Monday, February 27, 2017

Fitness and a Healthy Benny - Paleo, gluten free, vegetarian eggs benedict


Wedding countdown: less than 6 months. 124 days, to be exact. (Potential TW: weight talk to come. scroll down to the recipe if you need to)

And I know, I KNOW it's silly of me to be concerned about how I look in a wedding dress--and YES, I did pick one that is flattering at my current size--but about 4 years ago I went from a size 6 to a size 10 seemingly overnight (and am currently inching towards a 12) and I haven't been satisfied with how I look since.

I love this man so much I am only partially aware of the fact that my butt is the third person in this picture.

And, if I'm paying top dollar for pictures I'm going to cherish for years and years... I don't want to forever look at myself and feel the way I do now about how I look.

Again, I know it's silly and stupid and superficial. And I have dear friends who are my size and beyond who totally rock it. Just, for me, it's been a struggle. My dad died from complications from obesity ten years ago so... that's also usually on my mind. I love my fiance, and I know the day isn't about how I look. But I can't help being fixated on it, either...

Anyway, last week I made a dedicated attempt to get back on the wagon and do something about it, and so far, so good! 

And by good, I mean delicious.

One thing I absolutely believe about this process--starving myself isn't going to work. For one, I am a food blogger. For another, 1200 calorie limits are not cure-alls. Especially if you're also working out, which I am: three classes/week using Class Pass--which you should TOTALLY try if you are in one of their cities! So I'm doing a combo of things. Class Pass for three classes a week, and hopefully supplementing with a once a week personal trainer. Using MyFitnessPal for food logging, but using my FitBit for actual daily caloric needs. I have the Fitbit HR, which tracks effectiveness of my exercise based on my heart rate, then adds the number of calories I've burned to my daily limit, and then adds a reasonable amount of calories to my daily intake. So, if it's a day that I'm completely sedetary, yeah, I have to stick to 1200. But if, like yesterday, I'm extremely active, it can be as high as 2000.

Plus, I've decided no drinking during the week, and to limit myself to weekends. That's been the toughest so far...

ANYWAY. You're here for the food, right? Right. I love a good eggs benedict. But sometimes I don't want to blow my entire carb and calorie allotment in one meal. So, I created a veggie-heavy, delicious Paleo version.

These flavors together are incredible--and you don't even miss the meat or biscuit (okay, you might miss them a little...). Check it out and let me know what you think!

Healthy Benny
Makes 1-2 servings

For the Sweet Potato Hashbrown
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tbsp almond meal

For the simple salsa
  • 4 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tsp onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp scallions
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Additional Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

-Prepare the hashbrowns: heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. While the skillet heats, squeeze any excess moisture out of the shredded sweet potatoes with a paper towel and place in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and form into palm-sized patties.

-Fry the patties in the oil until crispy--about 3 minutes per side. Set aside.

-Prepare the salsa: mix together all salsa ingredients. Spoon the mixture onto each patty, and top with two slices of avocado.

-Prepare the poached eggs: Use whatever method works best for you, but this is what I do. Fill a small saucepan with about 3 inches of water. Add the vinegar, and heat over medium until it is barely beginning to bubble. Use a spoon to swirl the water, creating a little whirlpool. Add one egg at a time, gently, as the water is swirling. Let cook until the whites of the egg are no longer translucent, and remove with a slotted spoon.

-Spoon onto the dressed hashbrown and serve immediately.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Things 3

Here's another Favorite Things! I'll go in and add more pics later... Just wanted to get this up!

Here's where I share things related to food/blogging/cooking/restaurants/everything else that I have discovered and/or received for review. If there's a *, I've received a product gratis from the company for purpose of reviewing.

T-fal All in One Cooker* (Excited to try) - Instant/All in one cookers are all the rage. And T-fal was kind enough to send me their Electric Pressure cooker to try out! I'm still figuring out how it works, but so far it's a great way to make a quick meal! Expect a how-to video, coming shortly.

