Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Coffee Cake Donuts with Espresso Glaze #Lavazza #sponsored


This post is brought to you in partnership with Lavazza. All thoughts and opinions are my own.





Though my can't-skip-it morning coffee is a recent development of my working life, I can't remember a time when I didn't love coffee. I can recall making my parents breakfast in bed, and mixing coffee crystals into tap water that was as hot I could get it and pouring a heavily sugared version for myself probably at age 6 or so.




Little did 6-year-old Ashley know that there was a bigger, better world of coffee waiting. Lately I've been somewhat of a coffee snob, only wanting overpriced brews from my local chain because I didn't know I could get the same quality at home with Lavazza!




I'm so excited to be a brand ambassador and "passionista" for Lavazza coffee. During my study abroad in 2007 I fell in love with this brand, and now I can make my own cup of Italy's favorite coffee at home! I've yet to find a coffee that tastes as fresh and rich as Lavazza---and I do drink my fair share of coffee, more than most people I know at least...

So stay tuned, I'll be posting a number of Lavazza-themed recipes and giveaways from now until December.




First up I have these gorgeous Coffee Cake Donuts. They really are the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of Lavazza's Perfetto blend! I've always wondered--why doesn't coffee cake contain actual coffee? I felt the need to rectify this by drizzling them with espresso glaze.

I daresay it's perfetto itself ;)


Coffee Cake Donuts with Espresso Glaze

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
Espresso Glaze

  • 1/4 cup brewed espresso
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a donut baking pan and set aside*

-Sift together all dry cake ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients. Be sure the butter is melted but not piping hot, and add to wet ingredients SLOWLY so as not to cook the egg.

-Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking to get rid of clumps. Pour batter evenly in donut wells.

-In a separate bowl, mix together the crumble topping ingredients. The topping should stick together lightly, making large crumbs. If mixture is too wet, alternatively add more sugar and flour until desired consistency is reached.

-Sprinkle topping generously over donut wells. The cakes will rise and separate, so more is better for a full coating.

-Bake for about 20 minutes, until cake is spongy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature.

-Mix together the glaze until it is about the consistency of glue. It should be thick, but fall off the spoon. Drizzle over cooled donuts and let the glaze set.

-Serve with your favorite Lavazza coffee!


*Alternatively, you can use a muffin tin, this will make about 8 cakes.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Brussels Sprouts Bake

Hey all, sorry for the lag without a recipe. As referenced in my last post, things have been rough around here.

March was full of all sorts of bad luck. Financially and emotionally (those seem to go together, don't they?). It started off great--with a new job and a new apartment--but quickly went downhill with our wedding savings having to be drained for an unexpected financial emergency, my fiancé losing his job, me having to get medical care before my new insurance kicked in, and my family pet passing away unexpectedly, among other minor issues and such peppered in for good measure. I'm hoping April has better days. Thankfully we have a good support network of friends and family. I know it's all temporary, and things will be okay, but I'm not quite yet at the mindset where I actually believe that yet.

Would appreciate any positive thoughts you have to send our way.



The light situation in the new apartment isn't the best, so I'm still working through my backlog of pictures. More incentive to figure out my camera settings I guess (extra points: my favorite lens BROKE during the Debacle that is March, ugh) Getting to the bottom of the barrel here, because I'm not super thrilled with how these came out. However, the recipe is great.

I'm on a never-ending quest to get my fiancé to enjoy veggies. Typically, this involves covering them in cheese. It's a start.

Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cheese of choice, shredded
  • 2 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup crushed potato chips (I used Pringles)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Steam brussels sprouts until al dente, I typically microwave them with a bit of water for 4 minutes.

-Over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp of butter and whisk in flour. Slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly, until well combined. Add garlic, onions, and seasoning. Let simmer for five minutes, until thick.

-Stir in cheese and mix until melted. Toss in brussels sprouts, and pour into a baking dish.

-Melt remaining butter over low heat, and toss in potato chips. Sprinkle over brussels sprouts.

-Bake for 30 minutes, until topping has just begun to brown. Serve hot.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paleo/GF Crepes and Puppy Love

It's sad to be so far from home when something tragic happens.


