Sunday, June 29, 2014

Startup Life and Paleo Vanilla Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Working at a startup is unlike anything else. The environment is always fast-paced, and things are always changing. Last week was a huge week for TabbedOut, and I felt that baked goods were in order.

Being that this was my first time making food for my coworkers, I didn't want to mess it up. They know I'm a food blogger, so I felt things would be held to higher standards. I played it safe with Chocolate Stout Cupcakes (if you've never poured Guinness in your cupcake batter, you're missing out) and then remembered a few food allergies. An egg-free coworker got a batch of eggless brownies topped with Reese's Oreos and peanut butter drops.

Since my boss is on a mostly Paleo diet (as am I, kind of, in a really half-assed kind of way) I decided to make a batch of these. I wasn't going to make baked goods for everyone BUT my boss!

And he wasn't in that day. Oops.

Somehow, despite the little sign saying "gluten-free/paleo friendly," which typically deters most, these suckers didn't last the day either. I can see why--they're actually really good! It's a great, quick recipe to have on hand when you need a sweet treat that won't ruin your diet. I keep it in my arsenal for weeks such as this.

Oh yeah, I made the company a birthday cake, too! – it was from a box, to save time, but with special tricks like subbing the oil out for butter, and using milk instead of water, to make it less box-cakey.

Paleo Vanilla Coconut Cupcakes with Paleo Ganache Frosting
(Adapted from Elena's Pantry)

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tbs coconut flakes
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda (I used baking powder and lemon juice as a sub, since I was out!)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbs honey (I used an additional heaping tbs of maple syrup, too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Frosting

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate
  • 3 tbs butter or ghee

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together dry ingredients in a small bowl.

-Slowly stir in eggs, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla extract until a thick batter forms. Pour into cupcake wells, 3/4 full.

-While baking, prepare the frosting: melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in the microwave. Let cool to room temp to a thick consistency.

-Let cupcakes cool completely, then frost.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Poptails II: Watermelon Strawberry Poptail Coolers

In a total burst of coincidence, it's midnight and I have what I call Sunday Insomnia – which occurs when a weekend of staying up late and sleeping in makes it impossible fall asleep at a reasonable hour in order to be bright-eyed-and-busy-tailed for Monday morning– and I decide to edit the photos for this recipe you see here.

And, being a 20-something, I obviously need to be doing no fewer than 12 things at once when I'm on my computer. So in addition to editing photos, I'm stalking random people I went to high school with on Facebook, Instagramming too many pictures of my pets, frosting some cupcakes, catching up on Under the Dome, writing out the instructions for this recipe, and perusing Buzzfeed. And I come across this:

Poptails, totally right up my alley. Actually, EXACTLY what I'm preparing to blog about while I wait for this Tylenol PM to settle in. After all, it's getting hot here in Texas, and what better way to chill out than with a delicious popsicle that has a hint of booze? I pull it open and read it in between doing all the other things.

Then, I see THIS:

THAT IS MY RECIPE. MY RECIPE IS ON BUZZFEED.* And it actually links to my blog, not some recipe-share site. Woo hoo!

I've joked with fellow bloggers that I "Haven't Made It Until I've Been Mentioned on a Buzzfeed Article" so... does this mean I've "made it"? Eh, I guess I'm skeptical, but it's still pretty damn cool!

Watermelon Strawberry Poptail Coolers
(Note: these are small popsicle molds, use more or less if you have bigger or smaller molds, taste frequently!)

  • 1/2 bottle watermelon malt beverage (I used HEB Hibiscus Watermelon Tregos Frescos, but use whatever you can find that is similar!)
  • 4 large strawberries, pureed with a pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbs strawberry vodka
  • 1/4 cup lemonade
-Mix together ingredients, taste. Add more or less of each until desired taste is reached. (Be sure your ratio of booze and more watery liquids is in favor of the water type, or else they won't freeze completely)

-Pour carefully into pop molds, freeze overnight or until solid.

