Monday, April 30, 2018

Welcome to Brunchweek! - Mini Breakfast Pot Pies #sponsored

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #BrunchWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the #Brunchweek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

Welcome to #BrunchWeek 2018 hosted by Love and Confections and A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures! This year is even bigger and better than ever! Thirty eight bloggers from around the country are showcasing their best brunch dishes. We have so many delicious recipes for you to enjoy throughout the week (over 150!!) including cocktails, appetizers, pastries, tarts, main courses, and plenty of desserts! Our BrunchWeek Sponsors are helping us give away some great prizes. Thank you so much, Sponsors, for your generosity. We have an incredible giveaway below and we’d love if you would take a moment to read about it and what you can win!

I am so excited to be a part of Brunchweek yet again! This little pies are a great way to kick it off. There's a lot to read through here, so I'll let the recipe speak for itself. I'm sure YOU wanna learn about the PRIZES!

Prize #1 Dixie Crystals is giving one winner a 6-Quart Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer and a case of Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar

Since 1917, Dixie Crystals® has been the South's choice for high-quality sugar and sweeteners. For generations, Dixie Crystals has been at the heart of family traditions and celebrations. Our pure cane, non-GMO sugar products guarantee that treasured family recipes will turn out right every time. Bake with love and Dixie Crystals.

Prize #2 Cabot Creamery Co-operative is giving one winner a Cheese Board Set, including a slate cheese board, Boska cheese knife, Legacy Collection Cabot Cheddars, Founders 1919 Collection Cheddars, Waxed Private Stock, Waxed Vintage Choice, and 3 Year Artisan cheeses.

Cabot Creamery Co-operative, makers of naturally aged, award-winning cheeses and dairy products is owned by 1,000 dairy farm families in New England and New York.

Prize #3 LorAnn Oils and Flavors is giving one winner A Baking and Candy Making Prize package. The package includes: ceramic serving platter, a collection of 5 LorAnn Bakery Emulsions, one each of LorAnn Madagascar vanilla extract and Madagascar vanilla bean paste, Lollipop cookbook along with re-usable candy mold, candy packaging accessories, candy thermometer, and a pack of 3 LorAnn super-strength candy oils.

Our flavors. Your creations. For over 50 years, LorAnn Oils has been supplying professionals and home chefs with the finest quality candy and baking flavors, essential oils, and specialty ingredients. Visit us at to shop, learn, and discover new recipe ideas.

Prize #4 Cal-Organic Farms is giving one winner a Cal-Organic prize package complete with kitchen supplies, a portable cooler bag and branded apparel—everything you need to take your delicious #BrunchWeek recipes on-the-go! The package includes a custom-made Tilit apron, cooler bag, kitchen knife, vegetable peeler, t-shirt, hat, notepad and pen.

Cal-Organic Farms is the largest organic vegetable producer in the United States. Supplying more than 65 year-round and seasonal varieties, we are proud to grow 100% of our produce on family-owned acreage in California.

Prize #5 Michigan Asparagus is giving one winner $100 cash gift card.

Michigan Asparagus is known for its hand snapped fresh asparagus. It is available May – June and grown mostly in Oceana County along the shores of Lake Michigan. Remember to buy U.S. for the freshest of the fresh.

Prize #6 Eggland's Best is giving one winner an Eggland's Best Kitchen Essential Prize Package that included 1 month of free Eggland's Best Eggs along with Hard-Cooked Peeled Egg coupons, a freezer bag to carry your groceries, kitchen essentials, (whisk, spatula, pot holders, cutting board, frying pan), Eggland’s Best brand new cookbook, and a plush Eggland's Best egg.

Eggland’s Best eggs have more of the delicious, farm fresh taste you and your family love – anyway you cook them. Plus, Eggland’s Best provides superior nutrition such as 6x more vitamin D, 10x more vitamin E, and double the omega 3s compared to ordinary eggs so why settle for less?

Prize #7 Cento Fine Foods is giving one winner a Cento Classico gift basket, which contains imported products from Cento and their family of brands.