Charcoal Toothpaste - (not food) I was not paid to write this. I am not one of those viral videos you're seeing in your feeds. This is just a true, honest-to-goodness personal review: this stuff is MAGICAL. I can't speak to any other brand, as this is the one I bought, but in ONE DAY my teeth were three shades whiter AT LEAST. My toothbrush's blue bristles are even turning white, so you KNOW it's effective. It's a gray powder, with a light spearmint flavor, that you sprinkle on your toothbrush. Brush your teeth normally, and rinse. It looks a little strange (the powder is BLACK and it looks like you're brushing with mud) but TRUST ME. The first week I used it every day, but I have sensitive teeth and I started to feel a bit more sensitive. This week I've been using it every couple of days, while using my old toothpaste in between, and my teeth are still sparkly white. Try it, it's amazing.

Better than Sex Mascara/Ipsy - (not food, but still a rec) I've been getting Ipsy for about four years now, and I absolutely love it. For $10 a month, I get a curated bag of makeup goodies in generous sample to full sizes. I've come across many different brands that I love this way. My current favorite is Better Than Sex Mascara. It's a cult product, but one that has a full size with a price point a bit more than I like to spend... if it weren't for Ipsy, I wouldn't know how worth it that price tag is! I have big, thick lashes to begin with, but the extra oomph from Better Than Sex makes them look legit fake. It's definitely earned its cult status!

Things I find on the internet and stuff.

Pokemon Go's Gen 2 - The original Pokemon was at peak popularity when I was about 12 (that age when you're still a kid but about to dive headfirst into teenagerdom), so Pokemon Go is incredibly nostalgic for me. The game has been out for a year, but they recently released about 80 NEW Pokemon from the second generation. These aren't the Pokemon I grew up with, but the giddy little-kid-feeling of exploring the outdoors and stumbling upon little monsters to catch is so much fun. It's been a happy little light in a world that is confusing and at times dark right now.

The Skimm - My new favorite part of the morning? Reading The Skimm while I drink my coffee. There's so many news outlets out there, it's hard to keep on top of everything. The Skimm is just what it sounds like--a skimmable digest of what's going on in the world.  It's informative, while still being detailed and brief. It's definitely left-leaning (as am I), but facts-forward. Great backup for civil discourse in this harsh political climate.

BoxMac - I've probably mentioned my friends' YouTube show here before (Frankie and Junt are on a mission to find the best boxed mac and cheese!), but this past January I was honored to visit and tape a show with them. My episode is still a month out--Frankie is an expert at content creation and plans MONTHS in advance--but in the meantime you should check out everything Red Cow Entertainment has to offer. Trust me, watching two dudes cook boxed mac and cheese doesn't sound like a ton of fun, but something about their chemistry and silly banter while they taste-test a childhood favorite is extremely addicting.

Spotlight on Other Food Bloggers!
Bourbon soaked cherries tiramisu from Bread Booze Bacon
Banana Split Granola Kabobs from Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen

Each week I’m going to highlight a different thing I love in ATX. Might be a list, might be one highlight, who knows! This week it’s…

Central Market Cooking School *- Guys. It's BACON TIME. I was lucky enough to snag a media spot to their Bacon and Beer menu last year, and I highly recommend any class that Cindy is teaching. The upcoming class list is chock full of awesome Bacon and St. Patrick's Day favorites. If you want to get your hands dirty, take a cooking class. If you want to just watch and eat, sign up for a demonstration. Either way, you get to learn a bit while enjoying some tasty bites. The perfect date night!

Pacific Rim Sushi & Yakitori Lounge - I am OBSESSED with Dollar Tuesdays. $1 per piece of high-quality sushi? Count me the eff IN. Don't let the low cost fool you, this stuff is fresh and delicious. Plus, the drink specials are bomb (the Sake Bloody Mary is SO good), and my sushi-hating fiance can eat his fill of chicken and shrimp skewers when I drag him here to fulfill my sushi craving. This is also one of the few places where happy hour starts at 3 and runs UNTIL CLOSE, and on those days single sushi pieces average just $2. Extra extra points, it's five minutes from my apartment, and there's never a wait for a seat at the bar. I think I've found my new hangout.

Did I mention MY BOOK is available for pre-order? Check it out!

How to Eat a Lobster and Other Culinary Enigmas Explained is now available via pre-order! My lovely publisher, Quirk Books lists all the various places you can place an order for my book, so you can be first in line when it comes out April 4th.

Question of the week: How do you get your news?

Monday, February 13, 2017

What's Ashley Eating? - Old Thousand, Austin TX

I received a complimentary 5 course meal at Old Thousand for their Chinese New Year Dinner for purpose of review. All opinions are my own, and I would never endorse a product/service/restaurant I didn't personally recommend to my readers.