-Remove carefully by rolling molds in your hands and gently pinching until popsicle is easily removed.

*Fellow bloggers have asked if Buzzfeed asked permission to use my photos. The short answer, is no. However, they did the universally ok'd practice of "One Photo with Link to Recipe" which I much prefer to posting the entire recipe verbatim or using a ton of pictures. Had they not done this, I'd be a little angry that they didn't ask my permission. BUT I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they had the best of intentions (as I would with anyone who simply shares a picture and a link to my blog), and getting on a Buzzfeed list has been somewhat of a rite of passage for food blogs, so s'all good with me. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Secret Weapon/Ingredient -- Lemon Herb Chicken Thighs

If you're just starting out on your cooking journey, there is one thing that I would suggest above all others to help make the transition from "I can't cook boiled water" to "hey I can cook a few things that are actually edible":

Invest in some freaking Herbs de Provance.

This is one of three things I ALWAYS have in my pantry, and one of the few staples I suggest shelling out for instead of buying bargain-brand (truffle oil and balsamic vinegar are the others). Basically, it makes everything better. From risotto to breakfast potatoes to steak and this chicken dish right here. 

Protip: Homegoods, Marshalls, and TXMaxx all have gourmet food sections, and they ALWAYS have Herbs de Provance, Truffle Oil, and Balsamic Vinegar – and they're typically high quality brands and under $10 each. This is my secret source for my secret weapons, and I am telling you this because I trust you.

Anyways, this dish is bright and flavorful for summer, and can be paleo if you eliminate the wine. I paired it with roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts, but it'd be fantastic with a risotto as well. Enjoy!

Lemon Herb Chicken Thighs
(Adapted from Damn Delicious and Inspired Taste)
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on and rinsed*
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup hot water + 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 3 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbs dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs herbs de provance
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 pats butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix together 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp lemon zest, the herbs de provance, mustard,  and salt in a small bowl. Rub into the chicken and set aside for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, lightly covered.

In a large bowl, whisk together chicken stock, lemon juice and lemon zest; set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and the rest of the garlic. Add chicken and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Add chicken-bouillon liquid, wine, lemon juice, and the rest of the zest. Whisk lightly until combined.

Cook in oven until cooked through and crispy, about 30 minutes. If desired, drop a pat of butter on top of each chicken thigh before serving.

*chicken breast would also work, just adjust cooking time

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Austin Dishcrawl - Dishcrawling Near the Capitol

So, back in Massachusetts, I was pretty obsessed with this thing called Dishcrawl. Basically, aside from being the best thing ever, it's a pub crawl turned grub crawl: 3-4 restaurants, each a surprise. It's really cool! They're in most major cities, so visit the Dishcrawl website and see if there's one near you!

Whereas in MA, I was excited to see restaurants I already knew and loved, in Austin I was even MORE excited to try restaurants that were 100% new to me! This was Austin's second Dishcrawl, and it was in a part of town I'd never eaten in: the part around the Capitol building.

First up was Scholz Garten. Our fearless leader, Jess, gathered us all in the front of the restaurant. Seeing that I was alone and super awkward, she placed me at a table with others who had came on their own--another food blogger and a photographer then I later met another food blogger and another photographer--and I was super grateful to have some new friends to chat with while we were served the following:

That is a mini German smorgasbord right there. Chef Alex gave us nibbles of Jager Schnitzel, Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, Potato Salad a Pretzel Bite with spicy mustard. I scarfed it down (jager is my favorite schnitzel) and got a fruity cider to pair it with. We then got a full tour of the facility... which even has its own bowling alley. Very cool. 

Next, we walked. Mostly uphill. But the reward was worth it. Our next stop was Goodall's, which is the hotel restaurant for Hotel Ella. This place was so friggin classy I felt like I had to have my pinkie up for the duration of the meal.

