Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kirin Ichiban Inspired Dinner -- Sushi/Maki and Stir Fry #sponsored #MC #KirinUSA

Note: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. However, all opinions are my own and I would never review a product I did not believe in.

My love affair with sushi began young. As you may know, my Dad was a terrible cook (though, much to our chagrin, he cooked... a lot), so it was always a treat when he brought home something store-bought when my brother and I would visit him on the weekends. Whole Foods sushi, though it was called Bread & Circus then, was one of my favorite take-out dinners. It was light, fresh, and felt "cool" to my 11-year-old brain who knew sushi was the favorite of hip teenagers on tv.


It wasn't until years later that I realized the pre-packaged, refrigerated sushi was nothing compared to a REAL roll from a true Japanese restaurant. Accompanied by sake, or Japanese beer. My one true sushi love will always be Zen in downtown Northampton, but I've been dying for the chance to try my hand at making some myself.


SO, I was absolutely thrilled when I was accepted into Millennial Central's campaign for Kirin Ichiban! My mission: to create a Japanese-inspired dish that compliments Kirin's clean, crisp flavor profile. Kirin has partnered with celebrity chef, Candice Kumai, to bring Japanese-style beer to the growing Asian cuisine movement. Throughout the year, Kumai will share special recipes and pairing tips on Kirin’s Facebook page.


Kirin Ichiban is one of Japan’s oldest breweries, with a history dating back to 1888. The beer is a 100-percent malt, first-press beer that only uses the first strain of malt liquid, which means it’s literally beer at its purest. It's a great beer for just about any meal, but is created with Japanese flavors in mind. In Japan, it's served with a scoop of frozen beer on top--kind of like a beer slushie! American bars are apparently catching onto this trend too, I hope it hits Austin before the 90 degree temps do... for more information on Kirin, check out their website.


This is actually the beer that Cory orders whenever I drag him to a sushi restaurant. I've noted his disappointment when he has to order a competitor beer--"they WISH they were Kirin," he sighs. Seriously, this is no joke. I'm pretty sure he was excited to be the fiancé of a food blogger the day I got the box of beer in the mail.

So it was only fair that, in addition to my sushi experiment, I make a dish for Cory to enjoy his Kirin with, since my meat-n-potatoes fiancé does not like sushi one bit.


Once I started, I just couldn't stop, and ended up making three different rolls. I made two traditional rolls–California and Philadelphia–and one that I came up with on my own: tempura shrimp with mango and avocado, topped with eel sauce. I am not a huge beer connoisseur, though I am learning, so I tend to stick to the lighter beers. Kirin Light was perfect for me and my sushi FEAST I created for myself. I used a sip of Kirini Light and a bit of pickled ginger in between rolls for the ultimate palate cleanser.


For Cory, I made a heavier dish--a Japanese-inspired stir fry. This was a better fit for Kirin Ichiban. The slightly-sweet, slightly-spicy, thick sauce made with ginger, mirin wine, and soy sauce complimented the smooth Kirin Ichiban.  Cory said that the beer was "crisp, smooth but still flavorful. A slight fruitiness that counteracts the heaviness of the food."

Overall, this was a really fun campaign, and really opened my eyes to the versatility of Kirin beer. I think it'd make an awesome summer BBQ beer, too!



Sushi
(Adapted from recipes by Alton Brown, Just One Cook Book, and the Kirin Ichiban packet)
  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 tbss sugar
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 4 sheets nori seaweed
Fillings
Philadelphia: smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber slices
California: crab (I used boiled snow crab), avocado, cucumber, black sesame seeds
QLCC Roll: shrimp tempura, avocado, mango

Sauces
Philadelphia: capers
California: spicy mayo (3 tbs mayo + 1 tsp sriracha sauce)
QLCC Roll: eel sauce (equal parts mirin, soy sauce, and sugar, reduced over high heat to a thick sauce)

-Rinse rice until water runs clear.

Bring rice and water to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.

When rice has cooled to room temp, slowly fold in the vinegar mixture. Let sit for ten minutes.

Cover your sushi mat with plastic wrap and fill a small bowl with water. Place nori on mat and cover with about a half cup of the rice, leaving a little space free of rice (1/2 inch or so) closest to you for adding your fillings.


Carefully roll your mat with the nori, distributing firm but gentle pressure as you roll. Use the water to wet your fingers so the rice and sushi does not stick to them as you work. For an inverted roll, flip the nori over once you have added the rice and moisten your sushi mat with a bit of water to keep it from sticking.