I'm trying a bunch of new things in the blog this year, and restaurant reviews are one of them! As a member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, I often get invites to new restaurant openings, or special happy hours for bloggers in town. To say thank you to the many places that let us sample their menu, as well as places I've stumbled onto on my own, I've decided to create a new series called What's Ashley Eating


Old Thousand's art is adorable.

I have a unique problem in Austin. I cannot find crappy food. And by crappy, I don't mean inedible, I mean that inauthentic, overly sugared, super Americanized versions of things like tacos that I found in my little area of Massachusetts until moving to foodie-paradise Austin, Texas. 

Old Thousand is not the mall Chinese food I grew up with. Not by a long shot. So, it's not going to quell my craving for greasy takeout. But it's definitely where I'm going to go for delicious Chinese food from now on!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of experiencing their Chinese New Year dinner. I brought along my seafood-neutral fiance, who I fully intended on buying a side of chicken something-or-other once we saw the menu was heavy on the seafood, but as it turns out, I didn't need to.

Every course was perfect. The seafood was fresh, devoid of the "fishy" taste and full of flavor. Unfortunately, the low-lighting meant I didn't get the best pictures, but trust me. Everything was amazing.

I'm not sure if this was typical of Saturday nights, or just because it was Chinese New Year, but walk-ups were told there was a 3 hour wait. We had reservations, but ended up being seated at the bar. So, I'd definitely advise you to make reservations, and specify a non-bar seat if you want a table. We enjoyed the close proximity to the kitchen, though, it was cool to see the chefs in action!

Oh and don't ignore their cocktail menu. The bartenders know their stuff and while the cocktails are pricey (I think my Old Fashioned was $12), they're worth it.

Here's what I got to sample!

SPICY CUCUMBER SALAD & DRY FRIED LONG BEANs - First up, we had some tasty veggies. I am pretty sure the green beans were switched out with broccoli rabe and woodyear mushrooms, because the pictures I have do not look like green beans. I loved the broccoli rabe mix, the veggies were cooked to a perfect al dente and seasoned well. I kept the spicy cucumber salad as a palate cleanser throughout the meal. I'm glad I did, as the rich food needed something in between courses!

LION HEAD MEATBALL SOUP (Meatball stuffed with crab). This was probably my least favorite course, but I still really liked it! The broth-to-noodle ratio was a bit off, I would have liked more broth, but the idea of a seafood-stuffed meatball was too good to pass up either way.

SALT & PEPPER CRAB - Probably my favorite course. I've never had fried crab before! The batter was delightfully seasoned and just a little bit spicy.

CANTONESE ROASTED CHICKEN - You know it's good when it's served on a fancy log. And goodness, this was flavorful! The chicken was so moist and tender and perfectly seasoned on its own, but the accompanying sauce just hit it out of the park.

DAN TA ( egg custard, meyer lemon, and vanilla). The perfect end to the meal. I love ending on a light, sweet custard with fruit. I've never been much for heavy desserts, so this was perfect.

Old Thousand is a delicious, authentic Chinese Food restaurant with its own modern twist. The menu is reasonably priced--the meal I got was a $70 two-person special, but most entrees are under $20. Overall, it's a great new restaurant that fits right in here in Austin. Definitely check it out!

Old Thousand is located on 1000 E 11th Street in Austin, Texas. and is open from 5pm to 11pm/12am daily.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's Day Hot Buttered Bourbon for Two with Drizly


 I received a complimentary delivery through Drizly as well as gift cards to facilitate my review and recipe. All opinions are my own.

Have y'all heard about Drizly? It's an awesome alcohol delivery service.  According to their website, they work with local stores so you can shop their shelves using your smartphone or computer to order beer, wine and liquor at the touch of a button.

I was lucky enough to get to try their service and it was just as easy as it sounds! If you're 21, you like booze, and you don't want to leave your house, it's a great way to get any number of excellent beer, wine, and cocktail fixin's right to your door.

I don't know about you guys, but getting booze delivered to my door on Valentine's Day seems just as good, if not better, than getting chocolates! Even if you don't have a special someone to share a bottle of wine or cozy warm beverage with (see my recipe below!) Drizly is a great way to get good booze quickly.

