Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Non-Memories of Arichokes

 A few weeks ago, I gleefully posted that not only had I had artichokes for the first time, but I made them myself. I declared that I'd done it! I'd made nature's nachos! I was pretty freaking proud of myself.

My mom saw the post and goes "Oh! You used to love artichokes when you were little!" I was baffled. I had no memory of eating this majestic appetizer in any form other than pureed into a dip of some sort at a cheesy chain restaurant.


Somehow, the memory of delicious, delicious artichokes had slipped my mind. But clearly my subconscious knew what was up, because since the initial artichoke cooking I've made them at least five times.

Have you ever prepared artichokes? It looks daunting, but it really isn't. The most important thing is to trim off the sharp barbs (use kitchen scissors). The second most important thing is to cook them until the leaves easily pull off. The third most important thing is to scrape out the inside of the heart, because if you forget then you get a mouthful of softer, yet still pretty painful barbs.

It's a learning process for sure. But it's totally do-able, trust me. They make a wonderful app or side dish, and feel super fancy.



Lemon Butter Artichokes

  • 4 artichoke heads, barbs trimmed off
  • 4 cloves garlic--3 sliced thin, 1 diced fine
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • optional: 1 tbsp cajun seasoning
  • Enough water to fill 2 inches of a saucepan with cover


Place the garlic slices in between the leaves of the artichokes.

In a saucepan large enough for the four artichokes, pour in water to about 2 inches. Use a steamer basket or place the artichokes in the water, and let simmer for 20 minutes or until you can easily pull a leaf off.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Mix in the diced garlic and lemon juice, and seasoning if using. Set aside.

To eat: gently pull off the petals and dip large end in butter. Use your teeth to scrape off the soft fleshy part of the artichoke, discard the tough end leaf. When you get to the center, use a spoon to carefully remove the fuzzy top layer without scraping away the heart (the soft middle). You can do this end part in the beginning if you're serving to friends, but I like to do it myself because the soft heart is like the prize at the end.

Monday, July 13, 2015

HEB #PrimoPicks Taco Revolution - Chicken Tostadas #sponsored

Disclaimer: I received promotional products and gift card to facilitate this recipe.

Seriously, is there anything better than a taco? Or nachos? Or, really anything Tex-Mex and delicious?

Ever since I first stepped foot into that popular fast food taco joint, I was hooked. I was about 10, and was obsessed with chicken rollups. As the years went on I graduated to better locations, better tacos, and in recent years have mostly made them myself. Is it any surprise I found myself in Texas, land of the best tacos in the country?


And with HEB, making tasty tacos is simple. This month's Primo Picks were great, and I knew immediately that I'd be making a tostada (much like a taco, but flat) and topping it with all sorts of goodness. I love that HEB's store brands are so well made and tasty!


Pulled Chicken Tostada

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp Adams Reserve Spicy Aloha Rub
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup HEB's That Red Sauce
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup + 1 dollop sour cream
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • vegetable oil (enough to fill a small skillet to 1/2 inch)
  • optional: guacamole


-Pat the chicken dry and rub with the Aloha rub. Bake for 20 minutes on 450 degrees F, turning once throughout. Set aside and let cool until it is cool enough to handle.

-In a small bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of sour cream with the taco seasoning.

-Heat the oil over medium-high, until a crumb makes the oil sizzle. Carefully drop the tortillas in, one at a time, until crispy. Dab dry with paper towels.

-When chicken can be handled, use two forks to shred the meat. Toss with That Red Sauce.

-Assemble the toastada: spread 1/4 cup of the refried beans over one tortilla, and top with some of the sour cream mixture. Place a second tortilla on top, and top with half of the chicken, cheese, salsa, and a dollop of sour cream. Repeat with the other two tortillas and remaining ingredients.

Note: these measurements aren't exact, feel free to add more or less fillings if you desire!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Peach Old Fashioned with Four Roses Bourbon #sponsored

Disclaimer: I received a promotional product in order to create this recipe. All opinions are my own.

Guys, have I told you about my bourbon obsession? Ever since stepping foot in the South, I've had a hankering for bourbon that just cannot be quelled. Strange, considering my past liking of girly, fruity drinks.


Four Roses is one of my new favorites--and it's not just because I got a complimentary bottle to make a recipe with!--and it hits all the notes of what's great about bourbon, with some fruit flavors as well. It's smooth, mellow, and perfect to sip.

Turns out, there's a perfect drink that marries my love of bourbon with my taste for fruit: an old fashioned! It's becoming my new favorite drink to order when I'm out, and I feel like I've perfected the at-home version as well. I added a bit more southern flair by adding peaches and a splash of Texas Honey lemonade. Enjoy on the porch while you watch the sunset!


Texas Peach Old Fashioned
  • 1 oz Four Roses Bourbon
  • 1 oz Texas Honey lemonade (basic lemonade recipe with honey swapped for sugar)
  • 1 or 2 splashes Grapefruit bitters
  • 1 cherry
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 slice ripe peach, no peel

-In a cocktail glass, muddle together the cherry, orange zest, and peach together. Shake in the bitters.

