpriced pizza. As an adult, you have it even better--because going to this circus-themed bar is like reliving your childhood but WITHOUT the over-priced libations. And the music is worlds better than an animatronic rat, but a large pink elephant does loom over the performers. Like a true dive bar, it's cash-only, so come prepared.
Carousel Lounge
1110 E 52nd St
Austin, TX 78723


Where is your favorite dive bar in town? Did I miss a good one? Let me know in the comments!