Friday, February 21, 2014

Guest Post on Stupid Easy Paleo!

I've been dying to guest post at Stupid Easy Paleo for YEARS... not only because it's a great resource for gluten free, dairy free recipes--since paleo is essentially GF DF with low carbs and low sugar--but because Steph was actually my science teacher in high school! She substituted when my middle school science teacher was on maternity leave, and then was my biology teacher a few years later. I loved her class, even though I never was very good at science.

This recipe is tasty and tummy-friendly, and I edited it all myself to be paleo compliant. Pretty proud of it, and really excited to be featured on Stupid Easy Paleo, check it out!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Austin Lovin' -- Pineapple Margaritas

After an overly chilly winter--for Austin, anyway--the sun is finally back. We've settled into our new apartment, our new dog, and I've settled into my new job. Life is good, and even though money is (and probably always will be) tighter than I'd like, it's hard to be unhappy when the sun is shining.

Seriously, stepping outside without a jacket and into the sunshine bumps my mood up about five notches no matter what the circumstance.

Everyone has warned me that summer is awful here, but I can't believe it. And I'd rather deal with sweaty, humid, 100-degree weather than negative degree, piles of snow weather that New England is struggling through right now.
Through my Valentine's Day flowers

Margaritas are huge here. Happy hour staples, and with all the Mexican cuisine--delicious, DELICIOUS Mexican cuisine, I need to go to Taco Bell sometimes just for the nostalgia of what a crappy taco tastes like because it's all I used to know--Margaritas are everywhere. These days, I tend to judge restaurants based on their queso and margarita offerings without even realizing it.

Also, this is my favorite random piece of apartment furniture. I splurged with an Amazon giftcard and couldn't be happier. It looks so damn CLASSY, and frees up my cabinets for my cookbooks and assorted kitchen odds and ends. Plus, all our booze is on display for all to see :) Liquor on top, wine and mixers on the bottom.

I had a pineapple that was juuust beginning to get moldy on the bottom, so I decided the time was right to dice it up and pour booze on it. I don't have much of a blog prop collection yet (had to get rid of what I had before the move) so my pictures are a little sparse. I didn't even have two matching glasses that were suitable for photographing! Working on it though, and combing through Goodwill weekly. Finally picked up some plain white plates for blog-food purposes, though I wanted so badly to also pick up some mason jar mugs... oh well, next time.

Pineapple Margarita
About 4 servings worth
(Basic Margarita recipe from Real Simple)

  • 3/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple (I chopped up pineapple, muddled in a glass, then poured through a sieve)
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec
  • 3 tbs agave nectar
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • salt or sugar for rim
  • Strawberry for garnish

-Line rims of four glasses with sugar (I used the strawberry garnish and rubbed it on the rim so it would stick) and set aside, garnish with strawberries.

-Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small pitcher. Chill, or serve on the rocks. Blend with ice for a frozen margarita.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Austin Eats: The Best Fried Chicken in Austin -- Ms P's Electric Cock

I have no idea why, but ever since November, I've been craving one thing and one thing only: fried chicken. The craving is so intense that sometimes I'll get a case of the grumps that refuses to go away until the need is satisfied. And, up until I discovered this amazing little gem, the need was rarely fulfilled.

Side note: no, I am not pregnant. I checked. A few times. Don't intend to have babies and pregnancy cravings for a while. I've just randomly developed a natural love of fried chicken, who knows why.

People had directed me towards one fried chicken place or another, but to me, they always fell flat. Often, the chicken was dry or the breading was bland. Nobody had that perfect combo of slightly-spicy, crisp-on-the-outside-juicy-on-the-inside chicken I was searching for.

Another side note: while it's possible I'm probably gluten intolerant, I risk it all for fried chicken. I down a few glasses of water after and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, sometimes I am curled up in a ball for the rest of the day battling the bloat and pain that comes from over-doing it. It definitely doesn't affect me as much as a slice of cake or huge sandwich would, though, so still I indulge.

