Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Peppermint Bark Cookies n' Cream Puppy Chow

Another great recipe that doubles as a tasty gift is puppy chow! Side note: is "puppy chow" a regional word? I always just called this stuff "muddy buddy" or "sweet chex mix" haha. The first time I saw a blogger post a "puppy chow" recipe I seriously thought they were making their own dog food. Then I saw chocolate as an ingredient and was SUPER confused.

Turns out, puppy chow is a thing. A very, very delicious thing. I wouldn't feed it to your dog, but definitely to your human.

The candy canes are seasonal of course but I'm sure you could make this all year round by using peppermints. Or just making cookies and cream puppy chow! I gave this as gifts to friends in mason jars--I've decided Mason Jars are The Most Useful Thing in the Universe. You really can do so much with them, and they make lovely gifting vehicles.

Merry Christmas Eve to all, and a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, tomorrow!

Peppermint Bark Cookie Puppy Chow

  • 5 cups Chex cereal
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted
  • 6 Oreos, crushed (I used HEB brand peppermint cookie sandwiches, basically peppermint Oreos)
  • 3 candy canes, crushed
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar

In a large bowl, combine Chex and chocolate. Fold the chocolate in gently, using a little more or less melted chocolate until the cereal is well coated and sticky.

Fold in the Oreos and candy canes. Slowly pour in the sugar, mixing constantly, until cereal is well coated and no longer sticky. You may need more or less sugar.

Turn out onto a lined cookie sheet (with a silpat or wax paper) and let dry, 30 minutes. Break apart any large pieces and store in an airtight bag.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Peanut Brittle, the Slacker's (DELICIOUS) Gift

 Merry Eve of Christmas Eve! When this posts, I'll be on my way back from Texas to Massachusetts to spend time with family. It's likely I still have a gift or two to pick up, too. Oy!

If you're like me and wait until the last second to do EVERYTHING... then thank goodness for make-at-home gifts. Like peanut brittle. Or any kind of nut brittle! It's classy, tasty, and just about everyone loves it. Plus, despite it being a bit temperamental, it really is a quick and easy treat to put together.

I didn't have any corn syrup on hand, but I found an awesome recipe for peanut brittle without corn syrup, and I didn't even need to dig out my candy thermometer! Score.

Dipped in bittersweet chocolate or put in a Christmas tin, it makes a good last minute gift for just about anyone.

Peanut Brittle, Sans Corn Syrup
(Recipe from Average Betty)

  • 3 cups peanuts (or any nut you'd like!)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

First, prepare your cookie sheet. I used a cookie sheet covered in tin foil, sprayed liberally with no-stick cooking oil. A silpat would also work.

In a large pot over high heat, melt the sugar into the water, stirring constantly. Once sugar is dissolved, let alone for ten minutes. Stirring occasionally, watch the liquid like a friggin HAWK and as soon as it turns a light amber color, REMOVE FROM HEAT.

Immediately stir in salt, butter, vanilla, and baking soda. Step back! It WILL foam violently. Quickly fold in nuts and turn out onto your cookie sheet with a silicone spatula. Spread evenly and press down with spatula.

Let dry, about 20 minutes, and break apart with mallet or hands. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lazy Sunday Homemade Eggnog

Tomorrow afternoon, Cory and I hop on a plane and head back to Massachusetts to spend Christmas with our family. I'm grateful we get to take the time to go back--we planned our savings accordingly before moving to make sure we could--since you never know what future years will bring.

And, because we are the smartest, most organized of couples, we're totally and completely packed and ready to go!

Actually, that's an utter lie. We have nothing packed. At all. We're just feeling extremely lazy tonight. The upcoming week with no doubt be crazy busy, as we try to do everything and see everyone and attend all friend and family events, so we figured it was best to just do as little as possible tonight.

However, we did clean up the house a bit, to ensure that we'll be coming home to a clean space. That's always nice, after a week away, to not have to worry about tidying up. We'll be coming back on New Year's Eve and spending that holiday with our friends in Austin, so even when we touch down back in Texas we'll still be keeping busy!

