Thursday, July 21, 2016

What I've Been Eating - Fast Casual


Disclaimer: I was offered a free meal at each of these places in exchange for social media coverage. However, I am highlighting the following places in a blog post because I truly enjoyed them and would recommend them for anyone interested in fast casual fare in the Austin area.

1000 Degrees Pizza
So, to be honest, this is the third build-your-own pizza place I've been invited to. And while I've politely Instagram-ed my experience at each, I'm honestly not a huge pizza person, so I wasn't super jazzed about those experiences. However, 1000 Degrees Pizza is no ordinary pizza joint. Yes, it's build-your-own (are those trendy right now? There's SO MANY!) but something about this one is just worlds better than the rest. For one, the crust is perfect. Many quick pizza joints fall victim to a soggy or under-cooked crust. Or they use that whole "flatbread" situation which is cheating. 1000 Degrees uses hand-stretched dough that is baked in a wood-fired oven and it is crisp and chewy at the same time. The sauces are fresh and flavorful, as are the toppings. I got a BBQ chicken pizza and it was one of the best I've ever had.

I've been so side-tracked by ramen lately that I totally forgot my first love bowl: Pho. However, maybe it was the 100 degree Austin weather or just my own need for spice, but what truly stood out here for me were the noodle and rice bowls--don't get me wrong, the Pho is perfectly satisfying, but what really stood out to me were those bowls! We tried the Pat's Plate (marinated pork shoulder, jasmine rice, fried egg, be still my heart) and the Lemongrass Beef bowl and both were amazing. So much flavor! We also very much enjoyed the "Banh Mi Sliders" which actually were bao with banh mi fillings. We will definitely be back for all of these items soon, and once the cold weather hits we'll be back at those Pho bowls.

Modern Market
I mean, they say it best on their own website: "great tasting, healthy food made from ingredients you can trust for a reasonable price"--and it's exactly that! Plus their motto, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They also serve pizzas (the Bacon Corn, omggg) but my favorite thing was actually the salads. They're just so fresh and unique. I was a huge fan of the Farmer salad, which has mixed greens, roasted Red Bird chicken, grapes, feta, roasted corn, almond, champagne vinaigrette. Their sandwiches were also incredible--I wish I had a location closer to my office, I'd lunch there all the time! Basically, everything on their menu is great. And their dedication to sustainable produce is awesome. The owner was telling me that their goat cheese is produced by a single farm, and Modern Market provides over 50% of the farm's revenue for the year. Plus their menu has options for every diet.

Be sure to check their websites to see if there are any locations near you!

Monday, July 18, 2016

FFFB Mystery Box Challenge - Chipotle Pecan Chicken with Cold Couscous Salad


The Fuckin Fab Food Bloggers are at it again! We sent each other Mystery Boxes for our #WhatsIntheBox Chopped-esque challenge. I sent a box to Matt of Nomigeddon and I received a box from Julie of Bread, Booze, Bacon.

Here's my video of my unboxing, which I originally posted to our #FFFB Facebook group:

So my items were... Israeli couscous, bacon jam, and pecans. All from one of my favorite stores: Trader Joe's. Delicious! But how to combine them? What to do, what to do... First I wondered if I could somehow make a dessert. Perhaps use the couscous as tapioca? But the couscous was a little too savory for that.

Then the idea came to me to make a cold couscous salad. Light, refreshing, and summery! But I wanted a more substantial meal last night, so I decided to kind-of cheat and make two separate components to the same overall meal.

I made pecan crusted chicken drumsticks (with chipotle mayo as the binder) with the couscous salad and made the bacon jam into a vinaigrette for the salad. The result was extremely tasty! I never would have put these things together, but they paired beautifully and I made a delicious salad with chicken.

Check out the rest of the FFFB crew's recipes, too!

Chipotle Pecan Chicken with Cold Couscous Salad
  • 5 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup mayonaise
  • 1 cup honey roasted pecans (I used about 1/4 cup of almond meal as well)
  • 1 tbsp chipotle sauce (the liquid from a can of chipotle peppers)
  • 1 1/3 cups Isralei cous cous
  • 1 vegetable boullion cube
  • ~1 cup chopped veggies (I used cucumber, shallot, carrot, tomato)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp bacon jam
  • 1 tsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the chicken drumsticks with the mayo and the chipotle sauce in a zip bag. Set aside for 10 minutes.

-Pulse the pecans and almond meal in a food processor until fine. Roll the mayo-coated chicken in the mixture and place onto a well-oiled wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Spray liberally with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees F and the juices run clear.

-Prepare the cous cous according to the package (equal parts water plus the boullion cube) and let cool completely. Stir in the feta and the chopped veggies and refrigerate until cold.

-Prepare the vinaigrette: mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, bacon jam, chopped shallot, and garlic. Shake vigerously. Pour about 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette into the couscous.

-Serve hot chicken and cold salad together.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Makin Bacon Pancakes - Adventure Time Themed Dish for #ToonFood


Can you guess what my favorite cartoon is?

I'll give you a hint. I named my cats Finn and Marceline.

Adventure Time! I think it's one of the few shows that both adults AND kids can enjoy on the same level. It's smart and sweet while also being a whole lot of fun. So when the Nomicon blogger group decided to do a day of Toon Food, I knew what show I'd be representing!

But what to make? Jake's Perfect Sandwich (oh man I wanted to, but lobster soul is hard to come by!)? Princess Bubblegum Cupcakes? Treetrunk's Apple Pie?

Oh guys. Isn't it obvious?

Bacon Pancakes! And yes, I did sing this song the entire time. I amped it up with a splash of bourbon and some dark chocolate chips. And yeah, it's pretty bad ass. You could even say... it's Mathmatical!

Jake's Bacon Pancakes (Adventure Time)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled*
  • 1 tbsp apple pie spice
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

-In a small saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter--let it froth and boil until it turns a caramel color and smells nutty--then take off the heat and let it cool until lukewarm.

-Sift together the flour, apple pie spice, and baking powder.

-In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, bourbon, and browned butter. Slowly add the dry ingredients, stirring constantly. Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

-Pour batter by the 1/3rd cupful onto a hot skillet. Cook each side for about three minutes, until golden brown. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

*for extra bacon flavor, leave the grease in the pan and cook your pancakes in it! I even subbed in a tablespoon of butter for a tablespoon of bacon grease.

And don't forget to check out the other awesome blogger dishes!