Anyway. After taking silly pictures in front of this awesome sign every time I passed, I finally decided to see what Ms P's had to offer.

And I was found kicking myself hard in the ass because OMG THIS IS AMAZING CHICKEN.

The breading is perfectly seasoned. I've taken to rubbing the complimentary pickled jalapeno all over the chicken before eating, but even before that this is good stuff. The chicken is also made fresh (so expect at least 20 minutes of wait time, if there's no line) so it's perfect every time.

The sides are also excellent and a perfect companion to the chicken. The fries don't travel well, but are so flavorful and delicious you'll probably eat them en route to your final destination (if you don't hang out at the provided seating) anyway. I know I did. The seasoning on THESE is perfect too! Some sort of herb and cheese situation that I'd never seen before. The cole slaw is also perfectly crisp, sweet, and savory and I just love it all.

I took a bite of a roll and while these are good as well, they aren't good for my tummy, so they often just get thrown at my fiance.

I also like the amount of serving options. Three pieces is perfect for me, plus sides, and I'm happy that I can go bigger or smaller depending on my appetite. The price is a little more than you'd expect from a food trailer, but the flavor and quality is way more than you'd expect also. Local, free range chickens. Once the street corn is in season I cannot wait to try that as well because I know Ms P is going to rock it.

If you, like me, are on the hunt for perfect fried chicken in Austin, look no further than this adorable little food trailer on South Congress street. I hear they also have a mini Ms P's somewhere further downtown.

Please check them out at 1101 South Congress Avenue, Austin TX. Website/Facebook

Valentine's Day Dinner

Some pictures from the meal I prepared for the love of my life, for Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Treats... for your Pooch.

I've always loved Valentine's Day. It's forever been a holiday I put WAY too much effort into, but one I've always enjoyed nonetheless. Perhaps one time in Middle School I had a bad year, where I painstakingly made handmade valentines and treat bags for everyone in the class and got a grand total of ONE in return, but that was simply a reinforcement that, with any holiday, it's not about what you get, it's about what you give. And I know I had some desperately single years, where I had to fight off the grumps, but then my mom would call or show up with a little box of goodies or my Nana would send a card with her signature almost calligraphy-like penmanship and the angry feelings would subside as I realized this day, while commercialized to high-heavens (but honestly, what holiday ISN'T?), has a good core. And an important one.

So I roll my eyes at the vitriol this holiday tends to rile up, the worst of which seems to be displayed on Facebook for the world to see. Mostly from people without a significant other to love, who are feeling especially lonely on this day. I think people forget that it's not JUST about loving a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife today. Valentine's Day is simply a day of love.

That isn't to say that I'm not totally grateful for this wonderful man in my life. Years of searching and feeling "not quite right" about so many past boyfriends, and this guy turns up and makes me realize why it never really worked with anyone else. He treats me better than any guy ever has, and every day is so full of love. I cannot wait to marry him, and I'm already loving the life we've made for ourselves as a couple :) /mushyrant.

And, the day before the REAL holiday--HALF OFF CHOCOLATE DAY OMG SO EXCITED--but aaanyway...

So, take today for what it is, and what it could be: yet another holiday to let those you love know that you appreciate them. And ESPECIALLY maybe that furry friend that loves you no matter what, because maybe they deserve it most.

So for a Valentine's Day treat, I decided to focus on the amazing Lily, who has already brought so much joy into our lives, and so much love, even though we've had her with us just less than a month.

It's so amazing that her life was SO hard--she was found as a stray, under a building, the coldest month of the year during a Texas cold snap, with her seven puppies... only two of which lived to get adopted themselves--but that she is SO loving and so happy to just be near us. She cuddles up to us and runs circles around the room when one of us comes home. We truly are smitten.

Seriously, who couldn't love that face?

I am in such puppy love with her, it's insane. If this is how obsessed with our dog we are, then I can only imagine how smothered our future kids are going to be.

Doggy treats are a great way to let your dog know you love her. Lily LOVES these, and it makes me happy to know I can use my cooking skills to her benefit as well. Plus they're probably way healthier than the ones you find in the store--and tastier!