-Fill glass with ice, and pour bourbon and lemonade over.

-Sip slowly, and enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2015

#LoveWins



For all my friends and loved ones, who waited so long and went through so much to make this happen... this rainbow cupcake is for you.

#LoveWins

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lemongrass Ginger Ice Cream with Spicy Tapioca Topping #FFFMysteryBox


The concept is simple: A bunch of bloggers, lovingly called the Fuckin' Fab Food Bloggers, decided to emulate a popular television show where contestants are given random ingredients and told to make a dish from them. You know the one.



However, our game was slightly altered--in that we're five food bloggers from five different parts of the country. So ingredients had to be relatively non-perishable so that they could travel long distances. Plus they all had to go into one dish.

I can't figure out how to get this to work but, if you want to see me unboxing my ingredients for the first time, head on over to my Facebook Page!

My ingredients were from the lovely Sophia of NY Foodgasm: fresh lemongrass, candied ginger, and tapioca pearls. My first thought was ice cream, obviously. Lemongrass can be sweet or savory, and with the ginger it's a perfect flavor combination. The pearls had me stumped, but I made a spicy raspberry chili reduction out of some soda I had and they made an awesome topping that fit the flavor profile perfectly. All in all, I came out with a unique dessert and my first ice cream recipe of the season!

And I sent some local Texas favorites of mine to Ashley of Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen--be sure to check it out!


Before we get to my recipe, here are the other FFFMysteryBox recipes:



Lemongrass Ginger Ice Cream with Spicy Tapioca Topping

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup candied ginger, cut into slices
  • 1 cup tapioca pearls
  • 1 cup raspberry chili soda (or, raspberry soda with 1 sliced jalapeno)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar


-In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the whole milk and the lemongrass. Let simmer for 15 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over. Add the sugar and heavy cream and stir until just combined.

-Let chill overnight.

-Slowly pour the mixture through a mesh sieve and into your prepared ice cream maker (frozen bowl set onto machine). Let process until the ice cream is frozen to a soft consistency, then add the candied ginger. Pour into a container and let freeze.

-While ice cream is processing, prepare the tapioca pearls according to the package--1 cup tapioca to 5 cups boiling water, simmer for 8 minutes, take off heat and leave in water for another 5 minutes, drain and put pearls into ice water.

-Reduce the soda to 1/4th cup. Mix in agave and let chill. Toss with tapioca pearls, let chill at least 20 minutes.

-Serve ice cream with the tapioca pearl topping.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Frozen Coffee Pudding Pops - Lavazza Gran Selezione #sponsored


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

It's summer! Did you hear? Though Austin stays a bit warmer throughout the year than my former home in New England, I still get excited to break out the sun dresses and summer prints, drinks, and of course FOOD!


When the summer hits I also tend to switch over my coffee habit to a more heat-appropriate beverage--iced coffee! Which means I also tend to go darker. Ice can water down a weaker coffee. Thankfully, Lavazza has us covered with its  Gran Selezione blend.

Gran Selezione is exclusively from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee farms. It is a premium Arabica blend with intense flavor, chocolate undertones and a full-bodied taste. 100% fine Arabica, 100% sustainably grown.


You know what else is excellent in the summertime? Ice pops. Pudding pops in particular! I thought the creamy texture of a pudding pop would go perfectly with the rich flavor of Gran Selezione--and I was right!


Lavazza Coffee Pudding Pops

  • 1 package instant French vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup brewed Lavazza Gran Selezione, brewed strong and brought to room temperature


-In a stand mixer, whip together the instant pudding, milk, and cream until thick. Slowly add the coffee and mix until well blended.

-Pour into pop molds and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. When ready to eat, place pop mold under running faucet and gently pull pop out.

Note: This makes way more than my pop molds could hold. Unless you have 2-3 sets of molds, use an ice cube tray to freeze the rest. Blend with chilled coffee for a sweet blended coffee drink or use in place of ice cubes in your iced coffee.

Pssst! Check out all the cool stuff over at Lavazza's online store! Not only can you snag some amazing coffee, but you can get some sweet coffee accessories as well!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - June 2015

*Disclosure: Items I received for free or a discount are marked with an asterisk. I stand by all products I mention on my blog, and would never mislead my readers just for free product or compensation! Please note that referral links may be used in product descriptions.

Hey all! I've been toying with the idea of having a regular round up of things I love, what do you think? Still trying to decide on a name... As I get more opportunities to try food-and-lifestyle-related things, I need a way to tell y'all which ones I actually recommend! 