Alright so, about this drink--it's RED VELVET hot buttered BOURBON. It's like my favorite things got together to give me a wonderous Valentine's Day treat! I plan on sharing

Red Velvet Hot Buttered Bourbon
(Makes about two large mug's worth)

  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup bourbon - I used Bulleit that I got delivered straight from Drizly! Click here to add it to your cart now!
  • 1 cup boiling water

Topping: sprinkles and whipped cream.

-Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the cocoa powder, food coloring, whipping cream, and spices.

-Spoon the batter into a blender or food processor and, while running, slowly pour in the bourbon and boiling water (do this with the top ON, make sure your food processor or blender has an opening for this!).

-Serve in a mug with a bit of whipped cream and sprinkles

Friday, February 3, 2017

These are a Few of my Favorite Things 2

Happy Three Year Anniversary of being our dog, Lily! <3

Happy New Year, everyone! Well, I guess I'm a little late with that... happy, Valentine's Day season? I know it's a weird time for some people, whether you're not in a relationship and feeling lonely or you're in one and feeling pressured. Cory and I typically stay in, unplug, and make a delicious meal together. I don't know how I'll top the "surf, turf, and sky" dinner I made a few years back, but we'll see!

Did you see my recent recipe post? Check out how to make a delicious One Pot Pork Loin Dinner!

Now, onto my favorite things!

Here's where I share things related to food/blogging/cooking/restaurants that I have discovered and/or received for review. If there's a *, I've received a product gratis from the company for purpose of reviewing.

Old Thousand* - We were invited to an amazing Chinese New Year dinner here and I was extremely impressed. I think I've finally found my favorite Chinese food in Austin! The meal was a four course traditional new year's menu:

LION HEAD MEATBALL SOUP (Meatball stuffed with crab)
DAN TA ( egg custard, meyer lemon, and vanilla)

Isla* - I attended an Austin Food Blogger Alliance happy hour at the popular Peche sister restaurant, and got to sample a number of items. They all were delicious, but I ended up ordering a few fresh oysters to supplement the snacks and I am SO glad I did! These are hands-down the freshest, most flavorful oysters I have found in the city. I will definitely be back.

Salsa Maya - I discovered this amazing condiment after sampling it at Spec's. And my life will never be the same. It's aioli with habanero, but the spice isn't overwhelming and the creamy texture balances it nicely. Using the jarred spicy mayo, I make an incredible crusted chicken, but what I really love is that you can buy them in little ketchup-packet-sized amounts. I keep some in my purse for when my lunch needs a little kick!

Things I find on the internet and stuff.

Stay informed! See a rage-inducing news bite on social media? Be sure to check out Politifact's Truthometer and Snopes to make sure it's legit.

Does anyone remember Neopets? My account is nearly FIFTEEN years old now--wow!

Catana, a web comic... is she secretly illustrating my own relationship? These are too cute.

I've never had a Scotch egg, but they look SO good! I think I'll try this recipe from Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen soon!

Each week I’m going to highlight a different thing I love in ATX. Might be a list, might be one highlight, who knows! This week it’s…

My Favorite Happy Hours

Peached Tortilla -Snacks and cocktails for $5, Tacos for $3, and a special burger for $7. Do yourself a favor and order the Kimchi Arrancini Balls and Mom's Toast (the owner's mother's own recipe) and pair it with a whiskey drink. This is hands-down my favorite happy hour in town!

Pacific Rim - Especially their $1 menu on Tuesdays! Holy balls this place is amazing. I ate my fill of fresh, delicious sushi for only $20 last Tuesday. Color me impressed. Also enjoy select saki for $3-$5.

Tacos n' Tequila - Mondays they have a $1.50 build-your-own taco bar, and the rest of the week they have decent discounts on their expertly crafted cocktails. Definitely go on Monday if you can! Their unique taco offerings are great and reasonably priced, too, if you miss Monday's taco bar.

Odd Duck - One of the places I can only really afford DURING Happy Hour, I love the little bites Odd Duck offers during this time. Their menu is highly seasonal, so stop in for a $5 beer and whatever the chef has whipped up.

Salty Sow - $5 snack menu and discounted drinks. All of the yes. This is another place I don't frequent other than happy hour (unless it's "date night") but my favorite thing to do is order one of everything off the menu!

Question of the week: What charities and organizations do you donate to?