Not gonna lie, the house smelled SO GOOD while they were cooking that I had to try one myself. They weren't bad! Kind of like weird nutty biscuits.

Bacon Peanutbutter Cheddar Dog Biscuits
(Adapted slightly from Sally's Baking Addiction)

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used what I had on hand, but organic/natural is best!)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup oats (I used quick oats)
  • 3 tbs shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 strips bacon, chopped small

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large bowl, mix all wet ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, oats, cheese, and bacon. Slowly add the wet to the dry. *A stand mixer is best for this, on the paddle attachment, because it will turn into a hard, doughy ball that will be VERY hard to mix.

Place dough ball between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll to a 1/4" thickness with a rolling pin. Put dough into refrigerator and let chill for ten minutes.

Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter (I used hearts because I had no bone-shapes) and place on a baking sheet at least an inch apart. Bake for 20 minutes, then gently flip cookies and bake for another 10 minutes.

Let cool, and store in an airtight jar or bag in the fridge for about a week.

Psssst... have you checked out my FIRST EVER YOUTUBE VIDEO? Please do! Comment, like, share! Just watch it at home because I DO say "penis" a whole lot, heh. I want to start making these on the regular (though they probably won't always have such interesting subject matter) and I'd love to have a few followers in the meantime :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Novelty Chocolate Dong into Valentine's Day Brownies (from QLCC)

NSFW due to language... I say "large chocolate penis" a whole bunch.

Figured out how to post it! Woo! Check it out, share, comment, whatever you wish :)

Happy Valentine's Day! In Which I Turn a Large Chocolate Penis Into Brownies

Hey everyone! I made my FIRST Youtube video! Check it out!

...for whatever reason, it's not showing up. Soooo here, CLICK HERE TO SEE MY YOUTUBE VIDEO.

Expecting the trolls to come rolling on in because the video is somewhat annoying and definitely too long. But it's me turning a large chocolate penis into brownies, so maybe someone will find it amusing.

Let me know what you think! And if you like it, please feel free to share :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sometimes You Just Need Spaghetti -- Paleo Spaghetti Squash Bolognase

Spaghetti: the everyman's food. One of the few meals that can be cheap, easy, and equally delicious to its $30-a-plate-restaurant counterpart.

When you're trying to go gluten-free, it's a sorely missed staple.

Thankfully, spaghetti squash is a lovely substitute. While it won't ever take the place of its gluten-filled brethren, it's a suitable vehicle for sauce and twirls nicely around a fork. Plus, the squash is hearty and shelf stable, and even freezes decently if you can't handle a full squash--I know I can't, since my squash-hating fiance doesn't help me in the endeavor.

I may overdo it on the sauce, actually.

I actually made this during my Whole 30 experiment. I made my own sauce, in order to cut down on sugar that is used in pre-canned. My biggest hurdle was the cheese. Parm cheese always brings spaghetti-squash-spaghetti to that extra level, the one that makes me forget just a little bit that I'm eating a vegetable and not pasta.

I ended up tossing the squash with truffle oil and clarified butter, which helped recreate the cheesy-ish flavor I was craving. If I'd had any leftover nutritional yeast flakes, I think they really would have really done the trick.

For comparison, here's Cory's plate.

I was pretty jealous. I do have packages of gluten-free pasta on hand, and they're not bad, but I actually prefer spaghetti squash if we're doing a side by side comparison. Less of a weird, this-is-not-pasta aftertaste. Maybe that's just me.

Prepare your spaghetti squash however you see fit. If I'm feeling lazy, I de-seed it and cut into chunks and put in a casserole dish in the microwave with 1/4 cup of water for ten minutes. If I have time and want it fork-tender with a bit of a smoky flavor, I cut it in half, de-seed, prick all over with a fork, rub with olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees F until tender, about an hour. It's really up to you, each has their benefit!