Once you have rolled the sushi, use a very sharp knife to slice it. It works best to cut in halves until you have about 8 pieces. Top with desired sauces, and serve!

For shrimp tempura: Use deveined shrimp with tails. Coat in corn starch, then dip in a mixture of 1 cup cold water, 1 egg, and 1 cup flour. Deep fry in hot oil. Once tails are bright orange and batter has crisped, remove from oil and pat dry with paper towel.


Japanese-Inspired Stir Fry
(Recipe adapted from AllRecipes)
  • 1 pound sliced boneless steak
  • 1/4 cup mirin wine
  • 3 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbs white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp pressed garlic
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 head baby bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • White rice, cooked
-In a small bowl, mix together the corn starch, broth, soy sauce, and sugar. Set aside.

-Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Brown the meat on both sides, then set aside.

-Use the wine to deglaze the (still hot) skillet and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the remaining oil and add onions, peppers, garlic, and ginger. Cook until onions are transluscent. Add mushrooms and snow peas. Cook 5 minutes, and add bok choy.

-When vegetables are tender, add the soy sauce mixture and stir until thick. Add in the beef and drippings and cook until heated through.

-Serve over rice.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Has Sprung! -- Loaded Potato Waffle Bites


 Spring is here! The weather is finally getting warm (or, warmER, it has hardly been "cold" here in Austin!) and I couldn't be happier. I cannot wait to break out the sun dresses and frolic on the daily.


The Austin bats are back! This picture is from mom's visit last weekend. They aren't at full capacity yet--by late summer there are nearly 2 million bats under the South Congress bridge--but it's still pretty amazing to watch.


More outside time with Lily, my amazing little pooch.


 Big Boobie Bingo has returned to Maria's patio at Maria's Taco Express, and it remains my favorite local event. This was the night Lauren and I actually BOTH won prizes!


Finally, my hair needed a bit of a springy change, so I bought a highlighting kit and went to town. I LOVE the way it came out, and it was only $6 for Revlon Frost & Glow! I highly recommend it if you want to lighten up your color a bit but don't have the money for a salon.

Anyway, enough of my Springtime love, onto the recipe.

These waffle things are all over Pinterest. I know.

But they were too good NOT to try myself. And the pictures came out decent, so on the off chance someone hasn't tried these yet and needs some MORE convincing, here. Let me try to convince you.


Tiny, crispy potato waffles, with melted cheese, sour cream, bacon, and chives. Delicious. The perfect party app.

Then I got cocky--If I could do this with regular potatos, IMAGINE what sweet potatoes would be like! I started fantasizing about the paleo-friendly treats I would soon create.


...Sweet potatoes = messy waffle iron, and burnt mush. Oh well. Can't win them all.

Loaded Potato Waffle Bites

  • 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes (or 1-2 cooked, mashed potatoes with added milk, butter, and salt and pepper)
  • 2 tsp smashed garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful cheese
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3 tbs sour cream

-Preheat oven to 350, and warm up your waffle iron to high.

-In a small dish, mis together the mashed potatoes, garlic, and egg until well combined.

-Drop by the over-flowing spoonful (ideally, a couple tablespoons) into the waffle iron.

-Cook on high until browned on both sides.

-Place on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cheese and bacon. Bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melty.

-Top with sour cream and chives, serve.


Note: While I was inspired by a Pinterest post I cannot find at the moment, I threw together this recipe from my own brain. Any resemblance to another recipe is totally accidental.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Great Mom Visit and Some Potato Chips


I love when people come to visit, because it means that I get to do all the touristy stuff that I secretly love but can't admit to if I'm trying to become a "real" Austinite. Over the weekend my mom and my fiancé's mom made their first trek down to Austin since we moved here in November. It was really an amazing weekend and I am so happy I was able to show the moms around my beautiful new city!

We packed so many things into five days, it was nearly exhausting.

First up, we went to Chuy's for lunch as soon as the moms landed. It's still our favorite Tex Mex place in the city (again, we're new! I know there are better!) and the moms enjoyed trying the THREE dips Cory and I always get when we're there. It was too early for margaritas, but just the right time for enchiladas.

The next day I took the moms on a shopping day to The Domain and South Congress. We saw the bats emerge from the South Congress Bridge at sunset, then ate dinner at one of my favorite food trucks--Ms. P's Electric Cock!