Drink It Up - Libations of the Month


Beso Del Sol Sangria* - I love Sangria. It's the ultimate party drink. Quick, affordable, delicious. I typically make a big batch and put it in a punch bowl whenever friends are over. Beso Del Sol makes the ease of sangria truly effortless by putting it in a box! Either jazz it up with your favorite sangria accoutréments (sliced fruit, brandy, soda), or simply drink chilled or over ice. I am seriously loving this stuff and am going to keep this pretty box in my fridge all summer long. I also think it'd make a great granita!--recipe coming soon ;)

Image via http://www.rocksmixers.com/

Rocks Premium Mixers - I tasted a sample of this amazing mixer by Rocks Premium Mixers at Spec's during their food festival and ended up snagging a bottle. It was under $10, low calorie, and absolutely delicious. It seriously tastes like any drink you'd find on a tropical beach! There's no expiration date on the bottle, so I pour myself a glass over my favorite rum or vodka when I want a fruity, tropical tasting drink to wind down after a long day. Preferably near the pool. 

Austin Stuff - Where I Eat and Play


Vox Table - Whenever the fiancé and I put aside the funds for a date night, it typically goes like this: I sift through my food blogger channels and write down all the new restaurants I want to try, or old restaurants I still haven't been to, and send the list to the picky eater love of my life to sift through. I was surprised that he chose somewhere as adventurous as Vox Table. It's a small plate place with French and Italian influence. The plates come one by one, with space in between to talk. We enjoyed some seriously killer cocktails (a whole menu dedicated to my personal favorite--an old fashioned!) and nearly licked every plate clean. The potato churros were the most memorable side dish, while the octopus and short rib were stand out mains. The chocolate cherry dessert was incredible as well. We're definitely going to be back!

Coldtowne Theater - As some of you may know, I've been taking classes at Coldtowne since about October. I gifted myself Level 1 classes as a birthday gift, not knowing if I'd even like improv, and have been hooked ever since. It's not the scripted theater I'm used to--I've been in plays, mostly musicals since about 6 years old up until moving to Austin--but it's wonderful in its own right. I'm currently in Level 4, and performing Wednesdays with my troupe Darth Brooks at 10pm. Whether you're looking to take a class for whatever reason--meeting new people, learning to flex creative muscles, or a long-love of performing--or see incredible comedy (shows 7 nights a week!) it's definitely worth checking out!

Techy Stuff I Guess?


Grubhub - I loved Postmates... until I switched jobs. Suddenly, I'm out of area of both of my go-to delivery apps. One's fee is way too high, and the other won't even deliver. On a whim, I checked out my old faithful delivery service from college in Boston, Grubhub, and what do you know? It's available in Austin, too! And it delivers for a typical fee to both my home and work. Score! Plus their friend referral is pretty great. Check it out, they probably deliver in a city near you! If you're interested in joining, email me your email address and I'll send you a link for $7 off!

Buzzfeed - I made a community list! Check it out! Level Up Your Day Drinking Game With These Classy Cocktails The more likes/shares/interactions it gets, the more Buzzfeed will love it ;)


I Feel Pretty - Beauty and Lifestyle Picks


Ipsy - Who doesn't love discovering new beauty products? And getting fun packages in the mail? I know I've mentioned them before, but I've since tried other subscription services and this is the only one that's stuck. For $10 a month you get 4-6 large sample to full size products. It's great! I've found some new favorites during the time I've been with the service, stuff I probably never would have tried otherwise. Their beauty game has been on point lately, and I've been loving everything. If you're interested, please use my referral link!


It's a 10 - Have you seen my hair? It's pretty insane. Huge, chunky curls with a lovely halo of frizz. I've been straightening my hair regularly since about 14, but lately I've been trying to leave it natural to reduce damage. It is HARD to find a solid hair product that keeps my curls soft (not crunchy!) while still reducing frizz. This product is amazing. Yes, it's pricey, but by using CVS's regular coupons and Walgreens' rewards, I can get the cost down a bit. Plus you can find them occasionally in Marshall's or Nordstrom Rack. If you have frizzy, over-processed, or damaged hair, it's truly a godsend. I spray liberally all over my hair after the shower, put a bit of serum on the ends, then use a curl creme and I'm good to go. Soft, bouncy wavy curls. This is down from the 5+ products I was using before!


Current Events - When My "Bleeding Heart" Needs to Speak


Jon Stewart - I never know if I should mention anything political here--after all, it's a food blog, and nobody is coming here to start a debate. If anything, it should be a place to enjoy the more positive things in life--like food. However, it's getting harder and harder to ignore these tragic events, and I feel like staying silent when I have even a tiny platform here is almost as bad as not being supportive at all. I've had a lot of trouble knowing exactly what to say in response to the tragedy in Charleston... and even beforehand, with the glaring inequalities so many of our citizens are facing. As someone whose race has never played a part in anything from my daily life to personal achievements to even just simply being able to not be terrified at a traffic stop... it's hard to know what to say to friends who are directly affected by these events. I'm not sure if there's anything I can say here that John Stewart doesn't say better in his opening monologue. To say it's worth a listen is an understatement. No matter what side of the fence you fall on politically, you need to hear this.