Chef Cory (heh, great name!) made up some tasty bites for us, as you can see. Pork Meatballs with Queso Fresco, Fluke Ceviche with Grapefruit (YUM!!) Breadsticks with dipping sauces, and an assortment of Cheeses with fruit.

Everything was delicious. The entire time I was fantasizing about taking a weekend and coming here to "get away from it all" with my fiancé even though it's only 20 minutes from where we live. Awesome atmosphere, and the drinks looked amazing even though I skipped them this round.

Finally, we ended the night by trekking back downhill for our last stop of the night.

Passing by this Austin piece of graffiti

Indian Food! From Teji's, right near this graffiti. As you may have gleaned from my past posts, my fiancé is not a very adventurous eater. That's why I was SO excited to try some excellent Indian food! SO MUCH INDIAN FOOD. I was only able to take large bites of each, as my belly was super full by this point. We got to taste Chicken Tikka Masala (my favorite!), Palak Aloo, Rice, Naan and Rass Malaii for dessert.

In addition to the INCREDIBLE food, I got a beer for THREE. DOLLARS. Even with Austin's lower booze prices (compared to Massachusetts, at least!) I was shocked to see a $3 beer during a non-happy-hour. 

Overall, this was a really great first Dishcrawl for Austin! I am so excited for future crawls, and I cannot wait to see what comes next :) I'm sure Jess has something excellent planned.

For a list of Dishcrawl events in your area, please visit their website! For Austin-specific Dishcrawl news, follow their Facebook Page. Disclaimer: I received a reduced price ticket in exchange for blog coverage, but all opinions are my own. I repeat: I LOVE DISHCRAWL!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sailor Jerry's Backyard BBQ at Stubb's

 Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Sailor Jerry Backyard BBQ at Stubb's here in Austin. I wasn't able to stay as long as I would have liked – due to my own stupidity at forgetting cash to tip the various staff members serving us free items, AND the fact that our dog had been home alone all day – but the time I did spend there was awesome!

In my college days I was partial to another seafaring man rum peddlar, but in recent years Sailor Jerry has been my man. It's high quality rum, in my post-college-pre-adult price range, and it's 92 proof. All sorts of wins.

This was also my first time sampling Stubb's awesome BBQ, and even better, the pulled pork sandwiches were slathered with Sailor Jerry infused BBQ sauce! The spicy kick of Sailor Jerry's was so good I'm going to have a hard time having BBQ without it. Thankfully there's a recipe in the back of the handy-dandy BBQ booklet we got at the swag table ;)

The fiancé was pleased that I finally brought him to a foodie event that had decent portions of food. He's a BBQ fiend so I was happy to finally bring him to an event he enjoyed – yay!

The coolest thing about the party? FREE TATTOOS.

No joke, Sailor-Jerry-Style tattoos, legit on-your-body-forever-tattoos for free. Though we got there when the line was short and totally could have gotten them, since we both have tattoos and know that tipping your artist is of the utmost importance and BOTH of us forgot cash AND our debit cards... we had to decline. However, a search of #sailorjerry on instagram shows the awesome tattoos that better prepared people got, and they were pretty damn awesome.

Finally, the star of the show: Sailor Jerry's complimentary cocktails. I only tried two (again, only had what was hidden at the bottom of my purse for tip money and TIPPING IS IMPORTANT, GUYS!!) but they were incredible. Jerry & Ginger used our favorite rum with a bit of legit ginger beer. The spices blended together perfectly; this was Cory's favorite of the night. After downing a Jerry & Ginger, I decided to try the Spiced Colada.

This was, no joke, the best pina colada of my life. OF. MY. LIFE. And I've had some resort-by-the-beach-$13-situations in my day (just that one time, at that one resort, but it was my former favorite). They were sweet, but the sweet was cut perfectly by the spice. My brain wheels are turning, trying to figure out how to make my own once I get a decent blender!

We weren't able to stay long enough to hear much music, but the first band was pretty rockin'. Stubb's is an awesome venue and hopefully I get out to more shows there this summer.