I made and photographed a few holiday treats that I'm scheduling to post while I'm away. It's probably too late to be useful for anyone, but if I don't post them now I'll have to wait a whole year ;)

This egg nog is pretty dang good... if you drink it immediately, anyway. After chilling, it got WAY too thick. This means I over-cooked it. I was so worried about making sure the egg was fully cooked, I let it get too thick on the stove. I forgot that it would thicken more as it cools.

I also tried to make a dairy free, natural sugar version and that one tasted FANTASTIC... until I overcooked that one. Overcooked almond milk turns into a clumpy mess. So sad.

Homemade Egg Nog
(Adapted from Doughmesstic)

  • 6 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Bourbon

-In a large pot over medium-low heat, beat together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt. Slowly add the milk, and mix until well combined.

-Turn heat to low, stirring regularly, until liquid has thickened just enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Remove from heat.

-Before serving, add bourbon (or rum!) and mix well. Can be served hot or cold, but I prefer hot!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Cookie & Dessert Roundup!

Our Christmas card, at a local tourist picture spot in Austin. Figured it was perfect--it's even green and red!

Christmas is less than a week away--can you believe it? I sure can't. For one, it's 70 degrees in Austin. Not that I'm complaining--but I keep forgetting it's December and not September! It definitely snuck up on me.

To make up for not having a ton of recipes of my own this season--due in part to being in a borrowed kitchen with a very limited Unemployment Budget--I have created a roundup of some awesome Christmas cookies from some of my favorite blogs :)

Holiday Cookie Recipes
Peppermint Bark Oreos from Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches from Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
No-Spread Sugar Cookies from Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Red Velvet Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies from Yummy Healthy Easy
Soft & Chewy Gingersnaps from Yummy Healthy Easy
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies from Persnickety Plates
White Chocolate Ginger Cookies from Because I Like Chocolate
French Sables Korova from Persnickety Plates
Chocolate Haystacks from Because I Like Chocolate
Chocolate Stuffed Gingerbread Cookies from I Heart Eating
Hot Chocolate Sandwich Cookies from I Heart Eating
Cranberry Bliss Cookies from Rhubarb and Honey
Mini Gingerbread Houses from Cravings of a Lunatic
Black Forest Sandwich Cookies from Cravings of a Lunatic
Florentine Lace Cookies from An Edible Mosaic
Double Chocolate Cookie Peppermint Sandwich from A Healthy Life For Me
Pecan Balls from A Healthy Life For Me
Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies from Because I Like Chocolate
Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies from Karen's Kitchen Stories
Peppermint White Chocolate Cookies from Karen's Kitchen Stories
Turtle Cookies from The Kitchen is My Playground
Molasses Crinkles from The Kitchen is My Playground
Dark Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles from Noble Pig
Italian Cookies from Noble Pig
Elvis Inspired Cookie Cups from Snappy Gourmet
Andes Mint Cookies from The Law Student's Wife
Buttery Toffee Walnut Cookies from Simply Southern Baking
Peanutbutter Chocolate Mounds from Simply Southern Baking
Cookies and Cream Crunch Bites from Simply Southern Baking
Peppermint Bark Spritz Cookies from Bake. Love. Give.
Gingerbread Holiday Circus Cookies from Bake. Love. Give.
Flourless Nutella Marshmallow Cloud Cookie Cups from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Toffee Almond Snowball Cookies from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
White Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies from Tammilee Tips
Apricot Coconut Cookies from Tammilee Tips
Peanutbutter Ritz Cookies from Julie's Eats and Treats
Iced Lemon Sugar Cookies from Yours and Mine Are Ours
Gingersnap Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing from Keep It Sweet Desserts
Scandinavian Spice Cookies from This and That
Candy Cane Meringue Kisses from This and That
Pumpkin Chai Biscotti from This and That
Sugared Chocolate Cookies from In the Kitchen with Jenny
Mexican Wedding Cakes from In the Kitchen with Jenny
Peppermint Sugar Cookies from The Pajama Chef
Cherry Pistachio Citrus Butter Cookies from The Pajama Chef
Chocolate Peppermint Drizzle Cookies from The Chef Next Door
Grandma's Orange Cookies from The Chef Next Door
Almond Joy Cookies from Spatulas on Parade
Crispy Ranger Cookies from Spatulas on Parade
Pizzelle Cookies from Walking on Sunshine
White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies from Wine Lady Cooks
Chocolate Drizzle Cookies from Wine Lady Cooks
No Bake Chocolate Cookies from And I Helped!
Lime Meltaways from And I Helped!