Sometimes it's even worse when that tragic event is the passing of a family pet. Especially one you only got to enjoy for a few years, and whose little life ended far too soon.


This little dog meant so much to my family. She was like another person. And we only had five short years with her (I had four, since I moved to Austin last year). 



I have my own dog and cat now, but Tocha will always be my last family pet before I moved out on my own. She was a treasure. The happiest little pup you'd ever meet, so full of love for everyone. 


Knowing she's gone is a knife in the gut I can't really handle right now.

Go snuggle your pets, they're gone from this world far too soon.

Guys, I really don't have many positive things to say today, I just know I need to keep myself to my weekly blog posting or I'll fall out of the habit, and I've been sitting on this recipe for a while. So here, enjoy it, it's a good one (though you'll notice it's shockingly similar to a savory recipe I posted recently). Low carb, much flavor, good times.



Such a sad thing to top off one of the worst months I've been through in a long while. It's gotten to the point where I'm just looking at the sky and asking the universe "what are you going to do now?" I'd appreciate any good energy and positive thoughts you can send my way. Hoping upon hoping some good luck turns up soon.


Paleo crepes
(Adapted from Infertility Tho Art a Heartless Bitch)

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp tapioca flour 
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ghee or butter
  • Coconut cream or whipped cream and fruit for topping

-Mix together dry ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle in chopped scallions

-In a separate bowl, mix together egg and coconut milk. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry, mixing well with a wire whisk.

-Heat a skillet to medium high. Melt butter, and immediately pour about 1/8 cup of batter into the pan. Cook until edges begin to set, then flip.

-Top with coconut whipped cream (coconut cream with a bit of maple syrup, whipped in a stand mixer until fluffy) and fruit of choice. Pictured: peaches.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Dublin Special: Beer Bread Pudding

Once you've made that tasty, delicious load of Guinness beer bread... you'll probably want to make another batch, and turn it into this ^^


Last year, St. Patrick's Day came and went in Austin with nothing but a few local bars serving a corned beef special. Since it usually occurs in the middle of SXSW, Boston's favorite holiday (where the streets run green with dyed PBR) goes relatively unnoticed.




This little holiday reminds me of Massachusetts, or my two trips to Ireland. It reminds me that I need to return to Europe someday...




This year, I have corned beef and potatoes waiting in the fridge, some Guinness at the ready, and this dessert on the table.


I love bread pudding. It's the nemesis of low carb diets for sure, but if you happen to make this for your St. Paddy's Day table and take a bite, I won't tell. It's so easy to make, and is so editable to whatever you want it to do. This pudding has all the flavors of Ireland's famous liquors: Guinness, Bailey's, and Jameson.

PS. Check out this awesome Buzzfeed list I made of the best St. Paddy's Day recipes that are NOT green! :)




For the Bread Pudding

  • 1 loaf Guinness Beer Bread
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Irish Cream
  • For topping
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x9 baking dish, set aside.

-Cube the beer bread and set out to dry out a bit while you mix together the rest of the ingredients. Or, you can put them on a single layer and pop them in the oven while you prep.

-In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, cream, and Irish cream until well combined. Once beer bread is slightly hard to the touch, toss in the mixture until well-coated. Let sit 5 minutes.

-Prepare topping by mixing together until at a crumbly consistency. If the mixture is too wet, add more oats or a bit of flour. You want big crumbles of slightly moist crumbs.

-Pour bread mixture into baking dish, top with crumbles. Bake for 45 minutes, or until pudding is set. Finished pudding should be springy, not wet, when pressed with your finger or a spoon.

Whiskey Salted Caramel

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Irish whiskey


-In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar over high heat until caramel in color. Be careful not to burn!

-Carefully drop in cubes of butter, whisking until well combined. Once melted, SLOWLY pour in the cream.

-Reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to foam.

-Remove from heat and stir in salt and whiskey. Let come to room temperature and pour into jar.

Guinness Chocolate Sauce
(adapted from AllRecipes.com)

  • 1 12oz bottle of Guinness
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla

-In a medium saucepan, heat the Guinness over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half, about 40 minutes, watching it carefully to prevent bubbling over.