Since the "i love you so much" wall was on Cory and my Christmas card this year, we also had to make a stop here. I love you, mom!

My mom took a picture in front of every. single. cactus. This one was from Saturday, when we went to San Antonio to see the Alamo. The San Antonio day was fun because I hadn't visited that city yet. We also explored historic Gruene.


Another tourist spot I'd never been to: The Greetings From Austin wall! We braved getting hit in oncoming traffic to take a million and a half pictures here.


On the last day, I took my mom to The Oasis to see the view. I'd never been here because people had warned me the food was not so good. The view though, was incredible! I'd love to come back here for a drink sometime. My mom is terrified of heights, so she just took a picture of me here.


Finally, I took my mom to one of my new favorite places: The Driftwood winery. I LOVE this place. Gorgeous view, amazing wine, and we even made some new friends here--a family from Europe who was visiting because their son is moving here. Very cool! Dinner was at Salt Lick, because this is another place I love bringing people.

Anyways, none of this has anything to do with Potato Chips, I just felt like sharing some pictures.

I loved my mom's visit, and seeing Cory's mom, and we had one of the most fun weekends I've had in Austin in a long time! I miss them so much already and hope they can visit again soon.



And now, for the chips.

DID YOU KNOW IT'S WICKED EASY TO MAKE POTATO CHIPS? Mind-blowingly easy.

Seriously, this recipe is kind of a joke because it's really THAT easy. And delicious. And you'll wonder why you bother dropping $4 on a bag of chips when potatoes are like, 50 cents.



Homemade Potato Chips
  • 2-3 large potatoes--I used golden potatoes
  • Enough oil to cover 1 inch in a large frying pan
  • Seasonings

Equipment:
  • Mandolin or killer knife skillz
  • Frying pan
  • Slotted spoon
  • Drying rack


 -Heat your oil to about 375 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, pay attention to how the potato sizzles when dropped in. Sizzling = good.

 -Use a mandolin to slice the potatoes as thin as you're able. Thinner = crispier. Drop them in batches into the hot oil.

-Watch the potatoes. Once they begin to curl and look brown around the edges, remove with a slotted spoon.

-Move to drying rack and sprinkle with desired seasonings--I did plain salt, salt and pepper, and parsley and parm--and let dry for ten minutes. Store in an airtight bag.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Toast!!!1

 hay guise 2day im gonna share a recipee wit u all for my favorit recipe its TOAST!!1

so toastt is so eazy to maik but sumtimes it can seem liek its not so eazy but its ok just stay wit me ok??

first u gotta get yr bred and your butter PROTIP if u use spread butter it wont run yr TOAST!!1 i jus hate wen you got toast and then it is gets all broke bcuz you press with the nife too hard u kno?

k enuff about that here is the recipee!!!


Things U Need
-yr favorit bred
-butter

supplies
-toaster (or toasterr oven leik I have here)
-plate for wen toadt is done
-nife for butter

-mak sure yr bred is no moldy. moldy bred is ugh.,

-put bred in toaster or if yu hav a toaster oven use taht bcuz thats whut i have here


-toast bred yu don want it not toasted but you dont want it burnt so watch it close unles u like burnd bred but i dont

-PPut butter on toast and let it melt a littel so its all melty

-EAT YR TOAST!!!1

PROTIP it can be glutin free if yu use glutin free bred but it migt taste a lil differint.

u culd use penut butters but jam too

its so good and for brekfest or maybe use for sandwich for lunch or BRUNCH cuz brunch is best its liek brekfest AND lunch so good.


IF YOU LYKE DIS RECIPEE U SHULD SHARE IT ON STUFF! Pintrest is best xuz theres lots of kool stuff on here!1









*APRIL FOOLS*I just tried to put together the worst recipe and writing style I could think of. Full disclosure: I actually feel bad for Fake Ashley who wrote this, she just really loves that toast and wants to share it with the world! ...seriously though, that was so difficult to write. I kept having to go back and misspell things because I was on autopilot.

I was inspired by the messages I used to get on my old dating profile, heh.

Did any of you get fooled today? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jaeger Schnitzel -- Kitchen Wins



So, I know I said the potato chips would be the next recipe I post BUT I couldn't keep this one in any longer. Potato chips will be coming soon, no worries. Or, I might make it a Facebook-exclusive recipe... we'll see. Anyway.