Holiday Dessert Recipes
Chocolate Orange Ricotta Tart from Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Oreo Cookie Truffles from Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Sand Tarts from This and That
Chocolate Cremes with Pomegranit from The Tomato Tart
Vegan Chocolate Tart with Blood Orange Icing from The Tomato Tart
Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies from JewHungry
Cranberry Bliss Bars from Hezzi D's Books and Cooks
Pomegranit White Wine Panna Cotta from Hezzi D's Books and Cooks
No Bake Mint Oreo Cheesecake from Julie's Eats and Treats
Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce from The Law Student's Wife
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Pie Bars from Snappy Gourmet
Candy Cane Cake from Dieters Downfall
White Chocolate Peppermint Mousse from An Edible Mosaic
Eggnog Pudding from An Edible Mosaic
Gingerbread Muffins from An Edible Mosaic
Cranberry Christmas Cupcakes by Kailley's Kitchen


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Broke Gift Giving With Minimal Mess -- Peppermint Bark Oreos

What do you do when you...
1. Love Christmas
2. Love getting gifts for friends and family
3. Are currently unemployed
4. Are two thousand miles away from family and therefore need travel-friendly options
5. Not in your own kitchen to destroy while making edible gifts?

Our first Austin Christmas tree!

Answer: Melt lots of chocolate in the microwave and try to be as careful as possible.

I am a messy, accident-prone cook. And our Austin host (a family member we are staying with until we move into our own apartment in January) is a saint for putting up with me, because I know as clean-freaky as I am trying to be, it just is not in my coding. I discovered this while living at home with my parents: I can go over the kitchen five times with every cleaner I can think of and I will STILL miss a glaringly huge area that I somehow just didn't see. I decided that I would try to keep my mess as contained as possible and create stovetop-only goodies since I've had more than enough kitchen foibles already, using as little kitchen space as possible for this endeavor.

Enter: white chocolate covered Oreos.

Chocolate dipped Oreos are one of my favorite candy-counter goodies, despite the fact that they are SO easy to make at home. Simply melt chocolate, dip Oreos, top with candy. BOOM. Done.

I amped up the Christmasy-factor here by using HEB* brand Christmas Sandwich Cookies--Oreo-knockoffs with a peppermint flavored, red center--and dipping them in Almond Bark white chocolate AND topping them with crushed candy canes. The result is something that tastes amazing, feels fancy, and costs about $5 total for four packs of five cookies.

*HEB is a grocery store out here that I am in LOVE with. The organic and gluten free selection is vast AND affordable, and if you roam around midday on a weekday you can make yourself a lunch out of the free samples. Plus the in-store coupons are incredible. Definitely my favorite supermarket of all time, maybe only second to my favorite local shop back in MA.

December in Austin: 70 degrees and sunny!

Peppermint Bark Oreos

  • 1 Pack Christmas-themed or Peppermint flavored Oreos
  • 2 16oz bags white chocolate chips OR 2 packages white chocolate almond bark
  • 2 candy canes
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (optional)

-Pulverize candy canes in a food processor or use a hammer and a ziplock bag

-Melt white chocolate according to directions (I typically do a minute half power, stir, then 30 second half power increments but this will depend on the brand) gently fold in peppermint extract.