-Add sugar, cocoa powder, water, and vanilla. Let come to a simmer, and stir frequently until mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, and pour into jar.

Irish Cream Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp Irish Cream


-In a stand or hand mixer, whip cream and powdered sugar on high until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to low, and mix in the Irish Cream until just blended.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guinness Beer Bread & Cinnamon Cinnamon Browned Butter


Beer bread is a magical thing. It's basically flour, salt, baking powder, and beer. The combinations of how you can make it truly are endless. You can edit it to work with any beer or flavor, be sweet or savory, be a side dish or a breakfast or bread pudding (hint, hint).

Take this Guinness beer bread, for example. Just a few extras, and you have a unique and seriously delicious, quick bread. No yeast, no rising, just deliciousness.

If anyone is remembering my "low carb diet" right now... shut up.




The highlight of this bread is really the cinnamon browned butter BUT I forgot to photograph it. Ugh. Trust me though, it's the perfect thing to spread on a toasty piece of Guinness beer bread. I can't NOT tell you about it.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Browned butter

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar

-In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until golden brown. Pay close attention that the butter does not burn!

-Let sit for 5 minutes, then add cinnamon and sugar. Mix well, and pour into a small jar.

-Let butter get to room temperature, shaking jar regularly so sediment does not sink to the bottom. To speed up the process, you can put the jar in the fridge or freezer, but the shaking will be more frequent.



Guinness Beer Bread
(Adapted from The Black Peppercorn)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 bottle Guinness Stout (12 oz)
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread pan with butter.

Sift together all dry ingredients into a stand mixer.

Set the mixer on low speed and slowly pour in the Guinness, being careful it doesn't bubble over. Mix until just wet, do not over-mix.

Spoon batter into loaf pan. Pour melted butter on top, and sprinkle with oats.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

AFBA 2015 City Guide - Best Bar Bites in Austin #ATXBestEats


Hey guys! Welcome to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance's 2015 City Guide for Austin! We've come together to bring you the best of the best in Austin! Here's my roundup of the best bar snacks in Austin!

Austin is a foodie city, there's no denying it. So, when you end up at a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes all you can hope for is a seat at the bar. But did you know that Austin has more than a few watering holes that also offer amazing food? These are just a few that I've found in my journey through Austin's food and drink scene... Check it out!


Austin's Best Bar Bites



Pop–Austin's new champagne bar not only has my dream decorator (pink! silver! super girly and shiny and awesome!) but a whole menu of sliders? From basic beef patties to pork belly and beyond, their little menu is more than worth a try! Happy Hour is the best time to go, since all their sliders are half off. You can seriously create a feast out of sliders this way. They even have brunch sliders on the weekends! Hands-down the best one I sampled was the monte cristo. Apple fritters, deep fried with ham and cheese. Sounds weird, but so, so good. Do yourself a favor and head over to treat yourself to a champagne cocktail and a few sliders next happy hour! Pop is located at 620 West 6th Street in Austin and is open Mon-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am.

The Hideout Pub–Their slogan is "we're cheap so you don't have to be," AND their kitchen is open until midnight, so you know I'm all about this place.  Not to mention they're a mere 5 minutes from my apartment in way north Austin. They mean it about being cheap--they boast more than a handful of drinks under $5! I've had the burgers and the fish and chips here and both were great. Their wing nights are an awesome excuse to chow down on multiple chicken wings for under $1 apiece (60 cents per wing). They're known for their burgers, but all pub food is present and accounted for here. Plus the laid back vibe and huge patio are awesome for hanging out with friends on a weekend or happy hour. The Hideout Pub is located at 12164 N Mopac Expressway in Austin and is open Mon-Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 5pm-2am.




The Dogwood–The day I saw their steak fingers were no longer on the menu was a sad day (please bring them back!) as they were the best I'd found in the city. I can get my fix of flavorful fried meat with the chicken fingers, but if I'm going that route I'd opt for the chicken and waffles sliders. Thankfully, I have a new love in their Armadillo Eggs which are bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with shrimp, crab, and goat cheese, with a peach dipping sauce. The happy hour menu is decent for the price (get the bacon wrapped BBQ shrimp or the sweet potato tots), so get here early and enjoy a meal and a drink on their patio before the West 6th Street crowd rolls in. It's unique southern cuisine, and the bar itself is a good time. The Dogwood is located at 715 West 6th Street and is open Mon-Fri 4pm-2:00am, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am.