Homemade (Paleo) Bolognese Sauce
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 roasted pepper (jarred), diced
  • 1 summer squash or zucchini, cubed very small
  • 1 chicken boullion cube, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbs Italian seasoning mix
  • 2 tbs maple syrup (if going non-paleo, 3 tbs of white sugar works best)
  • 2 tbs sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: one sardine, crushed
  • optional: splash of red wine

-In a large saucepan or dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and onion is translucent. Add mushrooms and summer squash and cook until soft.

-Add all the the tomatoes and roasted red pepper. I occasionally will add a handful of plum tomatoes as well. Stir and let liquids reduce slightly, ten minutes or so. Add the remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer.

-Keep heat as low as you can, and cook for as long as you can, stirring occasionally and scraping the bits from the bottom. 30 minutes is the very least, but two hours or more is best. If you have the time to transfer to a slow cooker, this is also an option.

-Once sauce is nearly done, in a separate skillet, brown your beef. When beef is done, drain the fat and add the beef to your sauce. Stir to combine, warm through, and serve over spaghetti squash.

*Toss spaghetti squash with butter and truffle oil to really ramp up the flavor.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Joys of Working Part Time -- Dutch Baby Breakfast

Even though I was hoping for my epic job hunt to result in a full time job, I am finding that the reduced hours are actually kind of nice. Not only can I do my blog/book/freelance work as soon as I get home in the evening, but I miss the heaviest bouts of the famous Austin traffic AND I get the whole morning to do with as I please. Not to mention the fact that I absolutely love the company I'm working for AND the work I'm doing, score.

Lately, I've been sleeping in too much to get to the on-site gym in our apartment building. Oops. Currently my excuse is that it is very possible that I am getting over a mild concussion I sustained on Friday after a blow to the head from my fridge that I was not prepared to deal with. And by that I mean I apparently got up wicked fast from putting away groceries and nailed my skull on the corner of the freezer handle and have been fighting headaches ever since. While I think I'm going to be fine (various friends and family members in the medical field have confirmed) I don't think I should risk it with any rapid-movement activities.

Sorry, gym.

However, having the extra time I DON'T sleep through has given me the chance to indulge in some breakfast, something I never really have had time for in the past. And, if Cory can't bring the pooch to work for the day, it gives me some extra bonding time with Lily, who I am absolutely utterly in love with already.

I feel like I must point out here that, while I am in such puppy-love right now I DO desperately miss my kitty back home. I cannot WAIT for the moms to visit at the end of March, bringing with them this furry little guy.

Anyway, back to breakfast.

It's nice to relax with a cup of coffee, a light plate of food, and greet the day. 

This was actually a recipe I tried during one of my first weeks in Austin, and I just forgot to actually blog about it. I'd been wanting to try my hand at making a Dutch Baby foreverrr and finally attempted, with my allergy-free ingredients.

Turns out, a Dutch Baby with GF flour and coconut milk is incredible. I'm not sure how it compares, but I very much enjoyed it. And while you won't get quite the same fluffy, custard-like texture on Day 2 of leftovers, it actually turns into kind of a sweet quiche. Definitely worth doing if you want it to last the week.

Dutch Baby with Gluten/Dairy Free Option
(Adapted a bit from What's Cooking America)

  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
  • 1 cup flour of choice (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Mix)
  • 1/4 cup sugar of choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons butter*
  • Powdered sugar or maple syrup for dusting, or fresh fruit, or really whatever

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In your baking dish (a medium skillet or, as I have here, a small glass baking dish) place the butter, and let melt in the oven while the oven warms up.

-In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy. You may use a blender for this if you wish. Slowly add the rest of the wet ingredients (minus the butter) and then slowly add your flour, whisking constantly to get rid of lumps.

-Remove dish from oven and pour batter evenly on top of the butter.

-Bake 25 minutes to a half hour, checking regularly to ensure the batter is puffing up. When it has puffed and the edges are golden brown, remove from the oven.

-Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup or be a huge sugar fiend like me and do both.

*Yup, butter is dairy, but I included it since it is not problematic for me... Not sure how ghee or a butter substitute would work, if you try it please let me know!