-Dip Oreos and turn until well coated. Place on wax paper in a cookie sheet. Continue for entire pack.

-Before chocolate has set, sprinkle candy cane dust on top of cookies. Place cookie sheet in fridge and let harden for ten minutes.

PS. I also made nut brittle, pistachio bark, puppy chow, and fudge for gifts. Which would you like me to post recipes for?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Purple Sweet Potato Fries with Sriracha Aioli

Still job hunting like a madwoman. Might take a break until after the holidays, just so I don't have the stress of finding a job added to the stress of finding Christmas gifts on the cheap, traveling, and all the other little holiday stressors on TOP of also tracking resumes and applications and handling the endless rejections and whatnot...

Anyone in Austin know of any marketing, PR, or writing gigs pleeeease send them my way?

Anyways. We have more pressing matters to attend to. Like the closing of the Sriracha plant.

Can you believe that they're closing it?? How will we get our deliciously spicy, inexpensive condiment?? Sure, there are impostors out there, but they taste like just that--impostors. Hopefully the company has a backup plan, because there really is no substitute for the real thing.

Except maybe homemade? Ohh... now, there's a though.

Anyway, the idea for these fries was born when I found a purple sweet potato at the local Sprouts--we never had Sprouts in MA, it's a LOVELY find!--and decided they'd make the most beautiful fries. And since ketchup and sweet potato fries don't really mesh, in my opinion, I decided a homemade aioli with a splash of sriracha was just the thing.

Please note: baked sweet potato fries will never be crispy. But, these suckers come pretty darn close. It's a long process, and I won't judge you if you end up frying them in the end anyway, but it's worth a try!

Purple Sweet Potato Fries
  • 1 large purple sweet potato (orange works as well) cut into strips
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs corn starch
  • sea salt and pepper

-Soak sweet potato strips in water (covering by one inch) for about twenty minutes.

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Drain water and blot strips dry with a paper towel. In a bowl, toss sweet potato strips with the olive oil,  corn starch, salt, and pepper.

-For best results, place on a wire rack inside a cookie sheet. A cookie sheet may also be used, sans-rack, but best, crispy results are on a wire rack.

-Bake for 40 minutes, turning once. After 40 minutes, turn heat up to 400 and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Sriracha Aioli
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil*
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbs Sriracha sauce

-In a mini food processor** blend together egg yolk, vinegar, cayenne, and garlic. Slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil until emulsified--the mixture will be thick and begin pulling away from the edges of the food processor bowl.

-Add olive oil until the mixture is the thickness and consistency of mayonnaise. Add the lime juice and sriracha until desired flavor is reached.

*Grapeseed oil is expensive, but it gives the aioli a much smoother, creamier texture. Feel free to use olive oil (1/4 cup, light is best) if you are unable to get grapeseed.
**If you do not have a mini food processor, you can use a full sized one but you will have to triple the recipe in order for it to reach the blades and be able to be mixed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Quarter Life Christmas List -- For the 20-Somethings in Your Life

Picture Credit

Last year I did a gift guide for 20-Somethings on my other blog. That blog has since died, but I figured it would be a good idea to revive the idea here! I might have missed the ball again there, as I'm sure most people have already completed their holiday shopping, but if you're like me and still plugging away, I hope this list helps!

Clearly since my "expertise" is those in the Millennial age category, like myself, it's a 20-Something Gift Guide. However, I'm sure they could apply to just about any age!

For the Booze-Enthusiast Friend

Mid to Top Shelf Liquor Cocktail Kit--I love a good cocktail. However, I rarely have the budget to shell out for the nicer liquors. Though I refuse to succumb to Popov since my college days (although, I'll admit I've used it for party punch in a pinch), I'm still buying the cheapest stuff I can find on the lower (just not the very bottom!) shelves. Give your 20-Something friend the ingredients to make your favorite cocktail, using booze that they might not buy for themselves (use nips if you, yourself are also on a budget). You can even go the extra mile and include the proper glassware and a cocktail shaker!