Most recipes I make are new recipes. Something I've never tried, with new ingredients or using new techniques. Often, I end up with something that may or may not be tasty, but definitely isn't photo-worthy. When the stars align and somehow it all comes together and I create a recipe that is a success both taste-and-visually? It's cause for celebration.


As was the case with this jaeger schnitzel (weiner schnitzel with mushroom sauce). Before I left western Massachusetts, I had a divine meal at a German restaurant and got this amazing dish. Ever since, I'd been toying with it in my mind to make it tummy-friendly for my gluten sensitivity.

The Fiancé even devoured this dish!--not a TOTAL surprise, since it didn't really have any veggies, but still. When he fills his plate and goes back for more you know it's a win.

When it works, it just works. This meal is incredible. Next time I'll toy with trying to make spaetzle, but I didn't quite have the time this go around. I left in the dairy, even though that doesn't always agree with me, and the flavor was definitely worth it.


The directions are a little involved, but overall it's a very easy recipe! I had most of these things on hand, too, so the whole process took about 20 minutes. A great idea for a quick, easy, DELICIOUS dinner :)


Jaeger Schnitzel (Gluten Free)
(Inspired by this recipe)

  • 4 large boneless, skinless pork chops, pounded thin with a mallet to 1/4" thickness
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3 tbs gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil

For the Sauce

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/5 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbs parsley, freshly chopped


-Melt 2 tablespoons butter with olive oil in skillet.

-Mix together almond flour, salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning in one bowl. Spread gluten-free flour on a plate. Lightly coat each thin chop with the gluten free flour, then dip into the egg wash, and finally coat generously with the almond meal mixture.

-Place breaded chops two by two in your skillet and cook each side until crispy--about 3-4 minutes per side. Put on a paper-towel lined plate and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

-For the sauce: cook onion until translucent and add sliced mushrooms, let cook until the mushrooms are just soft.

-Add broth and wine, cook until steaming. Add 1/2 cup of the cream, bring to a boil and simmer for several minutes.

-Mix remaining 2 tablespoons of cream with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Add slurry to mushroom mixture and bring to a boil, stirring vigorously to avoid clumps. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

-Serve with mushroom sauce spooned over cutlets. Traditionally with a potato side dish, or as I've done here with a big helping of buttered peas.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Zesty Hamburger Soup


How have I never blogged this recipe? I've been making it for YEARS, definitely years before I was ever flooding the internet with recipes. It was probably the second meal I learned to make from memory as an adult, the first being my version of my mom's famous Baked Mac and Cheese.

I made a big batch of this soup when it was chilly a few weeks ago--true Austinites were bundled up in their parkas but I was doing okay with just a fleece, I guess my "Texas skin" just hasn't come in yet--and now the sun is back and temps are creeping back up.

However, if my Facebook newsfeed is to be believed, my New England friends are still toughing it through the Polar Vortex, so I'm sure this soup will be well received.


This makes a huge batch, but it freezes well. I kept a good stock of it in my college apartment's freezer and pulled it out when I didn't have the time or money to grocery shop.

This soup is very hearty, just a little bit spicy, and these days I eliminate the noodles, so it's also gluten free! I imagine if you're paleo-ing it up you could sub out the white potatoes for sweet, and get rid of the corn. Either way, it's pretty freaking delicious.

Zesty Hamburger Soup
(I believe the original recipe was from Home Comfort)

  • 1 pound ground beef (also can substitute ground turkey)
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced baby carrots
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth 
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups uncooked shell pasta
  • 4 cups V8 juice
  • 1.5 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • Hot sauce (as much or as little as you'd like--I like it spicy so I use a lot, plus a little cayenne pepper)


-Cook beef, celery, carrots, and onion over medium heat until meat is browned. Add the garlic and mix in.

-Drain the fat, then mix in broth, potatoes, corn, hot sauce, and pasta.

-Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes and pasta are cooked to your liking (I'm not a fan of al dente so I go for the full 15 to get them a little softer)

-Add the rest of the ingredients (V8, diced tomatoes, and sugar) and heat over medium until heated through.*

Garnish with a little bit of fresh parmesan cheese.
*If you'd like to add noodles, do so at this point. If you are freezing, make noodles separately and keep out of the portions you're freezing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Austin Eats Roundup 1


It's SXSW here in Austin, which means a huge influx of people to our little big city. Lots of people returning for the fest, lots of newbies, and I'm sure EVERYONE is wondering where the best places to eat are!