Cento Fine Foods, the premier Italian food distributor, importer and producer in the United States, presents a distinctive line of more than 1,000 authentic Italian style products produced from only the finest ingredients. A family owned and operated company spanning three generations, Cento continues to provide premium quality, exceptional products at the best consumer value. Taste the difference quality makes and see why you can “Trust Your Family With Our Family Ò”.

Take a look at what the #BrunchWeek Bloggers are creating today!

BrunchWeek Beverages:
Cà Phê Trứng (Vietnamese Egg Coffee) from Tara's Multicultural Table
Cold Brew with Hazelnut Simple Syrup from The Barbee Housewife
Hazelnut Milk Punch from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Irish Coffee from My Catholic Kitchen
Strawberry Frosé from Love and Confections

BrunchWeek Appetizers:
Everything Bagel Dip from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen

BrunchWeek Egg Dishes:
Asparagus and Spinach Frittata from Eat Move Make
Cauliflower Waffles from Caroline's Cooking
Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole from Karen's Kitchen Stories
Deviled Eggs with Capers, Cucumber and Red Onion from Family Around the Table
Farmers Casserole from A Day in the Life on the Farm
Ham & Artichoke Strata from The Chef Next Door
Ham, Asparagus and Gruyere Quiche from The Redhead Baker
Hash Brown Waffles with Bacon & Eggs from Amy's Cooking Adventures
Mom's Egg Salad Sandwich from Girl Abroad
Spicy Pimento Cheese Omelet from For the Love of Food

BrunchWeek Breads, Grains, and Pastries:
Bacon and Cheese Twists from Big Bear's Wife
Caramel Apple Dutch Baby from The Bitter Side of Sweet
Carrot Cake Muffins from A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Coconut Cream Pie Donuts from 4 Sons 'R' Us
Coconut Raspberry Skillet Pancake from Books n' Cooks
Danish Twists with Cream Cheese Filling from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
French Toast Muffin Bites from Daily Dish Recipes
Make Ahead Mocha Granola from Wholistic Woman
Nutella Cinnamon Rolls from Pass the Sushi
Snickerdoodle Pancakes from Mildly Meandering
Toasted Coconut Granola from Cooking With Carlee

BrunchWeek Main Dishes:
Antipasto Pizza from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen
Asparagus & Crab Cake Benedict from The Crumby Kitchen
Breakfast Pizza from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
Corned Beef Hash Benedict from Sweet Beginnings
Mini Breakfast Pot Pies from Forking Up

BrunchWeek Fruits, Vegetables and Sides:
I Dream of Hawaii Smoothie Bowl from Brunch-n-Bites
Pickled Asparagus from Shockingly Delicious
Prosciutto Wrapped Pineapple Spears from Kudos Kitchen by Renee

BrunchWeek Desserts:
Breakfast Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies from The Spiffy Cookie
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Coffeecake from It Bakes Me Happy
Chocolate Coffee Maple Cupcakes from The PinterTest Kitchen

And now, onto MY recipe! These make a great bake-ahead breakfast on the go. And they didn't last long at my house with my husband working from home now... so you know they're good if my picky man took a liking to them :) Check it out!

Mini Breakfast Pot Pies
  • 1 package pre-made refrigerated pie dough
  • 1/2 lb breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped Cal-Organic carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced peppers
  • 3 Eggland's Best eggs + 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Cabot's Sharp Cheddar
For the gravy
  • reserved sausage drippings OR 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

-Generously grease 12 muffin tins and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

-Roll out the pie dough so it's slightly thinner and about 25% larger in diameter. Use the rim of a drinking glass that is slightly larger than your muffin wells to cut out the dough into 12 pieces. Press into greased muffin tins. Cut out 12 more pieces and set aside for the top of the pies.

-In a skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage. Reserve the drippings for the gravy. Add the vegetables and cook until tender. Let cool to room temp and spoon into the prepared muffin tins.

-In a small bowl, beat 3 of the eggs with the cream cheese and shredded cheddar. Pour over the sausage mixture in the muffin tins. 