For a Long Distance Love

Long Distance Relationship Necklace--I actually purchased these when I moved to Austin, I gave one to my mom, one to Cory's mom, and kept one for myself. You can choose where the hearts go, and the artist connects them by a dotted line. It's a sweet, inexpensive reminder that you're always thinking of them. And if a necklace isn't their style, there are tons of etsy shops that do keychains, mugs, wall hangings, etc!

For the Cat Lover

Catcam--If Finn was an outdoors kitty, I would TOTALLY get one of these! It's a tiny camera that you attach to your cat's collar. It takes pictures every few seconds. When you let kitty back inside after a day of adventures, you can upload the pictures to your computer. I think it's such a cute idea and I'd love to get one for my mom and stepdad's outside kitty!

For Any 20-Something With a Car

Gift Cards for Car Stuff--On my List of Things I Don't Pay For When I Don't Have Money: oil changes, tuneups, new tires, car washes. All pretty necessary things, right? But if it comes down to groceries or oil change, you know which one is going to win out. Give them a gift card for their local mechanic/auto-body shop to ensure they don't end up on the side of the road for putting off repairs for as long as they did. Or, if your 20-something is a city-dweller, the gift of a public transportation card would also work.

For Your Friend Who "Can't Cook"

Slow Cooker and Cook Book--ANYONE can cook. Especially if you have a slow cooker! If your friendly neighborhood 20-something does not have a crock pot, rest assured that this is probably the BEST gift you could possibly give them. Crock pots were made for those of us with busy schedules and tight budgets, and are super simple to use. Prep your ingredients the night before and throw in the pot insert, put in the fridge, and in the morning simply put the insert in the crock pot, set to low, and go about your day (work, school, whathaveyou) and when you return at night--viola! DINNER! Add in this awesome book by Judith Fertig, Slow Cooker Comfort Food, and you've probably given them the most useful gift of the season.

For the "Foodie"

Subscription to Lucky Peach Magazine--Hello? Friends? Family? Santa? This is SO on my list. This has got to be my favorite food publication out there right now. It's funky and fun and covers everything from new restaurants, personal essays (centered around food, of course), fiction, and so much drool-worthy photography and adorable illustrations. I pick up a copy whenever I'm on a long trip and devour it on the plane/train/whathaveyou. It's a gorgeous publication and such a fun read. Buying it by issue (as I tend to do) can get pricey, but you save a good amount buying the full year. Gift it to your favorite foodie 20-something and be their culinary hero for a year.

For the "Foodie" Who Also Loves to Cook

Boyajian Flavored Oils--If you have a friend who loves to cook or bake, Boyajian has you covered. All my Boyajian oils have been gifted to me, since I typically buy the "imitation flavorings" to save money. Now, I'm not sure I could go back. These oils infuse a rich flavor to whatever they're added to, whether you're baking or cooking. There are just SO many choices! My favorites I have are my Jalapeno oil (used to make hummus or to add zing to a stir fry) or my Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar (great for salad dressing or in a sauce). I also have a set of citrus oils that I can't wait to use in baked goods. They come in tiny sample packs or full bottles. 

For the Instagram Addict

iPhone Lens Kit--If there's one thing 20-somethings love, it's Instagramming pictures of... well, everything. Amp up your 20-something's Instagram routine with this awesome iPhone lens kit. Extra points if your friend or family member is a budding photographer. As you know, I'm a foodie and blogger. However, lugging my DSLR is sometimes not an option. But I always have my iPhone on me! A few tiny lenses thrown in my bag, and I am ready for an impromptu photo shoot if I find myself with a documentable-worthy meal but no camera.