Black Star Coop–It's hard to say what's the best part of Black Star Coop. The wide selection of local beer? The fact that all staff is paid a living wage? Or the incredible food? It's a tough call, but I'd say while all those things rock, the food is my favorite. I could eat their thick-cut french fries every day, and their one-time fig-stuffed quail was my first ever foray into quail (I still am not quite sure how one goes about consuming a quail). Plus, it's the best fish and chips I've had in the city so far. And you know me, as a New Englander, I have high standards when it comes to fish. Added to the feel-good well-paid staff thing and the beers, this place definitely wins a spot on my Best Bar Bites list. Black Star Coop is located at 7020 Easy Wind Drive in Austin and is open Mon 4pm-12am, Tues-Thurs 11am-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 11am-12am.



Easy Tiger–I've only ever hit Easy Tiger after a quick jaunt down 6th Street on a weekend night, so honestly my taste buds haven't been at their peak performance. But the menu looks delicious and friends assure me it's worth it. Upstairs is an incredible bakery (I've had the bread while sober for sure), and downstairs is the beer garden where you can also order bites from the restaurant. I've ordered both their pretzel and small cheese plate. The menu is simple, but tasty, with a bit of German influence. Easy Tiger is located at 709 East 6th Street and is open Mon-Sun 7am-2am.




Casino el Camino–It's on every Best Burger in Austin list there is, so obviously they have the bar bites thing down, but their wings are also worth a try. I can also attest that they know their way around a hot dog, and their chili cheese fries have helped me quell more than one hangover in my past. Though a bartender here was a jerk to me about ordering a "skinny margarita" one time, the food has always been spot-on. Plus their bloody marys come adorned with so much food on top, that you may not even need to make a trip to the burger joint in the back. Casino El Camino is located at 517 East 6th Street in Austin and is open 11am-2am daily.

Drink.Well–The drinks are amazing, the food is as gorgeous as it is tasty, and 5 out of 5 foodies I asked highly recommend it, so this here is a win. The menu is upscale American pub fare, which pairs well with their 25 whiskeys and the aforementioned amazing cocktails. There aren't many places in town you can get a Scotch egg, or a HOMEMADE TWINKIE... yeah, this place pretty much rocks. Drink.Well is located at 207 East 53rd Street in Austin and is open Tues-Sat 4pm-12am, and Sun 11am-11pm.

AFBA 2015 City Guide - Best Restaurants North of 183 #ATXBestEats



Welcome to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance's 2015 City Guide for Austin! We've come together to bring you the best of the best in Austin, and here's my entry for the best restaurants north of 183!

I live basically on the Pflugerville town line, that is how far north I am. While many of Austin's star restaurants are downtown, there are a handful of hidden gems in my part of the city that are definitely worth a mention. Here's my roundup of the best restaurants north of 183, the "far north" of the city!



I hope this list convinces at least some of Austin's driving-averse folks to drive on up North to check out these awesome eats!

Best Austin Restaurants North of 183


NXNW Brewery–I'm still dreaming about the Smoked Pork Tenderloin I had here my first week in Austin. Absolutely mouth-gasm-worthy.  This is the ultimate spot for a date night that won't break the bank. The menu has a variety of tasty options, the service is quick and friendly, plus there's a plethora of tasty beers brewed on site. The one caveat is that it's a bit loud, but I tend to be too busy chowing down the food to notice. NXNW Brewery is open Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm, Friday 11am-11pm, Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-10pm.