-Carefully press the remaining dough circles onto the top of the muffin tins and roll in edges. Prick all over with a fork.

-In a separate bowl, beat the remaining egg. Use a brush to brush over the finished pies. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops of the pies are golden brown.

-While the pies are cooking, prepare the gravy: sprinkle flour over sausage drippings OR butter until a thick paste forms. Slowly add the broth and the cream, adding more flour if needed to desired thickness. Add salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you'd like. Serve pies with a generous spoonful of the gravy on top.

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, LorAnn Oils and Flavors, Cento Fine Foods, Michigan Asparagus, Cal-Organic and Eggland’s Best for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The #BrunchWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #BrunchWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #Brunchweek posts or entry.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - Spring 2018


Disclaimer: Items marked with a "*" are those that I received promotional product for. Reviews/mentions are never required in these complimentary samples/tastings, but I want to make sure it's clear I did receive product. 

There was a time when I thought I was going to do these weekly. I even wrote it into my weekly calendar! Hah. That's so funny. I'm surprised I have time to write this right now!

Anyways, here's my roundup of spring favorites in Austin and beyond. Let me know what you think!

Yellowbird MINIS!* - Follow my YouTube channel for my first impressions (and the other half of my duo struggling through the tasting) but I ADORE Yellowbird to begin with, and this new mini version is TOO convenient! Not only are they the best way to get a solid sample of each flavor, but they also are perfect for taking on your carryon if you enjoy a midflight bloody but need a little more oomph! My personal favorite is habanero, but the Ghost Pepper is surprisingly complex and even a little dab would add a ton of flavor to any dish. Buy them here!

Uncle Billy's Brewstillery* - Heads up. Uncle Billy's, a Barton Springs favorite, is not only brewing delicious beer--they're now distilling their own whiskey and vodka! They'll be unveiling these to the public soon, but I got a sneak peek tasting last week and was incredibly impressed. The vodka is totally drinkable on its own, but even better in their new kegged cocktails. And y'all know I'm a whiskey girl, so trust me when I say their whiskey is legit. I suggest grabbing an old fashioned and sitting on their patio to listen to some local tunes at your earliest convenience. Be on the lookout for their spirits on shelves in Austin and beyond soon!

Cannon & Belle* - Have you ever written off a place because it was in a hotel? Hotel restaurants tend to thrive on convenience and nothing more. Well, I'm never judging a book by its location ever again. This place is hands. down. incredible. We started with cornbread and bacon butter (!!) and braised short rib (zomg) followed by the pork chop for myself and the ribeye for my plus one. I was recently invited to sample their spring menu and I am not hyperbole-ing when I say every single forkful was better than the next. And no, it being on the house (how can I thank y'all enough??) didn't sway my opinion--I'm of the "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all" camp with my various blogger comps. And I have only nice things to say. It was truly incredible and the icing on the cake was the service. Our server was attentive and made excellent suggestions, even pulling over the bartender to show us how their Fall Old Fashioned was made (here's a hint: REAL FIRE (do I have enough parenthetical statements? Yikes))With the closing of my beloved Vox Table, I needed a new date night restaurant. And I've found one. Definitely give Cannon and Belle a try if you're in the Austin area!
500 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78701

Depressed Cake Shop - A lesser-discussed subject on this blog: I struggle with anxiety and depression. So, major shout out to Depressed Cake Shop, a project by NAMI Austin (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and local bakeries.

From the website:
Participating Depressed Cake Shop pop-up bakeries will promote Mental Health Month throughout the month of May featuring items decorated with an element of gray to signify the gray cloud that can descend over a beautiful world when someone is struggling with mental health issues. Bright colors inside the dessert represent the hope that always continues. When customers purchase a "depressed" item, they will receive a free "conversation starter" card designed to offer specific information about how to talk about mental health with loved ones.
For more info, visit their website!