For the Glamourous Gal (or fella?) on a Budget

Makeup Subscription Box--For $10 to $30 a month you can sign up your favorite 20-something to get the gift of makeup for 1, 3, 6, or 12 months. I use Ipsy, and it's always a great haul. Instead of shelling out $20 for a shade of lipstick I'm not sure I'll even like (and $20 is a LOT when you're on a strict budget!), I can pay $10 to try 4-5 different large samples to full sized products each month. Ipsy also has a history of giving more full size products than the others. I like that Ipsy's full size products are typically inexpensive; I can replace them without breaking the bank. Birchbox is another subscription box I've used, and while the products themselves are truly luxury brands, the samples were always small and the full size were a bit pricey. Birchbox does have a male option, which is cool. If you're interested, please use my referral link for Ipsy! You can find more makeup subscription box reviews at Glamorable, one of my favorite beauty blogs who subscribes to nearly all of them!

For Your Friend Who Just Moved to a New City

Groupon Giftcards--I honestly wish I'd had the time and budget to do all my shopping on Groupon this year. Their gift section is out of this world and there are SO many things I could use on there, having just moved across the country! From apartment decor to discounts on restaurants and fun activities (SKYDIVING, YES PLEASE!!) Groupon just seems like the perfect way to aid in settling into a new city. I know once Cory and I move into our new apartment I'll be buying some kitchen and bedroom necessities on here--the price and quality just can't be beat. If you're new to Groupon, please use my referral link!

For Any 20-Something

From Pinterest

A Gift Bag of "The Essentials"--Gift bags are always a lovely holiday gift, especially when you pick out the contents yourself! I think a gift box or bag made up of the essentials would be lovely. For example, I'm currently using a razor from a 99 cent pack because my usual Venus refills are way out of my unemployed budget right now. Also I am holding out on buying new socks and underwear, because the ones I have are working okay, even though I'd love to replace them. Think about little luxuries like these, that your friend or family member needs but might not be buying for herself. Maybe you're not close enough to be buying underpants, but some festive socks, a few choice beauty supplies (nice shampoo, razors, nice smelling soaps), festive socks, hair ties, bobby pins, etc. could go to good use here! Pop in a $10 Target gift card for anything you might have missed.

For Your Friend Who Just Entered Broke Adulthood
Photo Credit
Visa Gift Cards--These are always a treasure to be found in any stocking. They are accepted everywhere that Visa is accepted; this means that your 20-something friend or family member can use them for groceries, a new interview outfit, an online bill, a nice dinner with a friend, or even a mini shopping spree. It somehow feels a lot more genuine than giving money, and comes in a variety of cute designs. You can find them at most any grocery store or department store.

Happy Holidays from my little Santa Paws!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Photography Bitching and Pumpkin Sage Soup

 So, I finally made some recipes and took some pictures. Then, I realized I still didn't like the pictures, even after editing. However, to prove to my remaining readers that I am not 100% just restaurant reviews, I figured these were good enough.

Actually, they're probably better than good enough. However, before taking my mini-hiatus, I was getting a LOT better at food photography! AND styling. Really, look back to my photos from this summer, they were getting SO good! And now... so not-so-good. Somehow, my standards for my own photos are now way too high--anything less than what I was doing, I feel embarrassed to post. And even though these are perfectly acceptable, they aren't good enough in my eyes.

I was getting on FOOD GAWKER FOR ONCE. Sigh.

However, I am kind of forgetting that I left ALL my blog props in Massachusetts (two boxes I'd packed up of plates, glasses, napkins, table cloths, random silverware), I gave up my softbox for sake of room, AND my two little fluorescent lights--all because I couldn't take them with me and needed to sell as much stuff as possible. And now, being unemployed, I can't buy back all the photography stuff I left behind.

When you're following your dreams of moving across the country to a warmer climate, you gotta make some sacrifices I guess. And Austin is pretty great! We're experiencing some pretty crazy cold weather, which I guess isn't too common here, and in two weeks I get to visit home again. I'm job hunting like a madwoman, doing some freelance work, and re-tooling my book proposal. And, Cory and I are moving into our own apartment in January. Keeping busy!