If I wasn't already a fan of the awesome Sailor Jerry, this party would have sealed the deal. What a great party for fans, and an awesome way to welcome in what is surely going to be a Sailor Jerry summer!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Win Tickets to Austin's #AFBABigChill!

I love that the Austin Food Blogger Alliance is so focused on giving back to the community! It feels good to be part of a blogging community that not only supports each other I think I dropped the ball in signing on to help more with this event (next year, let's hope!) but I thought I'd let you all know about it just in case ;) Read below for more info!

Enter to win two tickets to The Big Chill!

It's the coolest event in the hot Texas summer: the Big Chill! Join the Austin Food Blogger Alliance for a night to remember.

Dress up and cool down with chilly bites from some of Austin's top restaurants in the beautiful Bullock Texas State History Museum. Chefs from top Austin restaurants—including The Carillon, No Va, St. Philip, Dolce Neve, Celtic Seafare, Nada Moo, Soup Peddler, Pleasant Storage Room, Swift's Attic, Thai Fresh, Trace at the W, and Noble Sandwich Co.—will be creating special menu items for the event, with drink stations sponsored by Good Pop and Chameleon Coffee.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Meals on Wheels and More, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Meals on Wheels and More has served the Austin area for 42 years, nourishing and enriching the lives of people in need through meal delivery and other programs that promote independent living.

Event information:
Thursday, June 26 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Bullock Texas State History Museum
800 N. Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78701
Total prize value: $130
Must be over 21 to attend the event.
Enter below to win now through June 15th, and don’t forget to follow along on Twitter and Instagram: #AFBABigChill

Buy Tickets Here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Broccoli Picnic Salad and Much Celebration

So. Before I get to the deliciousness that is this recipe, I just want to take a Proud Sister Moment to say two things, somewhat belated at this point, to my darling little (yet taller-than-me) brother.

CONGRATULATIONS ON GRADUATING COLLEGE! In addition to making me feel wicked old, my brother graduating makes me endlessly proud. He made it through two colleges and earned the heck out of his Bachelor's degree and overcame obstacles I don't know if I would have made through in one piece. He's my inspiration and I love him oodles. I was so happy I could go home for the weekend (although it was a short, short visit) to celebrate!

My brother, my mom, and me! Do you see a family resemblance?
(I think my mom and brother look alike, whereas I look more like my dad)

And two, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY. He is now 22 and I feel even older. Thanks, bro. Hopefully you can come down to Austin soon and I'll take you out to the fun places!

I also got to see some friends while I was home, which was much-needed. I miss my Partner-In-Crime, aka my bff Emma. Still trying to convince her to move, or at least visit, Texas. We'll see!

Anyways. This was my memorial day meal. Are you jealous? You should be. In addition to homemade crappy-looking pretzel rolls, I made burgers using Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Ultimate Burger seasoning, defrosted some curly fries, made a bomb potato dill salad (recipe forthcoming) and this fan-freaking-tastic broccoli salad.

Using an old family recipe as the base, I expanded upon it by adding a bit more ingredients and reducing the sugar by more than half. What results is an almost-paleo side dish that can double as a main dish if you're into broccoli (I am). I ended up taking leftovers for lunch all week. It was that good.

Sadly it was not enough to turn fiancé into a broccoli-lover. Oh well. We have the rest of our lives for me to teach him the ways of the "green foods."

Broccoli Picnic Salad

  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 2 tbs sugar (or sweetener of choice, as much or as little as you think you need)
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar

-Cook bacon in a skillet on medium-high until desired crispiness is reached. Drain, and set aside on paper towels to let grease wick off.

-In a separate bowl, mix together the mayo, sugar, and red wine vinegar. Taste, and add more or less vinegar and sugar to taste. You can also add a bit of salt and pepper.

-Toss the rest of the ingredients with the dressing, and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Serve cold.

*This will keep for a few days, but be sure to mix it up regularly, otherwise it'll get watery.