T22 - The new brick and mortar is so close to me, I could eat their delicious Nashville Hot Chicken every day if I wanted to! It's just perfect. Juicy on the inside, perfectly crisp on the outside, so so flavorful (even the mild is delishhh) and AS BIG AS YOUR FACE. I'm not even kidding. The amazing cocktails and happy hour are just the icing on the cake. The skin on the chicken? The best.
7211 Burnet Rd, Austin TX

As I've been growing my own channel (please subscribe?) I've been studying popular Youtubers to see how it's done. I haven't had cable in about 4 years, but binge-watching Youtube is pretty much my new channel surfing. Here are the ones I love most lately:

Makeup Junkie G - I stumbled upon the documentary following Georgia, and was touched by her journey. What a surprise that she popped up in my Youtube suggestions once I started following makeup tutorials! Her accent is my favorite and her tutorials are easy to follow, and her vlogs are always a great time! Her bubbly nature and adorable pup make this one to watch.

EmmymadeinJapan - Something about Emmy's soothing voice and quirky sense of humor puts me at ease after a long day. She's even named the food spot that often appears on her lip--Winston. I can't quite put my finger on why her channel is so wonderful, it just is. Her channel was what convinced me to start doing my own tasting/unboxing videos. Thanks, Emmy!

Flat Films - Okay, this is kind of a cheat because I'm a part of this production company. But, if you want to see me and one of my very best friends banter about random things, give it a subscribe!

PS. Subscribe to my channel--my friend and I will be reviewing MD 20/20 as well as all of Yellowbird's sauces!

Upstairs Circus - You know those painting and wine nights? Well, what if you took that painting, and expanded it into awesome AND functional crafts, plus added a whole BAR? That's Upstairs Circus. I snagged a ticket to the soft opening and was able to sample two (strong!) drinks as well as a craft. I opted to do a cool painting, but other options included wooden signs, jewelry, stamped leather, and so much more. They're expanding to major cities, so keep an eye on their website!

Oros* - Have you seen my recent posts on Oros? Yes, they hired me for a campaign, but I stand by my statement that it's an awesome app! You can opt into different categories and locations, post a question, comment, or whatever, and get real responses from real people. It's like Yelp and WhasApp had an incredibly convenient lovechild. It's now available nationwide, and can be found in the app store. 

Nextdoor - I don't know why it took me so long to sign up for Nextdoor! It's a super local social media, where you can connect with your actual neighbors. I've been using it to window-shop for cheap furniture, but it's a great way to be in the know on local restaurant and shop openings, as well as events! There's the occasional neighborhood drama, too. But only enough to be interesting ;)

I need to check out these local spots!

  • HEO Eatery
  • Hank's
  • Arpeggio's
  • Be on the lookout for a local roundup of my favorite neighborhood spots!

Brunchweek 2018 is coming up soon! In the meantime, check out my past Brunchweek recipes.

Monday, April 23, 2018

White Wine Spring Mussels


Pssst! This is a re-post of an old blog post from my old blog. I'm posting it moreso for nostalgia and the recipe itself. It was originally posted in 2011. Keep that in mind, or just skip to the end for the actual recipe. I may or may not update it to be more recent, but it's a Monday and I haven't done a recipe for a while, so here you go.

A conversation I had with a friend:
"I have a great opportunity for you!"
"Really? About what?"
"Your cooking!"
"My... cooking? Or you mean writing? My blog?"
"No, your cooking. [the restaurant across the street from my community theater] is starting a program where they let local chefs into their kitchen for a night for special menus! You could make a menu and open it up to their customers and make it yourself in their kitchen! I gave them your name."
"But... I'm not a chef, I'm a writer. A food writer, but still--"
"But you cook."
"I do but--"
"It'd be a great opportunity to promote your book, you should think about it!"
So, I thought about it.

Not that I ever thought seeing my dishes on someone's paid-for plate would ever be a reality for me, or even something I was remotely interested in. After all, I want to write about food, not make it for other people in the very intimidating restaurant business where as a waitress I was once stiffed a tip for not letting my table purchase alcohol without proper ID. And, remember, just a few years ago I could hardly make toast.

Me, in the kitchen. Running a restaurant kitchen?
Hard to picture...