So, sub-par photos will have to do for now. However, the recipe itself is pretty bomb, so there's that :) It was inspired by a favorite bakery back home (Second Street Bakery, if you're ever in the area) and I've made it before but never blogged before. I know it's late in the season for pumpkin, but I figured it's good enough to share even if it's off season. Also I'd gotten the pumpkin way before Thanksgiving and needed to use it before it went bad. Plus, as I mentioned, it's CHILLY in Texas and soup was necessary.

Please note that the rosemary is NOT in the recipe. It was a last minute addition because Rosemary grows like MADNESS over here--HUGE bushes of it. I've never seen so much rosemary. It's pretty cool.

...lots of caps in this post. Hm.

Pumpkin Sage Bisque

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin (~2 lbs) peeled, seeded, and cooked through
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3 leaves sage, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 can coconut cream
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs olive oil + 1 tbs butter
-In a large saucepan, melt the butter and warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic and cook until onions are translucent.

-Add the pumpkin, sage, nutmeg, and chicken broth (you may need more or less, enough to cover the veggies by a little less than an inch) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes.

-When carrots are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor. Add sriracha, salt, and pepper to taste.

-Add coconut cream, slowly, mixing constantly, until soup is at desired creaminess. Top with a dollop of condensed coconut cream or sour cream.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Austin Eats -- Top Golf, Austin

In my experience, an entertainment venue tends to put the focus on entertainment. They may offer food and drinks, but since those are only secondary or tertiary aspects of the overall establishment, they can suffer. However, this is far from the case at Top Golf Austin.

My friend Lauren was looking for somewhere to celebrate her recent birthday. I was a bit surprised when she suggested Top Golf. I am not a golfer, so I figured I'd just wait on the sidelines and eat and drink while everyone else hit golf balls. It's actually a lot more fun than that--someone described it as "golf darts" and I think that's the best explanation. You hit a golf ball towards a target, and somehow the computer records it and gives you points. I ended up sitting out, but thankfully my friends let me take a few "guest shots" so I could have a go at trying to hit a target.

When we arrived I was STARVING, so I ordered the shrimp and grits and some sweet potato fries. I was trying to stay gluten-free because I knew that Thanksgiving would have all sorts of cheats and I didn't want to start my digestive stress a day early. Anyway! As you know, I'm not a Southerner. I had NO IDEA what to expect with shrimp and grits and I was pleasantly surprised! The shrimp was juicy and flavorful, the grits creamy and delicious, with some extra spices (and maybe pesto?) dotted on top. I ate it all in about ten seconds because 1. I was starving, and 2. It was THAT GOOD. I ended up not having a ton of room for the fries, so I shared them around. They were crispy and delicious and everything you could want from a sweet potato fry. And the chipotle aioli for dipping was incredible.

Cory got a burger, as he usually does, and was raving about it. My dear fiancee is kind of a burger snob (omg his comment of "meh" on my beloved In-n-Out was shocking) and he fully approves of this burger. It was juicy, had lovely thick slices of bacon and melty cheese, and the accompanying tots were crispy perfection.

Other dishes that got rave reviews from my friends that ordered them: The steak quesadillas (these looked INCREDIBLE and I will totally get them next time I visit), and the Banh Mi flatbread (I love Ban Mis, but with my avoiding gluten that day I did not try it). Overall, everyone was more than satisifed with their food and very surprised that a place that has a main draw of something other than food had such awesome food.

The drinks, while a little pricier than I've seen in town, were also great. I got the November cranberry special, and also shared one of their signature fishbowls with Lauren. The fishbowls come in a souvenir cup, shaped like a golf bag. It was girly and sickly sweet, everything you'd expect from a good fishbowl!

This was such a fun night and now it's definitely on my list of places to show my family when they visit, since my stepdad is a great golfer. I also could be persuaded to go just for the food sometime!

Top Golf is located at 2700 Esperanza Crossing, Austin, TX 78758