I decided it was worth mentioning a few of my favorites. I'm a new Austinite, so these are the places I've tried so far and really enjoyed--not necessarily a "local's POV" just yet, but I'm kind of a foodie and definitely on a budget, so you might find my suggestions helpful :)

I might also do a round up of the more "splurge" ish joints I've been to, keep an eye out! You also may have seen some of these in my past Austin Roundups.

Tex Mex


I am a die-hard Chuy's addict. I've heard mixed reviews from locals, but to me, it just has everything: fun and funky atmosphere, extensive menu with many options in a range of prices, tasty food, and free chips. Plus, it's the best queso I've ever had (and I've been judging places pretty harshly based on queso options). I've never had a bad meal here, and I've been about five times since moving to Austin. I know I need to try more places to get a better informed opinion, but the bottom line is: if you want an Austin experience, tasty Tex Mex, and free chips, this is your place. I suggest getting a side of creamy jalapeno dressing with your chips and trying the Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom enchilada. You won't be sorry. Arrive early for Happy Hour, when margaritas are $3.50!


Torchy's Tacos are great if you want a quick taco that tastes gourmet. They also have perfected the art of the breakfast taco--if I had my choice I'd do breakfast here and lunch/dinner at Chuy's every single day. There are multiple locations with the hovering devil baby logo looming over the entrance. I am in love with their street corn, and often just get this and nothing else. I suggest the street corn (duh.), the Wrangler (breakfast) and the Ranch Hand (lunch). Plus their sodas are local and natural, so that's always a plus!

...and if any Austinites are reading this and want to direct me towards your favorite Tex Mex place, PLEASE leave it in the comments! I've only tried a few others but these are still my winners :)

Food Trucks


Gotta give some love to Fried and True, always. Check out my full review on my first Austin roundup. Arielle is lovely and hilarious, and happens to be from the same neck of the woods (Western Massachusetts!) as me :) Get the corn dog with deep fried oreos for dessert and know what heaven is.

Also much love to Ms. P's Electric Cock. Did a full review recently, check it out. Basically: Best fried chicken in the city.


Chi'lantro is a drunchie paradise (drunchies = munchies + drunk). Located near the infamous Dirty 6 (6th Street) the line is endless once the bars let out. Thankfully, I got to try their famous kimchi fries while sober, so I could fully enjoy them and not have to wait in line. The orange sauce is so delicious I want to freaking BATHE in it. Eat quickly, as the fries will get soggy, and definitely share with friends because the portion is huge. My friend got the Quesadillas and while she saved me a triangle, after the fries I couldn't handle anything else. She says they were as good as they looked, though.


Picknik is a paleo food truck. I've only been here once, but the soup was so delicious it's definitely worth a mention. And since I do my own half-assed paleo thing most of the time, it's nice to know there's a place I can go and get a Paleo meal. It's expensive, but delicious. And worth a try whether you're on the diet or not. The bulletproof coffee gets stellar reviews but I was more of a fan of the Yeti coffee "milkshake." The offerings change daily.

"Fast Food"


P. Terry's or In-n-Out. I'm sure there's more, but if you're from anywhere that doesn't have either of these heavenly burgers, you need to check them out. I am an In-n-Out loyalist and nothing can compare to me, but P.Terry's has a location closer to me, so when I'm craving burgers they typically win. Honorable mention to Mighty Fine Burgers for having a gluten free bun!

BBQ

I haven't tried Franklin's yet, because I haven't had a free Saturday to waste 3 hours waiting in line. However, these are my faves so far.


Salt Lick in Driftwood (previous review here) is the place we take out-of-towners. It's delicious BBQ and a pretty fun experience. It's a long, scenic drive, and an even longer wait if you come on a busy weekend night. However, they offer lemonade and popcorn to ease the wait, and usually have live music playing. Plus there's a little place next door where you can taste wine and buy beer to go with your meal. I've never had a bad meal here.


Rudy's is definitely more accessible, a little less expensive, and just as delicious if not moreso. You can find them off most of the major highways in town. Look for the gas stations with Rudy's but don't worry--this isn't your typical gas station quality food. You pay by the pound and get served on parchment paper. The sides are a little underwhelming (I get the cole slaw, it's decent) but the perfectly smoked meat more than makes up for it. Top with the BBQ sauce from the table and it's just out of this world.