Crawfish Shack & Oyster Bar–This tiny, unassuming strip mall location might seem like an unlikely place for sea and river food (crawfish are "river food" not "seafood" right??) but trust me. Trust. Me. Venture inside and you'll be treated to tasty, buttery crawfish all year long! The mudbugs come in three degrees of spice, swimming in butter with corn, sausage, and potato included if you order 2lbs or more. Crawfish purists chide Crawfish Shack for their use of butter, but it's insanely delicious and I'm sure they'd honor a request for no butter if asked. For those who aren't crawfish fans, try the shrimp or crab--my fiancé also says their steak is decent and great for the price. If you're going to go for a side, get the cajun spiced french fries, but I definitely prefer the potato cooked in the crawfish spice. The beers are cheap and the service is quick. This place is a must-visit whether it's your first time trying this Southern staple (I had my first crawfish here!) or your 100th. Crawfish Shack & Oyster Bar is located at 2013 Wells Branch Parkway in Austin and is open Mon-Thurs 11am-2pm and 5pm-10pm, Fri-Saturday 11am-2pm and 5pm-11pm, and Sunday 12pm-2pm and 5pm-10pm.



The Goodnight–Karaoke, bowling, cornhole, pool, and board games? You have my attention already. Add to that an incredibly tasty menu, and you have one of my favorite hangout spots in the city. This is another spot in Austin I frequent because I've never had a bad meal here. I didn't even know how kick ass their brunch was (complete with $1 mimosas!) until just a few weeks ago. For brunch, I suggest the steak and eggs or chicken-fried wild boar, and for any time I love the fries, tomato soup, and any of the burgers. Plus their cocktail menu is awesome and named after Austin landmarks! The Goodnight is located at 2700 West Anderson Lane and is open Sun-Thurs 11am-12am and Fri-Sat 11am-2am.

From the food truck... but it's the best picture I have ;)


Garbo's–Their website boldly states,"PROUDLY SERVING NEW ENGLAND CUISINE
WITH AN AUSTIN TWIST," so you know it's right up this New England ex-pat's alley! The Garbo's brick and mortar was a much-anticipated opening by anyone who knows what good lobster is. As a New Englander, I feel like I'm a good judge of this. The food truck always provided a decent roll, as well as a tasty clam chowder that was prepared the CORRECT way (as in, NO TOMATOES). The restaurant's menu boasts a number of seafood options, but their roll is definitely the star of the show. You can even have it Maine style (arguably the "correct" way) or Connecticut. Most Austinites I know prefer the latter, but it's really up to you! Garbo's is located at 14735 Bratton Lane and is open Mon-Thurs 11am-2pm and 5pm-9pm, Friday 11am-2pm and 5pm-10pm, and Sat 5pm-10pm.



New Fortune Dim Sum–Full disclosure: much like Crawfish Shack, New Fortune was actually my FIRST Dim Sum experience. But friends tell me that it's your best bet for Dim Sum in Austin, so I trust that my experience there was on par with what was expected. Get there early, by 11am the place is packed and there's a line out the door. Start slow with some wonton soup or a pork bun, and take your time (though devouring everything in sight IS tempting!) because the more unique items will definitely pass by when you're too full to fit them in if you're not careful! The staff is super friendly and knowledgable about the food, and the management stops by often to check in on how you're doing. "We weigh you when you get in, and then we weigh you when you get out--that is how you pay!" The manager joked after I confessed it was my first time. I wouldn't be surprised! My favorite dishes are the pork-filled buns and the crispy garlic shrimp. I missed out on the soup dumplings, but I'm told they are a can't-miss item. Don't forget to save room for the dessert cart! New Fortune Dim Sum is located in Chinatown Center on North Lamar and is open Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-3pm.

Kin & Comfort–One of the most unique new Austin restaurants, and it's only minutes from my apartment, score! Nearly hidden in the Hana World Food Court, it's a bit out of the way for most Austinites but definitely worth the trip. Be sure to bring cash, as it's cash-only, but totally worth it. Kin & Comfort is the perfect blend of Thai and Southern comfort food. Menu items are inexpensive, so bring friends and share as many of them as you can! Son-in-Law Deviled Eggs, Home-Fried Chicken Thigh, and Panang Mac and Cheese are the must-tries, but the entire menu is solid. Kin & Comfort is located at the Hana World Market at 1700 West Parmer Lane and is open daily 11am-8pm, closed Tuesdays.