When I began this blog, I was not one to think up a recipe on my own. If you go back far enough--please, don't, the pictures are abhorrent--you'll mostly see either recipes pulled from cookbooks in my personal collection or Google searches, or simply links to outside recipes since I didn't feel right copy and pasting. I was unsure of my abilities in the kitchen, and refused to stray from what was written lest I create something inedible.

Random Cat Picture to break up text!
My cat, Finn. Duh.

These days, I'm happy to say, I find myself rarely following a recipe word-for-word. I'll glance at it once or twice, then search for similar recipes to compare cooking times and techniques, and when I have the bare bones of the process down I just go wild. More often than not, I end up with something ranging from absolutely delicious to at least mostly enjoyably edible. Recent posts link back to content I've "adapted," often showing little resemblance to the original content.

Random dog picture to break up the text! It's my dog, Lily!

I look back on these two years of food blogging and am so proud of myself for coming this far. Could I compile a menu of recipes for an actual restaurant? Why not? I'm already conceiving 100 recipes for my cookbook (which is being pitched by my agent RIGHT NOW OMG), I already have dinner parties for friends about once a month. Though my timing isn't the best--appetizers and main course should not come out at the same time--timing is something that I can fix.

I think, to be a truly well rounded food writer, one needs to understand all different angles and aspects of careers in food. I'd love to be a food critic for a day, or be on a farm tending to vegetables and livestock, just to know what those sides of the industry are like. Running a restaurant for a night would surely put me out of my comfort zone, but even if I failed miserably I'd be all the better for it and my writing would improve. This goal I have of being a food writer (or publisher!) as a full time career feels so close, but I know I still have so far to go. Chef and writer are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and perhaps to be one or the other you must appreciate both.

So, I'll think about it. I know I COULD do it, I'm always up for the challenge. The idea is apparently still in the planning stages, so I have time. We'll see if they call.*

*2018 update: they never called. But I'm always up for cooking opportunities! Email me!

And now, back to recipe development. These mussels were on sale for just $1.99 per pound, and though I'd never made mussels before, the deal was too good to pass up! I knew that I loved spicy mussels, and I loved mussels in white wine sauce rather than the heavy tomato sauce they sometimes come in at restaurants, but could not find a recipe that combined the two. So, I made my own. The results were pretty fantastic.

Spicy White Wine Mussels
(Used Ina Garten's Recipe for times and liquid amounts for steaming)
  • 1.5 lbs mussels, rinsed and de-bearded
  • 1 tbs butter + 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp hot chili oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, diced
  • 2 tsp capers, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste
-In a dutch oven or large saucepan (make sure you have a lid handy), heat the butter and olive oil until combined. Stir in the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, cayenne, and chili oil and heat until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant.

-Add the wine and broth and stir until combined and just barely simmering. Add the mussels and cover immediately. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until mussels have opened and cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and capers. Let sit for two minutes with the cover on. Remove any mussels that have not opened and serve hot with sauce spooned over the top.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

It's Here! Oros Officially Launches in Austin! #sponsored


Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Appyness and Oros. I received compensation for my review.

Oros has officially launched!

In case you missed my last post, Oros is a new messaging app that instantly connects you to people around the world--allowing you to text anyone, anywhere, about anything! Simply download the app, select your interests, and post your message. Other Oros users will see your message and reply.

For example, y'all know I'm a foodie. I'm also a somewhat broke Millennial. This means that when I'm in a new place, or perhaps searching for a new cuisine, I want to ensure I'm not wasting my funds. But certain review sites' sketchy practices coupled with the fact people don't go out of their way to review unless service was excellent or terrible... there's lots of room for error.

Thats why I love Oros! I can post a question like "where is the best pizza in Los Angeles?" "Is Franklin BBQ worth the line?" "Which airport is going to be the least busy during the holidays?" and get REAL responses from REAL people in REAL time.

And, as a person with a passion for food, I also like to share my educated foodie opinions with anyone who is looking for the best spots in town. It feels good to help someone have a great night out!

Oros is available for both iOS and Android. Take it for a spin, Austin!